Sin and Transgression

Gary brought up an interesting issue earlier today. The distinction many, particularly Joseph Fielding Smith, have made between a sin and a transgression. Allow me to quote Gary’s quote of Elder Oaks.

Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin…. This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!†(Doctrines of Salvation, 1:114–15).

This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression … echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73.)

For the record, I favor the sin/transgression distinction, although I tend to do it along different lines than Elder Oaks. To me the fundamental problem is that in the garden of Eden Adam and Eve were innocent and did not know good or evil. If sin is to knowingly choose evil, then it is hard for me to understand how it could be a sin in the normal sense of things. I typically appeal to Mosiah 3 and how when little children sin, Christ automatically atones for their sins.

Of course the obvious rejoinder is that Benjamin does call what children do a sin. But he does distinguish between sins we are responsible for and sins we are not. So I think the distinction is present, even if the language isn’t.

What Elder Oaks is discussing seems different. He is discussing a law that represents inherently the good versus a law that one might call expedient. Thus murder is both illegal and wrong whereas speeding is illegal but not necessarily wrong.

While I’m sympathetic to Elder Oaks (especially when speeding down I-15) I have two problems. First, Elder Oaks’ reading entails that what God tells us isn’t always right. That seems to lead to some troubling implications if we take it seriously. Secondly it raises the difficulty of telling, with respect to divine rules, what is just a formal rule versus what is an ethical rule. Certainly in the Eden accounts there is nothing to indicate what Elder Oaks asserts. Now it is true that we can think of commands of God we might term policy. But aren’t we under command to obey even if it is policy?

Consider the Word of Wisdom. It appears only to have been made a formal command since the 1930’s. Even if one takes it as a command since its revelation in the restoration, it also doesn’t appear to have applied to people in Palestine or Zarahemla. Yet, does that mean it isn’t really a sin if I go out and get drunk? I don’t think so. Something can not be inherently wrong, but can be wrong because of the relationship I am in. My relationship with God in my current context entails that drinking alcohol is wrong. Why wouldn’t this be true of Adam and the fruit in the Garden?

I’d be interested in your thoughts.

132 thoughts on “Sin and Transgression

  1. Just to add, I take JFS’ position to be that any law (i.e. written rule) is a generalization. What is right is always in excess of this. Thus it was right for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit because it was necessary. Even if it violated the written rule. So it is different from either of the things I discussed above.

    I should add that I’m in 100% agreement with JFS. I think the right is something real and that any attempt to represent it via rules will always be incomplete and somewhat incorrect. This is why I think Joseph made his famous statement about what God commands always being right even if it violates the rules we’re familiar with. I take the story of Adam and Eve being the paradigmatic case of this. I’d add that I think 2 Nephi also gives good reasons why partaking of the fruit was the right thing – one of the major conceptions that I think separates Mormon theology from the theology of most other Christians.

  2. This is fine and all, but I don’t understand why it would be bad to consider Adam’s (and Eve’s) decision a sin. Is it because we don’t want the world to think of them as sinners? I just don’t see a reason why such a clarification is needed.

  3. I think, Tim, that the issue is whether what they did was wrong. We tend to praise Eve in particular for doing the right thing. Further, as I indicated, I think there are interesting implications. Is it ever right to break a law? Clearly we, as a culture, tend to think so. Look at the very notion of civil disobedience. The brethren engaged in it arguably many times in the 19th century. We praise Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement for doing it in the 60’s.

    The implication is that law and the good are not the same. (A point I think Paul gets at with the spirit and letter of the law – although some disagree)

  4. An important bit I see about obedience to civil laws and things like civil disobedience. When you disobey a law under the auspices of civil disobedience you subject yourself to its punishments. Like Daniel and the Lion’s Den, the law was to not prey or be thrown in the lions den. Any law without enforcement is useless. While Adam and Eve transgressed something that the Lord forbade, eating the fruit of the tree, in the end they were not violating the will of God. The fall is the enforcement portion of the transgression of the law: Adam and Eve were cast out.

    What Satan did, in my opinion, was the sin. He got Adam and Even to eat the fruit at a time other that what the Lord would have preferred. Sin is doing something contrary to the will of the Lord while transgression is violating a law and suffering its consequences.

    So if you get willingly drunk knowing this there is sin and transgression. You transgressed the “don’t drink” rule and the enforcement is that you lose your temple privileges for a while and possibly face formal probation or disfellowship. The sin part? You willingly and knowingly disobeyed the prophet, and the will of the Lord is that we follow our leaders, especially the ones he picks out personally.

  5. Doh, prey vs. pray. That slipped through. Let’s hope we don’t see any “Pray and be Prey” policies in our day.

  6. Like you, Clark, I don’t find the distinction between things-that-are-wrong and things-that-are-forbidden a very convincing one. Doing what is forbidden is still wrong, so what’s the use of the distinction?

    I like the distinction between wrongs done *innocently* or *excusedly* and those done *guiltily* much better.

    Another way of looking at it is that ‘transgression’ is what you call choosing some ill consequences because its better than the alternative, where choosing the consequence absent the alternative would be sinful.

  7. One more thing to add in. An other way of looking at the conflict is between competing commands with different values. In this scheme commands can and do conflict and then we have to pick which is the more important one to follow. Thus it may well be inherently immoral to steal, but there may be other things we have to do that justify stealing in some particular instance for the greater good. I think we all intuitively recognize this.

    This is a common reading of 2 Nephi 2. There many read the situation as the conflict between reproducing and filling the earth and not eating the fruit. Eve picks bringing souls into the earth, thereby picking the greater good. However much like some views of civil rights civil disobedience, Eve does this knowing that the punishment associated with accepting the lower good must be accepted. What is interesting is that in a certain way, in this view, the punishment itself is part of the greater good.

  8. Apart from “transgression”‘s being a less harsh word than “sin”, what difference does it make what we call it?

  9. First, realize the scriptures don’t always make this distinction.

    Either way, I think it is useful. For me, it is the difference between something that is inherently wrong under nearly all circumstances (even when justified, it is still, on some level, inherently wrong). A transgression, on the other hand, may even be an inherent good, but under certain set circumstances (which are not arbitrary at all) it can become wrong.

    I don’t want to threadjack, but I’ve made a similar point when discussing homosexuality. Heterosexual sex, it seems to me, is an inherent good. However, it becomes a transgression when it goes outside certain set boundaries. Homosexual sex, on the other hand, as the prophets have taught, is inherently wrong, and thus really can never be considered other than a sin (subject to the usual caveats about individual situations, knowledge, letting the Lord make the final judgements, etc. etc.)

    Oak’s example of a transgression was “operating a vehicle without a license.” That’s hardly arbitrary – there are good reasons the government requires licenses to operate vehicles. Yet, at the same time, it would be hard to argue driving a car w/out a license was somehow inherently wrong.

  10. #9 Eve picks bringing souls into the earth, thereby picking the greater good.

    I don’t think she did this conciously, unlike the fairly recent, popular belief that she did.

  11. I think there is also an example in Nephi cutting off Labans head. This is of course an extreme example, but that kind of activity I usually would frown on. But because the spirit lead Nephi to do this it was right, even though it was against the commandments. Justified disobedience through the spirit. Similar to Adam and Eve in the garden? Justified disobedience through the spirit?

  12. Maybe you are right Tim, but in the eternal scheme of things I disagree. Of course I don’t know, but I believe that when all is said and done partaking of the forbidden fruit was what God wanted to happen, and that Satan was ‘foiled again’.

  13. Eric and Tim, this is exactly the problem I have understanding the situation. If Eve was led by Satan, that’s a sin, right? But if she was led by the Spirit, why do the scriptures say she was decieved? If someone can explain this, I would appreciate it.

  14. I agree God wanted it to happen–that’s quite obvious. But to say the Adam and Eve were guided by the Spirit to disobey God’s command when the scriptures (Genesis, the BOM, the BofMoses) all clearly state that they fell because the serpent beguiled (fooled, tricked) them, is simply false.

    I also find it the belief that Eve figured all of this out and took the fruit to continue God’s plan absolutely preposterous.

  15. Ariel,

    There is no evidence, scriptural or otherwise, that Adam and Eve were led by the Spirit to partake of the fruit. It was necessary for Satan to play a role, and yes, God was counting on it happening.

    The debate here, and elsewhere, is:

    Are Adam and Eve sinners for having partaken of the fruit (thus breaking a direct commandment of God)?

    or

    Did they simply transgress a less important rule or law?

    I see no problem whatsoever saying that their act was, in fact, a sin. No matter what you call a duck, after all is said and done…it’s still a duck.

  16. But what if it’s really a duck-billed platypus? Or a swan?

    Really, the main problem (I think) in Adam & Eve’s tale is that we just don’t have all the necessary information. I always feel like there’s some important missing detail.

  17. Clark,

    And Ramses II had tooth decay.

    Happy New Year and G-d bless. I’m surprised you sucked so many into the semantics of an anti-intellectual who couldn’t grasp the parable of the laborers, denied of evolution and the space program, spouted no death before the fall nonsense, etc. You are indeed a master of this forum.

    Many years ago I worked in Louisville, and a some JFSII wannabe told me, “you know Kentucky is a commonwealth, not a state”. I replied, “and the United States is a nation, not a country”. It was hard not to lose it when I realized the poor guy was clueless I was making fun of his semantic distinction.

  18. Steve EM (#21),

    According to David O. McKay’s First Presidency, President Joseph Fielding Smith was “an able and fearless defender of the Church,… a learned exponent of its doctrine [and] few, if any, … possessed a broader and deeper knowledge of the Church and its doctrine. He [was] a scholar with scarcely a peer.” (The Improvement Era, vol. 69, no. 7, July 1966, p. 613.) In addition, he was a man without guile, an honest man, a pure man, and a loyal member of the Church—and the Tenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    The gospel is full of “semantic distinctions” and it is not “anti-intellectual” to discuss them.

    1. Adam was like a little child.

    After Adam was placed on the earth and while he was in the Garden of Eden, he was “innocent before God” (D&C 93:38). This has been confirmed by Joseph Fielding Smith: “When Adam was placed on the earth he was like a little child, innocent, knowing neither good or evil” (Church History and Modern Revelation, Published by the Council of the Twelve Apostles, 1947, 87).

    LDS Temple attenders learn that Adam “descended to earth [and] fell into a deep sleep, from which he awoke with his mind erased like that of a little child” (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.1, Ch.7, p.179).

