Nature of God

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
Roy
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Re: Nature of God

Post by Roy » 02 Nov 2017, 13:51

AmyJ wrote:
02 Nov 2017, 12:12
[Roy wrote: ↑02 Nov 2017, 09:49
I believe that God can add a divine spark and watch as revelation grows and evolves somewhat naturally. Perhaps God added sparks to JS. Perhaps he added sparks to MLK and others in the civil rights movement or Susan B. Anthony and others in the women's suffrage movement. In this vein perhaps God gives us a divine nudge and then steps back to see what we will do with it.]


I think God (or one of His representatives) adds divine sparks at specific time.I think that there is mindfulness involved, and that the events that are important to Him and His plan may not be the events that are important to us. I like to believe that He is mindful of the process, and intervenes out of love when it doesn't impact our spiritual growth.

Amy Doctrine 2.33 - I think that God (or one of His representatives) makes sure that the spirit enters an embryo properly and gives basic body operating instructions to ease the spirit into the body. I don't know when in the gestation process it happens, but I think it happens sometime between conception and the time the baby is born. I also don't think there is a set time - I think the spirit lets the representative know when he/she/it is ready to enter the body, and not that the body hits a milestone and the spirit automatically enters that body.

I also think that God (or one of His representatives) is there when a spirit is departing from a body.
Great thoughts! Just to be clear, when I referred to the divine spark or the divine nudge in the quote above I was talking about that portion of the divine in what we humans might take for revelation/inspiration. IOW, maybe God provides the catalyst for the revelation and then lets us use our free agency to put words and descriptions to it.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

AmyJ
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Re: Nature of God

Post by AmyJ » 03 Nov 2017, 05:30

Roy wrote:
02 Nov 2017, 13:51
Great thoughts! Just to be clear, when I referred to the divine spark or the divine nudge in the quote above I was talking about that portion of the divine in what we humans might take for revelation/inspiration.
Thank you.
I think that God uses both a spark and a nudge, personally.

I view the spark as those promptings that are outside our own thoughts that cause us to make a huge leap in our perception.

I view the nudge as whenever I hear something in the back of my mind nudging me/reminding me to be my better self and make better choices.
Roy wrote:
02 Nov 2017, 13:51
IOW, maybe God provides the catalyst for the revelation and then lets us use our free agency to put words and descriptions to it.
I also believe that part of the narrative of our relationship to God is going to be defined by how we learn things in the world. For example, I am a HUGE word person - I love words. Most of my spark/nudge moments include specific words, phrases and re-discovering/defining personal meaning through words. One of the problems I have with Lehi is that he was a pictures/vision person. I cannot relate to how received/describes himself as receiving revelation through visions because that isn't a natural mechanism for me personally.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Nature of God

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Nov 2017, 05:48

Roy wrote:
02 Nov 2017, 13:51
IOW, maybe God provides the catalyst for the revelation and then lets us use our free agency to put words and descriptions to it.
I've pretty much been there for some time. My beliefs lean deist, but if God does intervene at all I think it is subtle. And I think that's part of the "problem." It's very difficult to put a feeling or prompting into words because words just don't exist. Thus, our scriptures, including Doctrine & Covenants are attempts at putting something into words when the words just don't exist. Regarding Joseph Smith directly, for example may be God prompted him to come up with a temple ceremony and left Joseph to come up with it on his own. If you were given that task what would you do? As a teacher I borrow from others all the time. I think it's very viable that that's the way the ceremony came about. Much of our theology and doctrine has been similarly borrowed, IMO.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: Nature of God

Post by AmyJ » 03 Nov 2017, 07:58

DarkJedi wrote:
03 Nov 2017, 05:48
Regarding Joseph Smith directly, for example may be God prompted him to come up with a temple ceremony and left Joseph to come up with it on his own. If you were given that task what would you do? As a teacher I borrow from others all the time. I think it's very viable that that's the way the ceremony came about. Much of our theology and doctrine has been similarly borrowed, IMO.
I agree with this concept. I just wish sometimes that there was more honesty in that that is what happened. I don't know how I feel about Joseph Smith "borrowing" from the Free Masons and declaring it divine - I don't even know if it is divine, or ever was divine. But assuming it was divine - that this way of presenting truth was sanctioned by God, and assuming that man and woman are truly created equal in the sight of God, the way the temple ceremony is presented with the inequality causes me to put both issues on my shelf and become a chapel Mormon. While I can understand where the disconnect comes from - patriarchy and all that, and I have learned some truths while in the temple - I no longer believe it is the most inspired place on earth to be. Eventually either my understanding, or the traditions/culture will change.

