Ok, I know I’m chiming in on a thread that was created over a year ago but I did want to add a few of my thoughts to the discussion. I’m not very good at articulating my thoughts so most of this may appear to be random, disorganized ramblings. Probably because that’s what it is
I also tend to the verbose.
First off, I really enjoyed reading the tread. It really got me thinking about the war in heaven for the first time. I guess there’s no need for the disclaimer that my comments represent my thoughts and that my faith in the underlying source material to the war in heaven doctrine has somewhat eroded but there it is.
Going back to the OP, I don’t believe that there was a ”you must be at least this righteous” cutoff point to determine whether an individual had kept their first estate. I’m sure there were some spirits that could be considered “bad” that kept their first estate and I’m sure there were some spirits that could be considered “good” that didn’t. I see the division as being related to which plan a spirit wished to follow, a decision which I view as being independent from one's current level of righteousness.
Reading between the lines a bit, I think it may be time to reevaluate what I’ve always understood by the phrase “cast out.” Were the spirits that sided with Satan compelled to leave, or did they leave of their own volition? Think of it this way… if you were a member of a like-minded group and your ideals evolved away from the group ideals to the point of contention would you stick around until someone asked you to leave? Anyone relate?
It’s said to have been a war, so parting ways was likely mutual. Compelled to leave but with no argument from the other party perhaps.
Semantics I guess but leaving on your own volition preserves the agency above all narrative (which is also mentioned in D&C 29:36). This also meshes well with the notion that God does not depart from his children, they depart from him. In support of a literal forcing out… there are eternal laws that bound God (justice, etc.) and there are consequences for every decision. Even then it's still the case that a loving God didn't force his children into a state of misery, his hands were tied as they reaped the consequences of their own decisions. This is starting to feel like the answer to a question no one asked, so I'll leave it at that.
Riceandbeans’ post got me thinking… there really aren’t that many scriptures related to the topic at hand. I had to search a bit to find scriptures that related to the “third” that was cast out. The scriptural references are scant. I may not have found all the references.
With respect to the quantity, the scriptures consistently say third “part.” The traditional interpretation has been 33⅓ % of everyone, but there are several alternate interpretations. Perhaps it simply means that there were three “parts” with no mention as to the quantity of people making up each part. This new interpretation begs the question… what are the other two parts? Ok, I assume that one of the two parts is people that kept their first estate. And the remaining part, perhaps celestial beings? So three parts to the makeup of the preexistence: 1) Celestial beings. 2) The spirits that kept their first estate. 3) The spirits that did not keep their first estate. The quantity of people in each “part” being purely speculative. This is taking things way too literally though, even if it is in a different vein. I’m just spitballing ideas that came to me while studying the word “third.”
I’ve got a few other thoughts but I’m worried this is getting too wordy, so to be continued…