    2. Little children cannot sin.

    “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer…. Little children … cannot sin,… until they begin to become accountable before me” (D&C 29:1, 46-47). “And God talked with him, saying,… children are not accountable before me until they are eight years old.” (JST, Gen. 17:4, 11). “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold,… little children … are not capable of committing sin” (Moro. 8:8).

    One is said to be accountable when he understands the rightness and wrongness of his actions. This is particularly important to the baptismal covenant. One must understand why he is making the covenant and with whom. When one arrives at the point of understanding, he is said to have arrived at the “years of accountability†(D&C 18:42). From this time forward he is responsible for all his deeds.

    For this reason, “No one can be received into the church of Christ [by baptism] unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance†(D&C 20:71). This is precisely Mormon’s point in the Book of Mormon. It is “solemn mockery before God,†he says, to baptize little children because baptism is for those “who are accountable and capable of committing sin†(Moro. 8:9–10). The Lord has set eight years as the age that “children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins†(D&C 68:27). This is the age that children “begin to become accountable†before him (D&C 29:47). (Leland H. Gentry, Ensign, June 1981, 35.)

    3. Sin and transgression

    Elder Gerald N. Lund of the Seventy, has given us a valuable discussion about the difference between sin and transgression.

    The concept of sin rests upon the concept of law. If there were no law, there could be no sin (see 2 Ne. 2:13; Alma 42:17), because “sin is the transgression of the law†(1 Jn. 3:4). However, for purposes of understanding the Atonement better, it might be helpful to draw a distinction between two important variations in how the law may be violated. A person may violate the law in spite of his knowledge of it; that is, he breaks the law deliberately. But others may violate the law because they are unaware of its existence (ignorance) or because they do not have sufficient maturity to understand the implications of it (lack of accountability). For clarification, let us use two terms to delineate the important differences in these two concepts. Any violation of the law that is willful and knowing we shall call “sin.†But any violation that results either from ignorance or lack of accountability we shall call “transgression.†The scriptures do not distinguish between these two terms consistently, but such a distinction may help us understand some important points about the Atonement. For example, it helps us understand why children under the age of accountability cannot sin (see D&C 29:47). Any parent who has observed his children’s behavior knows that they often violate laws of the gospel. They hit brothers and sisters, demonstrate extreme selfishness at times, and can be unmercifully cruel to playmates. But while these are “transgressions†they are not “sins,†because as Mormon points out, children are “not capable of committing sin†(see Moro. 8:8). Much the same is true of those who have reached adulthood but have relatively little or no opportunity to learn the principles of righteousness. They also violate the laws of God, sometimes horribly so, as in the case of many primitive peoples, but they are of necessity judged differently because they do not “sin†in the sense of willing and deliberate rebellion against God. (See Rom. 2:12; D&C 82:3; also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, p. 218.) (Ensign, Apr. 1981, 17).

    Because he was like a little child in the Garden of Eden, Adam was incapable of committing sin. That is why the Prophet Joseph Smith referred to Adam’s disobedience as a “transgression,” not a sin (A of F 2). Lehi also states plainly that "they [Adam and Eve] knew no sin" (2 Ne. 2:23). Elder Bruce R. McConkie elaborates,

    It is proper and according to the scriptural pattern to speak of the transgression of Adam, but not the sin of Adam. (D. & C. 20:20; 29:40; Job 31:33; Rom. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:14; Alma 12:31; Second Article of Faith.) Lehi says, for instance, "If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen." Then he explains that while in their state of innocence in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve "knew no sin." (2 Ne. 2:22-23.) Knowledge of good and evil is an essential element in the commission of sin, and our first parents did not have this knowledge until after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, 804; italics in the original.)

    I wish you the best with your family situation, and hope you have a wonderful holiday.

    Gary

    .

  19. To transgress the law is to break it. The only difference that I can see between sin and transgression in moral culpability. The biggest flaws, from my point of view, in modern interpretations of the Garden narative is that thye don’t account for Adam and Eve’s lack of knowledge and they assert that God would give us a camandment that he wants us to break. The latter is especially incoherent.

  20. #16

    But if she was led by the Spirit, why do the scriptures say she was decieved?

    The Bible says she was decieved, and do we believe the Bible to be the infalible, always correct, word of God? No. It’s quite possible that Eve wasn’t decieved, and the Bible has it wrong there.

    #17

    But to say the Adam and Eve were guided by the Spirit to disobey God’s command when the scriptures (Genesis, the BOM, the BofMoses) all clearly state that they fell because the serpent beguiled (fooled, tricked) them, is simply false.

    From what I’ve read where the modern bible says “beguiled” hebrew translations use a stronger word that is mostly archaic. The word in the Hebrew versions doesn’t indicate being tricked or fooled, but rather being subject to an very intense emotional, spiritual, intellectual experience.

    And as far as preposterous goes, I find the idea that God would let Eve and then Adam make such an important and world changing decision without knowledge and full understanding preposterous. Satan may have thought he was lying, but that doesn’t mean Eve didn’t understand or know truth when she heard it.

  21. Andermom,

    This logic comes from Beverly Campbell’s book. “EVE and the Choice made in Eden.” She makes a lot of assumptions (i.e Eve’s state of mind) — and somehow was able to produce an entire book out of them.

    The Bible says she was decieved, and do we believe the Bible to be the infalible, always correct, word of God? No. It’s quite possible that Eve wasn’t decieved, and the Bible has it wrong there.

    You’re right. Which is why I adhere to the more recent and more correct Book of Moses.

    I find the idea that God would let Eve and then Adam make such an important and world changing decision without knowledge and full understanding preposterous.

    He didn’t let them, he let Satan tempt them and deceive them into making the decision for themselves.

  22. It is more than the book of Moses, it is our Temple. I do believe it was a commandment and that the Lord intended that they not break it.

    The modern attempts to turn Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit into a fruit of wisdom and virtue are ascriptural and contrary to the temple.

  23. I don’t think you’ll find any argument that following the Spirit (as Nephi did) trumps all law/commandments.

    I agree, but does this experience add anything to the discussion of sin vs. transgression?

    At this point, I realize the discussion has moved away from a direct discussion on sin vs. transgression, but Nephi’s experience was on my mind as I read Clark’s post.

  24. Getting back to Adam and Eve, I think what makes the account so interesting is that so much is left out that would enable us to make full sense of the situation. Of course in part that’s because the accounts we have – especially the Genesis account – is primarily attempting to be archetypal and not historic. Which, of course, doesn’t mean there aren’t historic elements in it. Just that the way the story is presented emphasizes Adam and Eve as a type for us. (Much like Isaiah uses history as a type for the last days and arguably as a type for the atonement and individual)

    To the issue of who led Eve: Satan or the Holy Ghost. Certainly Satan was involved. But I think arguably, especially in the LDS context, God was using Satan for his purposes. I think God does that a lot.

    As to whether Nephi’s experience adds much to the discussion. I actually think it does. You have the representation of the good which by being general always excludes situations. So to be good there will always be situations you’d have to disobey the general commands. The spirit deals with the particulars rather than the generals, and so obviously can always be trusted. It’d seem simple were there not all the difficulties in discerning the spirit. (And the fact God often leaves us to make a choice ourselves we are responsible for without letting us abrogate or responsibility to some clear rule)

  25. J. Stapley (#29) said,

    The modern attempts to turn Adam and Eve’s partaking of the fruit into a fruit of wisdom and virtue are ascriptural and contrary to the temple.

    Jonathan, you may need to explain your position on this just a little because at least two current members of the Quorum of the Twelve have stated that Adam and Eve showed WISDOM by partaking of the fruit. First, Elder Russell M. Nelson, in a classic sermon on the Atonement, said this,

    To bring the plan of happiness to fruition, God issued to Adam and Eve the first commandment ever given to mankind. It was a commandment to beget children. (See Gen. 1:28; Moses 2:28; Abr. 4:28.) A law was explained to them. Should they eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil†(Gen. 2:17), their bodies would change; mortality and eventual death would come upon them. (See Moses 3:17; Abr. 5:13.) But partaking of that fruit was prerequisite to their parenthood. (See Moses 5:11.)

    While I do not fully understand all the biochemistry involved, I do know that their physical bodies did change; blood began to circulate in their bodies. Adam and Eve thereby became mortal. Happily for us, they could also beget children and fulfill the purposes for which the world was created. Happily for them, “the Lord said unto Adam [and Eve—The Lord “called their name Adam†(Gen. 5:2; Moses 6:9; emphasis added)—]: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden†(Moses 6:53). We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great courage and WISDOM. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done. Adam was wise enough to do likewise. Accordingly, we could speak of the fall of Adam in terms of a mortal creation, because “Adam fell that men might be†(2 Ne. 2:25; see also Moses 6:48.) (Russell M. Nelson, “The Atonement,†Ensign, Nov. 1996, 33; italics in the original, bold caps added.)

    And second, referring again to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in the general conference talk quoted in the original post above,

    The Fall was planned, Lehi concludes, because “all things have been done in the WISDOM of him who knoweth all things†(2 Ne. 2:24).

    It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his WISDOM by doing the same. And thus Eve and “Adam fell that men might be†(2 Ne. 2:25).

    Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her WISDOM and courage in the great episode called the Fall (see Bruce R. McConkie, “Eve and the Fall,†Woman, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979, pp. 67–68). Joseph Smith taught that it was not a “sin,†because God had decreed it (see The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 63). Brigham Young declared, “We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least†(in Journal of Discourses, 13:145)….

    Modern revelation shows that our first parents understood the necessity of the Fall. Adam declared, “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God†(Moses 5:10).

    Note the different perspective and the special WISDOM of Eve, who focused on the purpose and effect of the great plan of happiness: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient†(Moses 5:11). In his vision of the redemption of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith saw “the great and mighty ones†assembled to meet the Son of God, and among them was “our glorious Mother Eve†(D&C 138:38–39.) (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,†Ensign, Nov. 1993, 72; bold caps added.)

    It should be self-evident among Latter-day Saints that God has given apostles and prophets “for the edifying of the body of Christ,” and that their ministry is to see that “we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:16.) Twice the Lord tells the elders of the Church to say “none other things” than that which the apostles and prophets teach (D&C 52:9, 36). The Lord’s house is a house of order and those who hold the keys, the apostles and prophets, are appointed to teach doctrine and interpret scripture.

  26. Gary,

    I just gave Jeffery some heat for saying what I’m about to say, They’re wrong. There’s NO WAY Adam nor Eve had any foreknowledge of His plan prior to partaking of the fruit. Like J. said, it simply doesn’t fly with what the scriptures (and the temple) tell us about their story.