The irony - I just got my temple recommend renewed a month ago. DH had started making noises about going back to the temple in April, and so I went through the local interview process. I had the chance in September to get the stake interview done individually after a Pathways meeting with my favorite member of the stake presidency, and had just finished reading most of the temple recommend links on this site so felt prepared. I was selfish (or very self-defensive - not sure which word is best) and thought about how if I got my interview done on my terms (my timing eliminating going to the stake center and dealing with the kids and my selecting of the member of the presidency) and appeared more "righteous" - signed off on a checkbox, I would get less raised eyebrows from DH when I am unorthodox. DH sometimes makes noises about going back to the temple, but I don't make it a priority right now.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Nature of God

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Nov 2017, 09:38

I agree Amy. Reading Rough Stone Rolling, I think JS was pretty convinced that his thoughts were God's thoughts and that's where all of the "thus saith the Lord" comes from with him. I agree that the myth about his revelation (and revelation to his successors) continues to be promulgated and that it is commonly misunderstood by the membership. They don't have weekly sit downs with the Savior in the Holy of Holies, they get revelation the same way we do and probably about the same frequency.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roy
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Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Nature of God

Post by Roy » 05 Nov 2017, 09:20

The following quotes come from the article "Great and Marvelous are the Revelations of God" by Gerrit Dirkmaat of the Church History Department in the 12/2012 Ensign.
"They understood that the process of revelation was not static and that the Lord sometimes commanded Joseph to revise, update, or correct the written revelations."
"He also applied the term (Urim and Thummim) to other stones he possessed, called "seer stones" because they aided him in receiving revelations as a seer. The Prophet received some early revelations through the use of these seer stones."
"The Prophet and Revelator inquires of God. He spiritually sees, hears, and feels, and then speaks as he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost." (reference to spiritual visions that might be later described using more physical visitation event terminology)
"While many members today may look at the revelations as being static and unchanging, the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the revelations as living and subject to change as the Lord revealed more of His will. Members of the Church relied upon Joseph to receive continued revelations for the Church. As former Church Historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy has explained: “Joseph seemed to regard the manuscript revelations as his best efforts to capture the voice of the Lord condescending to communicate in what Joseph called the ‘crooked, broken, scattered, and imperfect language’ of men”8 (see also D&C 1:24)."
I think it is important to agree that the revelations that have come down in print are not perfect. Where then are the imperfections introduced? Perhaps God only gives us the tiniest morsel that we are prepared to handle. Perhaps God sends down perfection and it becomes altered in the transmission through mortal instruments.

Seen another way, perhaps such "revelations" represent our best attempts to approach the spirit of God and divinity - being assisted from time to time with inspiration to prod us in the right direction.

Is God sending down bits and pieces of the divine will and plan? Or is Mankind reaching skyward, trying their very best to draw closer to God and do what they think he would want? All of these possibilities seem to have some elements of truth. Perhaps it is a mixture of both.

"The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture" is an interesting phrase in part because we have no scriptures that do not already contain to some degree the philosophies, prejudices, and biases of men. If this phrase means something divine that is mixed with mortal understandings - transmitted, expressed, translated, and interpreted by the imperfect minds and worldviews of imperfect men - then it appears to describe ALL of scripture.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Dkormond
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Re: Nature of God

Post by Dkormond » 05 Nov 2017, 10:49

AmyJ wrote:I have been trying to write this post in my head for about 2 weeks now.

One of the things I learned in studying the Old Testament through the Yale Great Courses class last year is that the Bible narrative is very fluid and very dynamic. Moses is not prophesying about the same things that Isaiah, or Ezekiel, or Malachi, or Samuel was prophesying.