    BTW, I don’t believe anything to be missing or left out concerning the Adam and Eve narrative in the scriptures. I understand the confusion that exists, but if read a little more carefully, you’ll find everything you need to know right there in those same verses you’ve read a hundred times. And trust me, when you discover these answers, you’ll slap your forehead so hard, it’ll leave you with a Steve Young-type concussion.

  27. Gary,

    Some of those quotes are Adam and Eve looking at their decision in hindsight.

    Can one not make an ignorant decision that turns out to be the correct (wise) one in the end?

    I think one reason for this recent, popular view of Eve’s courage/wisdom, is to simply contrast our view of the Fall with that of other churches who view Adam and Eve simply as sinners who are ultimately responsible for all the evil in this world. Considering that we view Adam as a Prophet and Eve as a “great and mighty one,” I think the brethern wanted to make the point that we should honor our first parents and realize that what they did was necessary. I just think they took the point too far.

    One more point. I think it’s difficult for some to understand the Fall because we have SO many different views/commentaries from GA’s (some contradicting) attempting to explain it, that the answers have become more muddled tha before. The only commentary we need, besides those found within Genesis and the Bof Moses themselves, would be Lehi’s in 2 Nephi 2. Trust me. The answers are all right there.

  28. Gary,

    Elder Talmage in A of Faith:

    Eve was fulfilling the foreseen purposes of God by the part she took in the great drama of the fall; yet she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan, who also, for that matter, furthered the purposes of the Creator by tempting Eve; yet his design was to thwart the Lord’s plan.

    This quote is also found in the Old Testament institute manual. I know your fond of qouting from official church curriculum.

  29. Tim Jacob (#34) and J. Stapley (#36),

    You can contact Elders Nelson and Oaks at the following address:

    OFFICE OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE
    47 E SOUTH TEMPLE RM 201B
    SALT LAKE CITY UT 84150-1200

    Let me know what you find out.

  30. Justin (#36), it seems to me that one can be wise without a knowledge of good or evil quite easily. But I’d suggest that it isn’t at all clear, despite what Tim says, what exactly Adam and Eve’s thinking capabilities were like before or after the fruit let alone the fall. I think the idea that Adam and Eve went from being totally unwise to totally wise rather a dubious assertion.

    Further I’d suggest (and this is a point Chauncey Riddle often brought up) knowing good from evil doesn’t imply wisdom after. After all nearly all humans know good from evil in some level, yet we’re not exactly a wise race.

    Regarding what knowledge Adam and Eve had of the plan of salvation. Once again I’d simply suggest we don’t know much about what Adam experienced or knew in the garden. Little children are also innocent, but I think if you visit Primary you’ll find a lot of little children younger than 8 who have a fairly robust understanding of the plan of salvation – often in certain ways better than some adults.

  31. Clark,

    I’m not saying it’s clear, just that it’s there. It took me hours (even after being given clues from my father) to find several answers.

    Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what others have said about certain scriptures, we forget what the scriptures say themselves. Like I said before, this just adds to the confusion.

    Quick question, if Adam and Eve didn’t sin but had merely transgressed the law, then why did Adam need to be baptized (repent)? Let’s see what God tells him:

    Moses 6:52-54

    Again, it’s ALL right there in the scriptures. ANY answer about this narrative can be answered using the scriptures, and I commend Gary for asking for proof as opposed to simply disregarding my statements.

  32. Tim -

    if the proof is so simple, it seems odd you refuse to enlighten all of us by posting the answer in the comments.

    Quick question, if Adam and Eve didn’t sin but had merely transgressed the law, then why did Adam need to be baptized (repent)?

    Adam needed to be baptized for the same reason Jesus did: Everyone has to be baptized. That question is a red herring.

    Again, it’s ALL right there in the scriptures. ANY answer about this narrative can be answered using the scriptures.

    That seems to me to be the simplest form of naive sola scriptura that really has no place in LDS theology. Joseph Smith himself expanded upon the scriptures many times, and even said some things in the scriptures are not fully explained, but we are not held accountable unless the Lord provides the interpretation. This seems to make it clear the scriptures do not explain everything in and of themselves. Otherwise we would never really need prophets.

    Also, your stance seems to me to be rather odd. You are setting yourself up as an enlightened individual and telling everyone who disagrees with you that we just are reading the scriptures right. Some of us have struggled mightily with these issues. I am not simply disregarding [your] statements – your statements are simply too vague and general to be regarded.

    but if you want to send me your “proof” over e-mail (or post it here) I promise to give it a fair hearing.

  33. Adam needed to be baptized for the same reason Jesus did: Everyone has to be baptized. That question is a red herring.

    Did you read the reference? That’s not what God told him, even after Adam asked why?

    You are setting yourself up as an enlightened individual and telling everyone who disagrees with you that we just are reading the scriptures right.

    Look, I’ve only used the scriptures to prove my points instead of using obscure quotes and references which often contradict each other. You don’t find it amazing that we’ve received modern revelation (the Bof Moses) about the Fall, and people are still saying things are missing or left out? It’s there. God gave it to us.

    Why did Jesus speak in parables instead of just giving everybody the answers. So only those who really wanted to know would discover the truth. I find it interesting that Gary (who is often and sadly ridiculed for being firmly set in his beliefs) was the only one that asked me for an explanation–the only one who wants to hear my explanation.

    That being said–I’d be happy to shoot you an e-mail, and anyone else who asks. If someone wants me to guest post my answers (it’d be a long e-mail), I’m open to that as well, though I don’t want to be misread as soliciting my services.

  34. I think Tim’s point is stronger than that Ivan. After all the verse says, “behold I have aforgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.” (53) I think the counter-argument is that we are baptized for all sin. So I take a different approach. Once again I’d point to the distinction between transgression and sin that I think is present in this JST expansion on Genesis. Note how there are two word choices. Is there a difference in this chapter between the words transgression and sin?

    If we adopt the spirit/letter distinction I mentioned, then transgression is breaking the law while sin is acting against the spirit. I think that sin is tied to the knowledge of good and evil in the JST here. I’d be interested in Gary’s thoughts on this.

    The issue, to me, is whether we need repent and be baptized for transgressions. My rejoinder to possible objections would be that little children are innocent, yet we baptize them and ask them to repent. So I don’t see a contradiction here, as I sense Tim is asserting.

  35. One more before bed.

    I still fail to see the importance of making this distinction (in Adam & Eve’s case). It doesn’t really change anything–they disobeyed God, which led to the Fall, which was necessary for all of mankind.

    As I stated before, I believe this simply comes from the fact that we want to differentiate ourselves from other Christians who believe Adam & Eve were grave sinners who are responsible for all the evil in the world. Instead, we want the members to honor them as our first parents.

  36. Tim, I agree its a subtle point. I think JFS had good reasons for discussing it. A common mainstream Christian attack on Mormonism is that we make sin a good thing which is a contradiction. The point of distinction between sin and transgression neutralizes this attack. So its value might primarily be seen as apologetic.

    However I’d also suggest that it tells us something about the nature of the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. Yes Paul clearly teaches this, so perhaps we don’t need Adam to bring it up. But I think how Mormonism teaches that the fall was good as opposed to most of the rest of Christianity is important. And all this touches upon this.

  37. Tim, I’d appreciate your explanation via email. It’s mertigress 12 at hotmail dot com.

  38. Clark (#42) said,

    Little children are also innocent, but I think if you visit Primary you’ll find a lot of little children younger than 8 who have a fairly robust understanding of the plan of salvation – often in certain ways better than some adults.

    President Joseph Fielding Smith tells us that God the Father taught that Primary class, so to speak, in the Garden of Eden.

    God the Father, who created Adam, … was in the Garden of Eden, and according to Mormon doctrine Adam was in his presence constantly, walked with him, talked with him, and the Father taught Adam his language. It was not until the fall, that the Father departed from Adam and no longer visited him in the Garden of Eden. (Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions: A Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums 1972-73, published by the First Presidency, Lesson 3, p. 21; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 1:103.)

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this doctrine, as did Presidents John Taylor, Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has also taught this doctrine.

    Joseph Smith clarified, Adam’s transgression “did not deprive him of the previous [Edenic] knowledge with which he was endowed relative to the existence and glory of his Creator. … Though he was cast out from the garden of Eden, his knowledge of the existence of God was not lost, neither did God cease to manifest his will unto him.†(Lectures on Faith, 2:19) President John Taylor asked: “How did Adam get his information of the things of God?†He then answered: “He got it through the gospel of Jesus Christ…. God came to him in the garden and talked with him … ; and he was the first man upon this earth that had the gospel and the holy priesthood; and if he had it not, he could not have known anything about God or his revelations.†(The Gospel Kingdom, 1987, 91; emphasis added.) (see Robert L. Millet, “The Man Adam,†Ensign, Jan. 1994, 10–11.)

    Adam … received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with [God], as one man talks and communes with another. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345; quoted by Harold B. Lee, in Stand Ye In Holy Places, 28 and Spencer W. Kimball in Faith Precedes the Miracle, 66-67.)

    Adam walked and talked in the Garden of Eden with God, his Heavenly Father. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1947, p.64)

    Adam walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden before the Fall (Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, Apr. 1974, 18.)

  39. Clark (#46),

    I think you are correct. Transgression is breaking the law while sin is acting against the spirit and sin is tied to the knowledge of good and evil. Using slightly different words, Elder Bruce R. McConkie basically said the same thing.

    In a general sense and in most instances the terms sin and transgression are synonymous, although the use of the term transgression lays emphasis on the violation of the law or rule involved whereas the term sin points up the wilful nature of the disobedience. There are situations, however, in which it is possible to transgress a law without committing a sin, as in the case of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (2 Ne. 2:22-23.)  (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, 804; italics in the original.)

  40. Tim Jacob (#18) and J. Stapley (#23 and #29),

    I would agree that knowingly breaking a commandment is sin. But go back and read carefully the first paragraph of Elder Russell M. Nelson’s comment quoted in #33. The first commandment given to mankind was the commandment to beget children. Notice the next sentence, “A law was explained to them” that if they ate, mortality would come. The explanation of how something works is not necessarily a commandment and it appears that Elder Nelson is hinting at such a distinction. Now lets look at the account in Moses:

    And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses 3:16-17; italics added.)

    A beautiful, and I think helpful, discussion of these two verses was given by Elder John A. Widtsoe, who quoted them and then said this,

    Though a command had been given, Adam was permitted to exercise his free agency. “Thou mayest choose for thyself.” The eternal power of choice was respected by the Lord himself. That throws a flood of light on the “Fall.” It really converts the command into a warning, as much as if to say, if you do this thing, you will bring upon yourself a certain punishment; but do it if you choose.

    Such was the problem before our first parents: to remain forever at selfish ease in the Garden of Eden, or to face unselfishly tribulation and death, in bringing to pass the purposes of the Lord for a host of waiting spirit children. They chose the latter.

    This they did with open eyes and minds as to consequences. The memory of their former estates may have been dimmed, but the gospel had been taught them during their sojourn in the Garden of Eden. They could not have been left in complete ignorance of the purpose of their creation. Brigham Young frankly said: “Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents.” (Discourses, p. 104) The Prophet Joseph taught that “Adam received commandments and instructions from God; this was the order from the beginning.” (Teachings, p. 168)

    The choice that they made raises Adam and Eve to pre-eminence among all who have come on earth. The Lord’s plan was given life by them. They are indeed, as far as this earth is concerned, our loving father and mother. The “Fall” and the consequent redeeming act of Jesus became the most glorious events in the history of mankind. (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 193-194; italics added.)

    If, as Elder Widtsoe suggests (see also #51 above), Eve and Adam partook of the fruit “with open eyes and minds as to consequences,” then perhaps Elders Nelson and Oaks (and others) are not so wrong after all when they state that Eve and Adam showed wisdom by partaking of the fruit. I’ll say what I’ve said before—it is presumptuous of us mortals to assume that an immortal, pre-fall world must, or even can, be comprehended by our finite minds. So why not allow the apostles and prophets to explain how it was and let it go at that?

  41. Then why did God “forgive” Adam for his transgression in the Garden of Eden? Surely God doesn’t forgive transgressions, but rather sins.

    The first commandment given to mankind was the commandment to beget children.

    And yet, this commandment was never given directly to Adam & Eve. At least not in the scriptures.

    There’s your first clue to figuring all of this out.

  42. Clark -

    re: baptism. Well, when John the Baptist was baptizing, and when Peter baptized, they always mentioned baptism was needed for repentance. Yet Jesus was baptized, and he needed no repentance. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

    As you point out, Adam was told he was baptized for his “transgression” – although generally we don’t baptize people every time they transgress or sin. There’s more (or perhaps less) to baptism that just cleansing us of our sins.

    Tim:

    I guess you’re arguing that Moses chapter 2,
    27 And I, God, created man in mine own aimage, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.

    28 And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them: Be afruitful, and bmultiply•, and replenish the earth

    Was not specifically directed at Adam and Eve, but humankind in general, since it occurs before Adam is created. However, we have many, many decades of commentary from prophets and apostles that indicate that commandment was given to Adam and Eve. If you want, I can cite several. So – are you arguing for sola scriptura – that we should ignore all commentary from prophets because it “isn’t in the scriptures?” Yet, D&C 68:4 says And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture,
    So I assert that in fact, Adam and Eve were given that commandment, since there are “scriptures” where that detail is asserted.

  43. Tim, it isn’t at all clear to me that God doesn’t forgive sins and not transgressions. Indeed I think the story of Adam and Eve as it relates to the atonement requires that both be forgiven. I think the point those arguing for two senses would make is that how God forgives them is different.

  44. If you want, I can cite several.

    Please do. I’ve looked for this reference and have not found one. I also think that if God did in fact give two conflicting commandments–he would cease to be God. It is simply illogical.

  45. BTW Ivan,

    If you want to use Nelson’s talk, “The Creation”, or Oaks’ talk, “Our Plan of Happiness,” I can EASILY contradict them using the scriptures.

    Speaking of which, try finding a Joseph Smith quote. He obviously knew what was going on–translating the PofGreat Price/Bof Genesis, etc. Find one from him.

    This is the problem with the ‘nacle. Often times discussions devolve into a game of quotation poker:

    “I’ll see your two apostle quotes, and raise you a quote by a President of the Church which is found in official Church manuals.”

    “I’ll see you that quote, and raise you a Brigham Young quote, a JFS quote, and something my Stake President heard the Prophet say while riding in the car with him on the way to the temple.”

    “I fold.”

    It’s a merry-go-round to nowhere. This is why I am using the scriptures as the only basis for my arguments.

    I don’t believe in sola scriptura. In this case we are fortunate to have the Book of Moses/Abraham to help us out. I find it very hard to believe that there are still things missing or left out after these revelations were given.

  46. Tim -

    I guess I don’t need to cite any, since you seem aware of at least some of the GA talks I’m talking about.

    Really? I just showed, using the “scriptures” that as long as Okas and Nelson were inspired by the Holy Ghost, there talks are scripture.

    I don’t agree with everything GAs say (playing the “My GA quote can beat up your GA quote” game gets rather annoying), but you have yet to give a good reason why (your definition of) “the scriptures” are somehow more important and totally supercede than the council of our prophets and apostles. Heck, Brigham Young said we don’t even really need “the scriptures” as long as we have a living prophet.

    The scriptures are wonderful – but to act as though they contain everything we need is to indicate the church leadership is redundant as far as gospel understanding goes.

    I guess I need to back up a little, because I think I’m not sure exactly what your views on scipture vs. Latter day authority are.

    Say I found a quote from Joseph Smith that said Adam and Eve were commanded to multiply and replinish the earth (I’m going to go look one later today) – you’d still probably assert the scriptures supercede JS.

    So, before we go further, I’d like to back up a bit and ask you your views on scipture vs. Latter day authority are.

    Mine go something like this: Scripture and the pronouncements of modern-day prohets and apostles are roughly equivalent, with the prominent spot going to official pronouncements from whoever is the current prophet. Contradictions between these sources (i.e. a letter from Paul in the NT and a talk by Dallin Oaks in GC, or a sermon by Alma in the BoM and GC talk by Elder Faust or between McConkie and Oaks) must be reconciled by the Spirit, not by claiming the scriptures are somehow inherently superior. The current prophet supercedes them all, however (even then the Spirit must be involved).

    That’s a bit simplified for a blog post, but it’s fairly accurate of my views (which of course change at least weekly).

  47. I don’t disagree with you Ivan. But look at what they about the creation. Adam and Eve were created on the six day and told them to multiply…

    You said yourself that they hadn’t been created on the Earth yet, as do the scriptures (Moses 3:5). So which is it? Did he create Adam & Eve on the sixth day (as Nelson and Oaks and others claim) or was it…gulp…actually the seventh day as Moses and Abraham attest?

    Here’s my problem with prophetic interpretation of the scriptures: Once one prophet says it so, then all the others must fall in line and teach the exact same principle the exact same way. This is an unfortunate result of correlation. I assert Nelson and Oaks believe their own words because they never questioned what was taught previously. Thus we have decades of something being taught incorrectly and something that absolutely contradicts the modern scriptural account.

    Revelation isn’t merely given, it is sought after.

  48. There’s no doubt that “Adam walked with the Lord,” and was given instruction. But I highly doubt one thing the Lord told him was, “Adam, you and Eve need to multiply and replenish this Earth.”

    I smile when I imagine what Adam’s response would’ve been, “How?”

    I then laugh at the thought of what the Lord would say. “Uhhhhhhhhhh….you’ll see.”

    I am now planning on writing a parody of the Fall to show the lack of logic involved in this line of thinking.

  49. Okay – well, I did find a couple of Joseph Smith quotes that might shed some light on the subject. Or not. I’m still trying to figure it all out, myself.

    From Kent P. Jackson’s Joseph Smith’s Commentary on the Bible:

    Pg. 5: “He (Adam) is the head; [he] was told to multiply.”

    Pg. 14: “Adam did not commit sin in eating the fruits.”

    On page 16 JS refers to the eating of the fruit as a “transgression.”

    Make of it what you will.

    While I don’t always agree with GAs, I would have a hard time referring to their viewpoints as “they never questioned what was taught previously“. Dallin Oaks, for example, is to careful and rigorous a thinker. I’m sure he constantly questions what was taught previously – and if he finds reason to believe it, I’m not about to decide I somehow have superior spiritual insight.

  50. One could argue that we have an infinite number of Gospel resources. We have commentary on just about every single verse in the Bible, BOM, PofGP, D&C, and commentaries about those commentaries, and so on.

    Why then, are we told to read the scriptures?

    Why were so many members surprised when the Prophet suggested the novel idea of putting down these other books for a while, and read the Book of Mormon?

    The scriptures contain the fulness of the gospel in its purest and simplest form. I could read every GC talk in the history of the church, but it would profit me more to read the scriptures as God intended.

    I don’t argue Adam was told to multiply, etc. Just not in the Garden of Eden. I’m sorry to nit-pick, but it’s a bit different.

    Also, as stated earlier you contradicted Oaks and Nelson yourself when you admitted Adam & Eve weren’t created when they said they were. So, apparently it is you who has a “superior spiritual insight.”

  51. Tim -
    ?????

    I didn’t contradict Oaks and Nelson. I may have worded it badly, but I was trying to paraphrase what I thought you were implying.

    I claim no great insight on this matter. I said (way above) I felt that, in the scriptures, some important detail(s) seem to be missing. That’s it, really. You came along, claim it’s all in the scriptures, and it’s very obvious (and that Oaks and Nelson are all wrong on this topic).

    As I said before, while I disagree with GAs sometimes, I would have a hard time saying I knew more about the scriptures and could understand them better than they do.

    I studied New Testament Greek, so I may know more about some aspects of the NT than them (though I think Nelson and Hinckley know Greek) – but as far as doctrine or spiritual insight – I don’t think so. I just don’t think I’m as spiritually attune as they are, nor do I have the spiritual mantle (calling) they have.

  52. Is it possible that Eve sinned in eating the fruit, but Adam didn’t, because he was acting to stay with Eve?

    Still waiting on your email, Tim.

  53. Ariel,

    Actually it’s more like the opposite. Sorry, about the tardy e-mail. Though I’ve had a day off, I’ve been working on my long honey-do list, of which blogging was not included.

  54. Elder Russell M. Nelson is quoted in #33 above as follows:

    To bring the plan of happiness to fruition, God issued to Adam and Eve the first commandment ever given to mankind. It was a commandment to beget children. (See Gen. 1:28; Moses 2:28; Abr. 4:28.)

    Tim Jacob, in #54, disputes that “the first commandment given to mankind was the commandment to beget children.” According to Tim, “this commandment was never given directly to Adam & Eve. At least not in the scriptures.”