In studying Isaiah (in the Book of Mormon), I started asking the question "what if the scriptures are all narratives put together to explain/define our relationship with God?" (I still don't have an answer for this one, but it sounds right when it jostles around in my brain.)

Related questions:
* What narratives do I have/use to define God?
For example, I know that part of my narrative is that God is like a Father to me. But my part of the narrative pulls from my experiences with my own father - who was big on letting us face the choices of our consequences and make a lot of choices on our own. When I was a pre-teen, I borrowed a lot of medical books/encyclopedias to read up on growing babies because I was thinking of becoming a doctor and I wanted to understand what each of my siblings was doing developmentally. I gather he got a lot of flack for that because these subjects were judged as being the "wrong books" or the "wrong subjects" for a pre-teen girl child in the 1980's.
Another example I can use is my mother. Her father deserted their family when she was 2. It has been a struggle for her not to feel deserted by God through various life circumstances.

* Are there scriptures/stories where God is defined outside a narrative?
For the longest time, I would have put the First Vision in this category. But then reading on this site got me thinking, and since we don't know if it was a literal visitation, and have evidence it may have been a vision instead, I have no further evidence either way.

Or do we have to have a narrative to define the nature of God for us on an individual and/or cultural and/or societal level?
This what I am personally leaning towards, but trying to sort out my narrative from everyone else's narrative is a lot like separating spaghetti noodles after they have been cooked. Very hard to do, very sticky, and have a tendency to break at random intervals.

Somehow I feel like I just put a whole semester's worth of work into 3 questions...
Wow! Your insight is both beautiful and compelling.

Historically speaking humans have adapted their definition of God to meet their needs. In the dark ages God was harsh and cruel, probably because life was very difficult and explaining the environment was also difficult. Therefore, God was feared.

Several years ago I went to the Joseph Smith Birthplace in Vermont. I spoke with the elderly Missionary who was there. In the winter the temperature frequently does not climb above 20 degrees in the middle of the day. Life would have been very hard and discouraging. People needed an explanation to give them hope.

It's similar to the movie made several years ago called "The Invention of Lying."

The more I study the Bible the more I believe we are truly saved by Grace. I do not believe as the church teaches in this regard. I feel that our explanation is merely a way to control.

My favorite description of God the father is found in Matthew Chap 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

This is my definition of God.


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AmyJ
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Re: Nature of God

Post by AmyJ » 06 Nov 2017, 08:29

Roy wrote:
05 Nov 2017, 09:20
I think it is important to agree that the revelations that have come down in print are not perfect. Where then are the imperfections introduced? Perhaps God only gives us the tiniest morsel that we are prepared to handle. Perhaps God sends down perfection and it becomes altered in the transmission through mortal instruments.
I think it is a combination of the 2 concepts. Part of my understanding of God is that He knows us as individuals, and either knows or has a pretty good idea what the combination of individuals will produce. I think that everything that comes down from God starts as perfect, but I think not only does the imperfection become altered when it arrives at the minds of people, but that mortal circumstances in general also alter it. I read a story regarding trying to teach aliens the taste of salt, and it can't be done very well because they have no reference. Maybe part of God's "work and glory" is to transmit information to us through our mortal, limited world.
Roy wrote:
05 Nov 2017, 09:20
Seen another way, perhaps such "revelations" represent our best attempts to approach the spirit of God and divinity - being assisted from time to time with inspiration to prod us in the right direction.

Is God sending down bits and pieces of the divine will and plan? Or is Mankind reaching skyward, trying their very best to draw closer to God and do what they think he would want? All of these possibilities seem to have some elements of truth. Perhaps it is a mixture of both.
In my world view, it is important that I believe it is both principles. However, what limited thought I have given it tells me the ratios are not equal among individuals, and that the ratios are not the same for the same individual throughout his/her lifespan.
Roy wrote:
05 Nov 2017, 09:20
"The philosophies of men, mingled with scripture" is an interesting phrase in part because we have no scriptures that do not already contain to some degree the philosophies, prejudices, and biases of men. If this phrase means something divine that is mixed with mortal understandings - transmitted, expressed, translated, and interpreted by the imperfect minds and worldviews of imperfect men - then it appears to describe ALL of scripture.
I agree.

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