    The simple fact is, every single time a Latter-day apostle or prophet talks about the commandment recorded in Gen. 1:28, Moses 2:28, or Abr. 4:28, it is interpreted as a commandment given directly to Adam and Eve. The scriptures mean what the apostles and prophets say they mean (see the last paragraph of #33 above), not what Tim Jacob says they mean.

    You can’t play General Authority poker with us, Tim, because you threw away all of your General Authority cards.

  55. Okay, so they were given to Adam and Eve. But this was BEFORE they crossed the veil and entered into the Garden of Eden. Read it chronologically. Moses 2:27,28 takes place in the spirit world, where MOST of the creation (organization–see the Bof Abraham) actually took place.

  56. Gary,

    Just for the record, I’m not really changing any doctrine–just clarifying it. I don’t think I’ll be harming anyone’s testimony here. Some people buy into the whole “they chose the greater of the two commandments” belief. When I say there were no conflicting commandments (and backing it up by CLEARLY read scriptures) because if there were–GOD WOULD NOT BE GOD!

    Take the first commandment out of the equation. This answers SO many questions/doubts/struggles that people have with the entire Creation/Fall narrative.

    Like I said before, correlation has caused that once one interpretation is given–that’s it. It is taught the same way, even if it is incorrect. I already contradicted your Oaks/Nelson quotes about Eve’s wisdom with Nibley’s (which is part of current church curriculum). Did they receive different revelations? NO. They have differnet interpretations. And I’m giving you mine backed by scripture–not hearsay or obscure random quotes.

  57. Just for the record, I sustain and support the Prophet and Apostles and give heed to their counsel and guidance. I cringe every time on these blogs someone has to talk about Joseph’s polyandry or Brigham’s racism, etc.,etc. I’m not challenging the Prophet, Apostles, etc. I just think some of their teachings are sometimes more a result of correlation than direct revelation.

  58. I also think that if God did in fact give two conflicting commandments–he would cease to be God. It is simply illogical

    How is it more logical that someone *has* to sin for the plan to get going?

  59. Send me the email, too, Tim: whitechocolate at byu dot edu.

    In light of the Widstoe quote above, I don’t think the commandments given by God were contradictory. Widstoe calls the forbidden fruit commandment a warning, and I had one teacher who said that it was more like a temporary restraining order. Kind of like we’re also under commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, but also under commandment not to have sex before marriage. These two commandments can’t be kept simultaneously.

  60. Silent Observer,

    You’ll have to wait until I get home from work this afternoon so I can get to my computer there. I’ll shoot you the same e-mail I sent to Ariel–it’s somewhat long so I don’t want to have to type it all out again.

    Did you get it, Ariel?

    In regards to your above statement, the scriptures CLEARLY state they transgressed (violated) the law. It was a commandment God gave to them, and then FORGAVE them for what they did in the Garden.

    Please read both God’s and Adam and Eve’s reactions in the Garden. They don’t add up as if they knew they were fulfilling a commandment of God. This is even AFTER their “eyes had been opened.”

  61. How is it more logical that someone *has* to sin for the plan to get going?

    God could not introduce sin into the world–he is perfect and he is “not the author of evil.” It had to be done by man himself by the breaking of a commandment through free will.

    He could not introduce Adam and Eve into an imperfect world. Think about it–why was it necessary to have a Garden of Eden? Why not place them anywhere? Think about this.

  62. Additionally,

    Had man not introduced sin into the world, there would have been no need for a savior.

    God could not introduce sin into the world himself, nor could he redeem man from it himself. This is why people say that to understand the Atonement you need to understand the Fall. And to undrestand the Fall, you need to understand the creation.

    I’m not saying I understand the Creation/Fall/Atonement entirely. I have not yet received that vision. But I do think you guys will find that there is a lot more found IN THE SCRIPTURES than you realize.

    I wish you guys would read 2 Nephi 2, D&C 29 and D&C 20, before any other comments. I will assume you’ve read the Moses and Abraham accounts. Now match what I’m saying here to what Lehi tells his son. Any problems?

  63. Tim –

    I have, and I’m pretty sure the rest of us have (and Oaks and Nelson have as well) read all those scriptures and pondered all those same questions and thought about them deeply.

    I see you follow the Milton idea of a felix culpa as the reason for the fall, or am I misreading you again?

    As for Nelson and Oaks and correlation: Correlation is a misused boogeyman. I would hesitate a long time before asserting Oaks and Nelson and other Apostles are blindly accepting what correlations tells them is true. As I said above, Oaks (at least) is too careful and rigorous a thinker to do that.

    I’m also getting a vibe that some of your theology seems influenced by W. Cleon Skousen, but I might be wrong.

    Anyway, I actually do look forward to your e-mail: rabidwolfe [at] yahoo [dot] com.

  64. As for Nelson and Oaks and correlation: Correlation is a misused boogeyman. I would hesitate a long time before asserting Oaks and Nelson and other Apostles are blindly accepting what correlations tells them is true. As I said above, Oaks (at least) is too careful and rigorous a thinker to do that.

    I’m also getting a vibe that some of your theology seems influenced by W. Cleon Skousen, but I might be wrong.

    Ivan, Oaks and Nelson’s above quotes are quite opposite of the Talmage quote that I made. How is this explained? Talmage’s quote is found in one of the most widely-read books in Mormondom (Articles of Faith) as well as an OFFICIAL Church manual (the OT Institute manual). How do you explain this? Who received what revelation? Who do we believe?

    I’ve read Skousen and do thoroughly enjoy his commentaries on the Fall. I believe he was the first to propose the idea that Adam and Eve had no blood while in the Garden (which has now been adopted by the Church as doctrine).

    But, no, I don’t see my line of thinking in line with Skousen’s. Again, I am using only the scriptures as they are CLEARLY written. Nelson says that God physically created man the 6th day. I cannot say enough how false this is. If you would like another scrptural source to prove this beyond doubt, see what Jesus tells Joseph Smith in D&C 77:12. It’s clear as day.

  65. Tim, I tend to agree that the appeal to GA quotes when the quotes themselves don’t purport to be revelation is problematic. That’s not to discount in the least the value of reading GA comments on theology and the scriptures. But those who read GA writings a lot quickly come to the conclusion that a lot they say is speculative and their own best attempts to understand. People want to be able to appeal to texts as the answer whereas I don’t think we ever have that. I was preparing my next RSR post (which I unfortunately didn’t get out last night) and Bushman makes this point regarding Joseph Smith and continuing revelation. We never know fully. A new revelation may really rework our understanding on everything.

  66. But those who read GA writings a lot quickly come to the conclusion that a lot they say is speculative and their own best attempts to understand.

    I agree with you. However, I don’t think one revelation trumps or over-rules or contradicts another, unless it explicitly says so (official declarations). Continuing revelation should add to or clarify the previous revelation. Nelson and Oak’s quotes do not add to nor clarify Talmage’s quote (which is still being taught in Church Curriculum), it opposes and contradicts it.

  67. Tim, I don’t think it quite works that way, if only because revelation is always given in the weakness of the prophet at hand. Bushman makes a big point about this with respect to the early apostasies in 1830. I think what some want is any revelation to be 100% correct with further revelation only being expansive. I just don’t think that is so.

  68. Tim, I would enjoy your email as well: grasshopper_lds at hotmail dot com

    Thanks.

  69. Here are my questions?
    What comes of teaching that Eve was wise and had foresight? And, what comes of teaching that Eve was decieved? I’ll point out that nearly everyone I know who believes that Eve was really decieved is very quick to point out that Adam wasn’t decieved (which Talmage states a little after the quote Tim provided).

    My point is that my testimony of my worth as a woman is tied to my understanding of Eve. I’m not the only one who has this problem. I don’t see why we have to go about correcting my (and other’s) views about Eve to be more realistic, and more inline with (fallible) scriptures, and fallible GA quotes. I can see nothing bad that comes of believing Eve’s action was wise, but I can see plenty of negetive things that have and still do happen because of belief that she was decieved.

    And since Tim’s email is so popular why doesn’t he submit it as a guest post?

  70. My point is that my testimony of my worth as a woman is tied to my understanding of Eve. I’m not the only one who has this problem. I don’t see why we have to go about correcting my (and other’s) views about Eve to be more realistic, and more inline with (fallible) scriptures, and fallible GA quotes. I can see nothing bad that comes of believing Eve’s action was wise, but I can see plenty of negetive things that have and still do happen because of belief that she was decieved.

    I don’t understand this line of thinking, but as my wife would say, “You’re not a woman.” Look, I think it would be better to praise Eve for her motherhood, for raising her children in righteousness, etc. I have no problem honoring Eve (I do), and I don’t believe that her sin/transgression does anything to diminish that. It all depends upon what YOU want to focus on. Do you focus solely on David’s grave sin that he committed (many do) or do you look upon him as one of the great leaders of ancient times?

    It seems as though your asking for Political Correctness. The only thing that comes out of PC is a slightly skewed version of the actual truth.

    I’ve never said Adam was not deceived, for he was as well–is it not called “The Fall of Adam?” If anything, he would be under greater condemnation because he heard God tell him directly not to eat the fruit, while we have no evidence that it was God and not Adam telling this to Eve. Either way, they both transgressed the commandment.

    And since Tim’s email is so popular why doesn’t he submit it as a guest post?

    Nobody has asked me to.

  71. Look, I think it would be better to praise Eve for her motherhood, for raising her children in righteousness, etc.

    I agree, when do we start?

  72. I’ve read Skousen and do thoroughly enjoy his commentaries on the Fall. I believe he was the first to propose the idea that Adam and Eve had no blood while in the Garden (which has now been adopted by the Church as doctrine).

    I didn’t get the memo. When was it adopted as doctrine and where can I read it?

  73. I thought Talmage mentioned it well before Skousen did.

    I also really, really, really don’t like W. Cleon Skousen’s work at all.

    Now, Royal Skousen’s BoM project – I love that. But he’s a different Skousen.

  74. Orson Pratt preceded both of them:

    Death had no dominion over his tabernacle: the principle of blood which flows in the mortal tabernacles of men did not exist in his [Adam’s] immortal body; but his veins and arteries contained a fluid of a far purer nature than that of blood: in other words, they were filled with the spirit of life, which was calculated to preserve them in immortality.

    JoD vol 7, p. 254

  75. Tim,
    I’d apreciate the food for thought by email too, if you decide not to post it.
    penguin 0101 at go dot com

  76. Andermom, I don’t think Eve is brought down at all by the fact that she was decieved. Mother Theresa sinned too; we still honor her. You say that bad things have been justified by Eve’s sin. I agree, but the problem is the fact that these things were done, and justified wrongly. Think of it like the crusades- evil was done, and justified by “Christianity.” The problem is not with the thing used to justify the act (Christianity), it’s the act itself (brutality). Similarly, the problem here is not the model of Eve as a sinner, the problem is the act of degrading women. It’s okay to accept the model of Eve as a sinner. Accepting that fact does not degrade women at all.

    Tim, let me see whether I get what you’re saying. I’m not sure I agree 100%, but I want to make sure we’re on the same page before we go there.

    Eve was decieved and did something she wasn’t supposed to, although she probably heard the commandment from Adam and not directly from God. This is sin, or transgression, whatever.

    Adam, without being “decieved,” was disobedient to a commandment he heard from God, because Eve told him to do it. This is a bigger sin, or transgression, whatever.

    God had Eden set up so that there was an opportunity to sin, and when they took that opportunity, the fall was introduced.

  77. Tim said (#69),

    I … contradicted your Oaks/Nelson quotes about Eve’s wisdom with [Talmage’s] (which is part of current church curriculum).

    Tim said (#77),

    Oaks and Nelson’s above quotes are quite opposite of the Talmage quote that I made.

    According to Elder Talmage (as quoted in #37), Eve knew that partaking was contrary to divine command, but she didn’t know the mind of God (who does?) and she was deceived by Satan (who isn’t?). I am unable to see how this contradicts Elder Nelson or Elder Oaks (as quoted in #33).

  78. Whether or not Eve actually heard God give the commandment to not partake the fruit, we don’t know. It’s simply not found in the scriptures. I assume (one of the few assumptions I make that’s not scripturally based) that she heard it from Adam and not God himself. This may explain why (uh, oh…big assumption here) it was easier for Satan to deceive Eve and not Adam. Adam heard the commandment from God–it’s indisputable fact. Eve, I’m not so sure, but I think you’d agree it would be a lot harder to disobey God, if you heard it come directly from his mouth

    But like you said, “whatever.” It doesn’t really matter. They both transgressed the law, and we know from D&C 29:34 that God gives no laws which are temporal (giving you food for thought during the next WoW lesson) so his commandment was that of a spiritual nature (he expresses this explicitly in regards to Adam), and to transgress a spiritual law is a sin in my book.

  79. Tim Jacob said,

    Here’s my problem with prophetic interpretation of the scriptures: Once one prophet says it so, then all the others must fall in line and teach the exact same principle the exact same way. This is an unfortunate result of correlation. I assert Nelson and Oaks believe their own words because they never questioned what was taught previously. Thus we have decades of something being taught incorrectly and something that absolutely contradicts the modern scriptural account. (#60, italics added.)

    Like I said before, correlation has caused that once one interpretation is given–that’s it. It is taught the same way, even if it is incorrect. (#69; italics added.)

    Just for the record, I sustain and support the Prophet and Apostles and give heed to their counsel and guidance…. I just think some of their teachings are sometimes more a result of correlation than direct revelation. (#70, italics added.)

    The Church Curriculum Department

    Tim, it’s obvious to me that you have some misconceptions about what you call “correlation.” The fact is, curriculum writers are called by and work under the supervision of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve—those who are ultimately responsible for the doctrine. For many years now, curriculum materials have been prepared according to a basic procedure that was described by Elder M. Russell Ballard in the April 1983 general conference.

    “For the past several years, I have served as Executive Director of the Church Curriculum Department. When I became fully aware of the immense effort required to prepare a single course of study, I was overwhelmed. I now have much greater appreciation for the approved teaching materials of the Church.

    “Let me give you an example. The present Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Supplement, which was prepared to help teachers teach the New Testament, was written by a committee of faithful and knowledgeable Church-service writers, who were called and set apart for that service by one of the General Authorities. Their work commenced in the spring of 1980, following General Authority approval of the outline. Writing committee members spent thousands of hours researching, writing, and attending biweekly committee meetings, where the entire committee critiqued each lesson carefully and suggested improvements. The work of the writing committee then was reviewed by General Authority Managing Directors of the Priesthood and Curriculum departments, the General Presidency and the General Board of the Sunday School, Church Editing, and Church Correlation Review. This manual received careful scrutiny at many levels before it was approved for use in Sunday School this year. All teaching materials for the Church follow this same basic procedure in their preparation.

    “Teachers would be well advised to study carefully the scriptures and their manuals before reaching out for supplemental materials. Far too many teachers seem to stray from the approved curriculum materials without fully reviewing them. If teachers feel a need to use some good supplemental resources beyond the scriptures and manuals in presenting a lesson, they should first consider the use of the Church magazines.

    “Teachers can stay on safe ground when they use the standard works, the approved manuals, and the writings of the General Authorities.†(Ensign, May 1983, 68; emphasis added.)

    Approved Church publications

    Curriculum writers are cleared by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve before they are called. Correlation Review Committee members are selected by the Brethren because they are known to have knowledge of Church doctrine and Church history. Elder Dean L. Larsen, a former member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Managing Director of Curriculum Resources has explained this process:

    “Church publications fall into four general categories: (1) materials related to the curriculum, such as lesson manuals, teachers’ supplements, and student materials; (2) magazines; (3) administrative documents, such as handbooks, leadership training materials, organizational guidelines and bulletins, etc.; and (4) missionary discussions, tracts, and support materials. All of the materials within these four categories are prepared under the direction of some officially recognized Church agency, and they are reviewed and cleared by the Church Correlation Review committees before they are published and issued to the Church….

    “While the content of the approved Church publications identified above does not claim the same endorsement that the standard works receive, nonetheless they are prepared with great care and are carefully screened before they are published. Writers of curriculum materials must be cleared by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve. Their product is reviewed closely by the heads of the organizations that are responsible for their implementation. Correlation Review committees check carefully for doctrinal accuracy and for harmony with established Church policies and procedures….

    “Correlation Review … Committee members are called as a result of their expertise in such areas as Church doctrine, Church history, and Church administration, and serve three different age groups: adult, youth, and children.

    “Much care is exercised to make certain that the official publications of the Church carry messages that are sound in doctrine and fully in harmony with currently approved policies and procedures.†(Ensign, Aug. 1977, 38; italics in the original.)

    Some responsibilities delegated

    A hundred years ago, priesthood manuals were often written by the general authorities themselves. Elder B. H. Roberts wrote several in those days, as did Elder Joseph Fielding Smith a few years later. I’ve never seen a complete list of priesthood manuals, but for the first five years after I returned from my mission, the priesthood manuals were all compilations of previously published material written by members of the First Presidency.

    The 1968-69 and 1969-70 priesthood manuals were taken from the writings of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. The following two years, 1970-71 and 1971-72, Gospel Doctrine by President Joseph F. Smith was used, it having been originally published as a priesthood manual in 1919. Then in 1972-73, the priesthood manual was Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions by President Joseph Fielding Smith. The current series, Teachings of Presidents of the Church series follows that pattern.

    Two things are apparent to me. First, during the past 100 years, the Church has grown from fewer than 300,000 members to more than 12.5 million members and geographic expansion has paralleled that growth.

    Second, the number of those who hold the keys—the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve—has not grown. That obviously leaves a lot less time available for them to do things like write Church manuals. Therefore, it seems entirely appropriate that some responsibilities be delegated. If they choose to delegate the preparation of curriculum materials to committees chosen by themselves, I sustain them in that. I trust that their system works, as I said above, to their satisfaction. They hold the keys. They are the ones who must be satisfied and I doubt any of them is ever surprised by what is found in the published result.

    I’ve given you the published “testimony†of (a) an Apostle who served for several years as Executive Director of the Church Curriculum Department and (b) a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy who served as Managing Director of Curriculum Resources. They both insist that the process exists and that it works.

    You might want to rethink your position on the Church’s curriculum review process before making any more comments about a nameless, faceless thing called “correlation” dictating the teachings of the apostles and prophets.

  80. All right Gary, let’s do this.

    Elder Nelson:
    “We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great courage and WISDOM.”

    Elder Oaks:
    “we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her WISDOM and courage in the great episode called the Fall”

    And now…

    Elder Talmage:
    “she did not partake of the forbidden fruit with that object in view, but with intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan,”

    Elder Oaks and Nelson are arguing that Eve was wise which would absolutely require foreknowledge. Elder Talmage says this isn’t so. I don’t see how these two quotes are reconciled.

    Even better than continuing our Prophetic poker match, why don’t we let Eve herself tell us why she partook of the fruit:

    Moses 4:12..

    She saw that the tree was GOOD FOR FOOD and it became PLEASANT TO THE EYES and a tree to be desired to (here’s the kicker) MAKE HER WISE.

    She saw that the fruit would make her wise. Not the other way around, not she was wise THUS she did partake of the fruit.

    I’ll trust Eve’s words over what somebody thinks Eve was thinking at the time thousands of years after the fact.

  81. One more point Gary,

    I believe Elder Nelson and Oaks were talking about Eve’s wisdom in hindsight. And I agree it was a form of wisdom–though ignorant and mislead it was.

  82. Tim Jacob (#68) said,

    Moses 2:27,28 takes place in the spirit world, where most of the creation … actually took place.

    Adam and Eve were married in the Garden of Eden, not in the spirit world. The commandment to “multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28) was spoken as part of the marriage covenant just as it is today (HC 2:320).

    It is true that the Lord created all things spiritually before he created them physically (Moses 3:5). But it is not true, as you claim, that a revealed, scriptural account of the spiritual creation exists. It has been clearly stated that the creation narratives recorded in Gen. 1–2, Moses 1–3, JST Gen. 1–2, Abr. 3–5, and the Temple account, all refer to the physical (albeit paradisiacal) creation of earth, plants, animals, and man.

    In one of the few Ensign articles ever published about the “Four Accounts of the Creation,†Keith H. Meservy (an associate professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and a member of the Gospel Doctrine writing committee) concludes that “the Bible offers no account of the sequential process by which all things were spiritually created.” He then quotes President Joseph Fielding Smith, who said,

    “The account of the creation of the earth as given in Genesis, and the Book of Moses, and as given in the temple, is the Creation of the physical earth, and of physical animals and plants. … There is no account of the Creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits.†(Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 1:75.) (Ensign, Jan. 1986, 52–53.)

    Another valuable discussion about whether or not we have a scriptural account of the spirit creation was given by Elder Bruce R. McConkie,

    Then the Eternal Father created man in his own image and likeness, both male and female. They were given dominion over all other created things and were commanded to multiply and fill the earth with those of their own race. (Genesis 1; Moses 2; Abraham 4.)

    At this point the holy word says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (Moses 3:1.) The creation was accomplished; it was done. This earth, and man, and life in all its forms and varieties existed in physical form. But none of these had the same nature they now possess. The great Creator had created a paradisiacal earth, an edenic earth, an earth of the kind and nature that will exist during the Millennium, when it will be renewed and receive again its paradisiacal glory. There was as yet neither procreation nor death. These would enter the scheme of things only after the fall. The earth, man, and all created things were in a deathless state of immortality, but they were so organized that they could become mortal through the fall.

    And so the Lord, in the Mosaic account, makes the needed interpolative explanations to enable us to understand the nature of the original creation, the paradisiacal creation, the creation that antedated the fall. There is no revealed account of the spirit creation, simply an explanation that all things were created in heaven before they were created naturally on earth. And although all things had been created physically, “there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water neither in the air.” That is, there was no flesh as we know it, no mortal flesh, no mortality. All forms of fish and fowl and animal life existed physically before man was placed on earth, and yet Adam is described as “the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also.” (Moses 3:2-7.) Through his fall, Adam became mortal. He took upon himself mortal flesh and became the first mortal flesh on earth, and the effects of his fall then passed upon the earth and all created things.

    After the creation came the fall; after all things had been created, all things fell. The fall was as universal as the creation. It included man, the earth, and all forms of life. Through the fall, all things passed downward to a lower status; they lost the station and dignity that once was theirs and were changed from the primeval and paradisiacal state to their present mortal state. This change from a deathless to a mortal state brought with it all things that appertain to mortality, including procreation, disease, suffering, and death. None of these existed on this earth prior to the fall. (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 84-85.)

    The creation accounts in scripture describe the paradisiacal, physical creation. It was spiritual because it was terrestrial—all things were quickened by the spirit. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t physical.

    The fall of Adam constitutes the mortal creation. Adam and Eve became mortal when their physical bodies changed and “blood began to circulate in their bodies” (see Elder Nelson in #33).

  83. Yes Tim (#101), I’ve read the scriptures and surely Elders Nelson and Oaks have also. Frankly, it is getting tiresome for you to repeatedly assume that we and the apostles are scripturally ignorant.

    Nor have you explained how Talmage contradicts Nelson and Oaks. Placing snippets from each in the same proximity just doesn’t seem to explain it. Why don’t you try telling us in your own words what you think each is saying. I am a firm believer that the apostles and prophets disagree a lot less and a lot less often than many of us would like to think they do.

    For example, many people believe B. H. Roberts and Joseph Fielding Smith had a big disagreement about evolution in 1930-1931. The truth is, they agreed on evolution—neither one believed it. But they did have a private discussion (since partially made public) about the double creation theory of Elder Roberts who was himself attempting an unauthorized explanation of Gen. 1 versus Gen. 2. His theory was rejected by Heber J. Grant’s First Presidency and his book remained unpublished until nearly sixty years after his death in 1933.

  84. Tim, (#101),

    The Lord himself planted “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food” (Gen 2:9; see also Moses 3:9 and Abr. 5:9). In other words, what the Lord planted was, in fact, pleasant to the eyes and good for food. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, apparently, was no exception. But, as we’ve already discussed, special consequences were associated with partaking of the fruit of that particular tree. And again, you are not allowing modern apostles and prophets to interpret scripture. Why? Do you doubt their spiritual insight? Do you think they are less intelligent than you are?

    The wise among us seek wisdom.

    Just because Eve desired wisdom doesn’t mean she had none—she and we “lack wisdom,” but those of us not completely devoid of wisdom will follow the counsel of Elder John E. Fowler, of the Seventy, given when he spoke in general conference about “Becoming Wise unto Salvation†(Ensign, Nov. 1992, 78).

  85. Clearly a knowledge of good and evil would increase our wisdom if we define wisdom as what to do. But if I am wiser now than I was at 14, it doesn’t mean I had no wisdom there.

    It seems to me Tim that you read the scriptures in rather absolutist terms when I don’t think that is entailed.

  86. It is true that the Lord created all things spiritually before he created them physically (Moses 3:5). But it is not true, as you claim, that a revealed, scriptural account of the spiritual creation exists. It has been clearly stated that the creation narratives recorded in Gen. 1–2, Moses 1–3, JST Gen. 1–2, Abr. 3–5, and the Temple account, all refer to the physical (albeit paradisiacal) creation of earth, plants, animals, and man.

    Moses 3:5

    And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground•; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

    Uhhh, Gary, this scripture is clearly during the seventh day. Want more scriptural proof. Okay:

    D&C 77:12

    We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth

    It couldn’t be more clear.

    The contradiction between Oaks/Nelson and Talmage–ONE MORE TIME. Oaks and Nelson claim that Eve was wise which would entail having some kind of foreknowledge of God’s plan BEFORE partaking the fruit. Talmage states clearly that she had no foreknowledge and that she wasn’t wise. She was simply partaking of the fruit with “intent to act contrary to the divine command, being deceived by the sophistries of Satan,”

    The only thing she knew about the fruit was what God told her (don’t eat it, don’t even touch it) and what Satan todl her (it’s delicious, it will make you wise). She rejected God and took Satan’s side.

  87. Clark,

    I am simply talking about wisdom in regards to the partaking of the fruit. If she was wise enogh to know she had to partake of the fruit herself, there was no need to have Satan tempt her into doing it. Why do you think God gave Satan such a “grand” introduction in Moses 4? Again, the ONLY reason Eve partook of the fruit was because she was deceived (according to Talmage) by the Devil.

  88. Tim (#107),

    (1.) Moses 3:5 is an interpolative summary, giving the larger context for the physical creation (see #103), and D&C 77:12 fits that paradigm better than it fits yours.

    (2.) Talmage does not say Eve had zero knowledge of God’s mind and will, he merely contrasts Eve’s knowledge of God’s warning about the fruit with her lack of complete knowledge about God’s mind and will.

    (3.) How can you possibly know what “the only thing she knew” was? Your claim is contradicted by the fact that the Father walked and talked with them in the Garden and taught them His gospel (see #51). Your claim is also contradicted by Elders Nelson and Oaks (see #33).

    I’m sorry, Tim. It seems we’re now going in circles. Maybe it’s time to shake hands and just accept the fact that we see things differently.

  89. How can you possibly know what “the only thing she knew” was? Your claim is contradicted by the fact that the Father walked and talked with them in the Garden and taught them His gospel (see #51).

    BUT WHY WOULD SAY ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE FRUIT OTHER THAN THAT WHICH WAS ALREADY SAID? HE DIDN’T NEED TO! TO SAY ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT IT WOULD NO DOUBT CONTRADICT HIS OWN COMMANDMENT TO THEM!!!!!!!

    Your claim is also contradicted by Elders Nelson and Oaks (see #33).

    YET REINFORCED BY TALMAGE’S!!!!!!!! I”M TALKING ABOUT FOREKNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE FRUIT!!!!!!!! TALMAGE SAID SATAN DECEIVED HER!!!!!

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (that was me tearing out my hair, as I now look like like Telly Savalas–and not just because I like lollipops)

  90. Moses 3:5 is an interpolative summary, giving the larger context for the physical creation (see #103), and D&C 77:12 fits that paradigm better than it fits yours.

    Read the chapter heading of Abraham 5, Gary.

    The Gods finish their planning of the creation of all things—They bring to pass the creation according to their plans.

    For example, they organized and prepared the earth that it might bring forth fruit, etc. They didn’t create the fruit, plants, etc at this time. They simply prepared the earth that this would be able to be done. Remember, he had yet to cause it to rain upon the Earth. I suppose you could argue that the plants on the earth at the time didn’t need rain to survive, but–then why make it rain at all?

    Follow the narrative. The first six days was the Spiritual creation (the planning thereof) and then they brought to pass the creation according to their plans. I can’t figure out how this could be interpreted as anything but happening on the seventh day.

    I have used absolutely nothing but scripture to back my assertions. I do not reject prophetic counsel. However, I have found that through my studies (and trust me, I’ve read everything I could find written on the creation and the fall) the counsel has done nothing but confuse and contradict. This is why, in my searching, I made the decision that the answers must be in the scriptures. Why else would God give us the Books of Moses and Abraham? To further our confusion? So we can have those interpreted as well? I say no. I firmly believe these books were given in order to clarify the missing/fallible portions of the Bible. To say that God continued to obscure and omit things even after these two revelations were given is a statement I’m not willing to make.

    I hope those out there that have followed this thread and have not commented will understand my POV.

  91. I am in agreement wit Tim in #109 on this one, just think about the temple presentation of this scene and what is Eve’s response to Satan when he presents the temptation to her? Think hard…

    When she answers with the question, this most likely indicates that they really hadn’t received any instruction into alternative forms of knowing good from evil and which is probably true for the simple reason that if they walked and talked with God about the plan of salvation, they would have had no temptations from that source, or in other words, no opposition presented to the teachings of God. In fact without temptation, could they have really sinned anyways and therefore again not knowing the difference between good and evil. Eve was truly deceived, and in other words, she was actually ‘beguiled’ which means he captivated, enchanted, or fascinated by Satan which probably made her bait for deception. Yep, Satan deceived her nothing more nothing less!!

    However, I do not agree with Tim’s assertion in #98 that they may not have hear the commandment directly from God himself given what the temple teaches about how God presented the Garden to Adam and Eve; unless the temple is way off!?! Not likely, God told them face-to-face that they were not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It may not be found in the scriptures, but it is clear in the temple, and always a better view from the temple!!

  92. Anonymoose,

    First off, thank you. Finally.

    Second, I did say that I was making an assumption that Eve did not hear the commandment directly from God, whereas Adam definitely did without a doubt, and may have passed the commandment on to Eve. I am willing to admit this is false as this is a large assumption on my part. It’s just an observation of the scriptures and how I reasoned Adam not succumbing to Satan (though I’m not sure where we learn outside of the temple that he was actually approached by Satan) and that Eve did. I was just throwing it out there to see what people thought.

    Thank you for your feedback.

  93. As for the end part of #114, if we think about this again from the temple point of view, I think we can reason that Adam had rejected Satan not simply in terms of words but by his own will.

    You can note that when Eve approached Adam after partaking of the fruit, she asks him if he intends to keep all of God’s commandments, which in turn he replies that he intends to keep all of them. Similarly, before this point, Satan does approach him first, which is in and of itself an interesting question as to why Adam first, and Adam explicitly denies Satan the chance, but again as you have mentioned, it is not clear in the scriptures that we have.

  94. Tim (#112)

    I have been reading, and at first you caught my attention. I looked into what you were saying, the scriptures and all, but what you say concerning the apostles being contradictory, one to another, then so does your scriptures. In further reading of the creation and the fall, I would have to side with Gary.

    According to what you are saying, the chapter heading for Abraham chapter 4 says that they were planning, same as chapter 5. For all we know, it took them thousands of years to plan this, my limited knowledge would lead me to believe that it took longer than that. However, if the previous chapters took a look into the planning process, which it says they were, and if they were planning on creating man on the sixth day, which they did (see Abraham 4:26 – and then down to verse 31 which states that this was the sixth time), then I would conclude that they would follow their planning and, as stated in chapter four, create man on the sixth day.

    Although you made me think and review these scriptures different than I had before, I am more sure now that the creation happened as has been explained.

    Concerning D&C 77 – It could very be easily explained as Gary has written (#110).

    Last, your thing about Eve and wisdom is not so conclusive either. You have yet, by your Talmage quote, responded that Eve could not have some wisdom. Wisdom does not necesarily mean to have forsight, but as Nephi stated in 2 Nephi 2, Adam very well could have knowing that if he did not partake man would not be. Talmage does not contradict the living apostles testimony. Besides, if you are saying that an apostle could be wrong (which I am not stating, one way or another), then couldn’t it be Talmage who is wrong?

  95. Nathan,

    First, I appreciate the well thought-out response. Thank you.

    For all we know, it took them thousands of years to plan this, my limited knowledge would lead me to believe that it took longer than that.

    I agree.

    I would conclude that they would follow their planning and, as stated in chapter four, create man on the sixth day.

    Abraham 5:5
    According to all that which they had said concerning every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Gods had not caused it to rain upon the earth when they counseled to do them, and had not formed a man to till the ground.

    Later it says that the Gods caused it to rain (bringing forth plant life, which was previously prepared) and “Formed man out of the dust of the ground,” I don’t see how this can be read as happening before the seventh “day”. Like you said, the sixth “day” had ended in Abr. 4:31. And yet we find out there was still no man to till the Earth.

    Read the entire verse of D&C 77:12 and the reciprocal comparison made between the creation and then the end of the world. It can’t justify the creation of man as anything but happening on the 7th day.

    Couldn’t it be Talmage who is wrong?

    Absolutely. Which is why I have only used scriptures to back up my assertions. I still do not see how one can reconcile Gary’s quotes with Talmage’s, though. Talmage clearly states that she had no wisdom in regards to the fruit. Her only action in eating the fruit “with intent to act contrary to the divine command.” Nelson and Oaks, etc. claim is that she ate the fruit with the fulfilling of the “first” commandment (which they never received–doesn’t make sense) in mind. You’re tellingme this doesn’t conflict.

    This is what I’m asserting, Nathan. That the only thing Eve knew concerning the fruit was what God told her about it and what Satan told her about it. She chose to follow Satan and reject God.

    If God had told Eve anything else about the fruit, he would have compromised his very own plan. IT HAD TO BE EVE’S DECISION COMPLETELY ON HER OWN! Otherwise why give her the choice? Why not force her to do it? Why would God absolutely forbid her to partake of the fruit, and then teach her all of the benefits of eating said fruit? This makes sense?

  96. One more thing (Boy, do I do this a lot),

    Interesting tidbit. The first six days of the creation all begin and end. However, the seventh does not–at least not in the scriptures. The seventh day does not end in Genesis, Moses, nor in Abraham. What does this tell us? If resting was all that God did on the seventh day, why didn’t it then say, “and the evening and the morning were the seventh day”, as it did the other six days?

    Any guesses as to why this is? Any guesses as to when the seventh day ended?

    I have my belief, though it is admittedly not in the scriptures. But I would like to know what thoughts you guys have.

  97. I’m fairly certain Tim is the illegitmate child I gave up for adoption when I was young. Which tells you how strong nature is over nurture.

    Tim, do as I say, not as I do. Don’t yell, or they will be annoyed with you. And rightly so, guys. rightly so.

    mother

  98. We learn–from other sources even more peculiar to mormons than modern scripture–that somehow Adam knew that by his partaking of the forbidden fruit “man might be.” According to the plot in the allegory, Adam decides to eat the fruit when he discovers that he and Eve will be separated if he doesn’t and, therefore, unable to have seed. Were did he get that wisdom? It could be that he was enlightened as Eve explained the situation to him. Yet, still, one has to wonder at his ability to grasp the paradox while lacking the abilty to comprehend good and evil. Somehow he did have the wisdom to comprehend the *greater* good–which implies that Eve may have possessed that same intuition.

  99. If Adam and Even didn’t sin, why were cheribim and a flaming sword placed to guard the way of the tree of life lest Adam and Eve partake and live forever in their sins?

  100. did it ever occur to anybody that maybe we are not able to comprehend all the details, so we’ve just been given important highlights? Because it seems to me that there’s way more that the Lord hasn’t revealed. Maybe it’s like a highlight reel on SportsCenter–giving highlights, but not the whole story. And again for two reasons: one-to test our faith and 2-we cannot comprehend the whole truth. What happens when you experience information overload? You tune out. By giving us minimal information, the Lord has sucked us in.

  101. Can anyone shoot holes in this theory by Bruce Satterfield (instructor at BYU-I)?

    “The reason the fruit was forbidden was a matter of individual responsibility. If God would have commanded Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit, then God would have been responsible for their fall and therefore would not have been in a position to save His posterity. The Fall must come by man’s agency rather than God imposing fallen conditions upon his children. When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit by their own volition, God was free to implement a plan that would help them overcome the consequences of the Fall.”

    and

    “Difference Between Adam’s Fall and Individual Sins
    Adam was taught that the atonement would be made effective for each person through the exercise of faith, repentance, and reception of the Holy Ghost (Moses 5:8; 6:51-52). Adam was confused. The only way to initiate mortality was by eating the forbidden fruit. Why must there be an atonement made for something that he was supposed to do? So he asked, “Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? (Moses 6:53)
    Atonement for Adam’s Fall
    In response the Lord first said: “Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden” (Moses 6:51-53). Adam and Eve had acted appropriately in the garden by eating the fruit thus opening the way for God’s children to come to mortality. However, eating the fruit brought upon Adam, Eve, and all mankind, mortal and eternal consequences. An atonement must be made in order to free man from these consequences. “

    They seem plausible to me, but no other authority I’ve heard or read seems to say these things. Are they all dense, or is he just mistaken?

  102. why do you want to shoot holes in a comment founded in the bible. maybe you need to go read Genisis again. If you are suggesting that God should have forced sin into the world youre up in the night. sounds like this satterfield guy has it right on.

  103. It seems that the application of the laws (sin vs transgression) is not solely based on the nature of the commandment (i.e. word of wisdom was not law when revealed but now is). It seems to have a great deal to do with covenants. The Anti-Lehi Nephites had committed physical murder (which is morally wrong), yet they repented and received forgiveness of their sins. They of course covenanted never to kill again, and they did not – even when “kill” actually meant “defending their own life”.

    So it seems to me that we can safely say that there are things that are considered sins and transgressions (and many of these may be social rather than religious), but that covenants make it possible to shift activities from being a transgression to being a sin. So, if we covenant not to speed, but we speed, it becomes a sin for us because we have broken our covenant not to speed.

  104. Tim, thanks for the comment below. VERY interesting!
    Thanks, Shara

    Interesting tidbit. The first six days of the creation all begin and end. However, the seventh does not–at least not in the scriptures. The seventh day does not end in Genesis, Moses, nor in Abraham. What does this tell us? If resting was all that God did on the seventh day, why didn’t it then say, “and the evening and the morning were the seventh day”, as it did the other six days?

  105. Talmage says what he says. It would be unfair to attempt to spin his words (ala clinton – depends on what “is” means). The following article is also definitive, and clearly states how Eve was deceived.

    Jess Christensen (an area seventy) gets it right:

    “Lucifer was also in the beginning. He “sought to destroy the agency of man, … [and being] the father of all lies” (Moses 4:3–4) entered the garden to deceive our first parents. He first talked with Adam, but Adam did not yield. Lucifer then tried “also to beguile Eve” (Moses 4:6). He questioned her: “Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Moses 4:7). Challenging one’s recollection of a past event can often create doubt. But Eve stood firm. Lucifer’s first stratagem failed.”
    “Ye shall not surely die,” protested Lucifer, directly contradicting the word of the Lord (Moses 4:10; see also D&C 29:41–42). “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Moses 4:11). Lucifer spoke a partial truth mixed with a falsehood. If Eve were to partake of the fruit, her eyes would indeed be opened “as gods” and she would begin to know good and evil; yet the notion that eating the fruit could immediately make Eve as the gods was a clever deception. The purpose of life can be fulfilled only when we have time to prepare to meet God and learn good and evil by our own experience (see Alma 12:22–26; D&C 29:39).
    At Lucifer’s suggestion, Eve began to notice that the forbidden fruit was good for food, or delicious, and pleasant to the eyes. Lucifer “knows well how to catch the eye and arouse the desire of the customer.” 4 Eve then chose to partake of the forbidden fruit. She subsequently encouraged Adam to partake (see Moses 4:12). Adam concluded that God’s command to remain with his wife (see Moses 4:18) was more important than His command to abstain from the fruit. Thus in the face of this enticement, “Adam fell that men might be” (2 Ne. 2:25).

    Jess L. Christensen, “The Choice That Began Mortality,” Ensign, Jan 2002, 36

    When the story is told properly, in sequence, then the inuendo of a courageous or wise choice goes away, or at least is placed where it belongs, in hindsight.

  106. The second Article of Faith (as far as I can find) has always referred to Adam’s choice to partake of the fruit as a transgression, which of course we are not responsible for.

    Knowing the difference between sin vs. transgression is an interesting distinction, but does not change the consequences of the act. Adam and Eve both knew Father told them not to partake of the fruit of that specific tree. They even knew the consequences should they decide to partake of the fruit of that tree.

    To reconcile all the quotes and scriptures cited above about weather Eve was wise, I think comes down to one question:

    Did Eve know that the goal of her creation and whole existence was to become like Father?

    The first thing the serpent said to Eve about the attributes of partaking of the fruit was that “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as the gods”

    If Eve knew she was suppose to become like Father, well here is the fast track, I’ll eat this forbidden fruit and bingo, goal attained. If Eve did not know she was suppose to become like Father then she decided for herself that she wanted to become like Father. Either way she was wise, but still beguiled by the serpent.

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