A friend of the JG and a friend of the Mormons has sent us the following for discussion:
I was speaking with a local CJCLDS member, who strikes me as an intelligent and informed man, but nevertheless his conclusions struck me as possibly incorrect and I was hoping to confer with another intelligent and informed member.
He argued that 1) God is omniscient, 2) He knew before creating the world that Adam & Eve would fall. 3) God, before creating the world, knew that His Son would be crucified (I phrased it “tortured”).
That’s straightforward enough, but it had a couple “twists” that made it difficult for me. That the fall was good, and God’s will, and that the crucifixion was also a good (that is planned, before the world’s creation, that God specifically created this version as opposed to even trying to make a “fixed” or better version).

This was also applied to the plane of speculation and other worlds, wherein the man seemed to imagine an innumerable number of crucifixions and falls as necessary and fundamental to every possible planet.

My impression is that the crucifixion was primarily a terrible and contingent event, but made good, rather than in some sense an essential planned good from before creation

-thus Andrew.

Anyone is invited to respond, Andrew is invited to comment also, and anyone is welcome to disagree with any of my own views on the subject. But as best as I can, there they are.

First, some groundwork, on just how detailed official Mormon doctrine really is.

There is considerable grey area between those beliefs that are clearly doctrines of the Church and those beliefs that are clearly folklore.
. . .
Think of Mormon doctrine as a spectrum. At one end you have doctrine that is found repeatedly and expressly in the scriptures, has been repeatedly and expressly preached by the prophets from Joseph Smith to the present, is a frequent subject of exhortation from the pulpit or in Sunday School classes and other church settings, is part of the general understanding that Mormons have of the gospel, and is an integral part of current Mormonism as it is actually lived. Anything that meets all those criteria is clearly official doctrine by any standard. So, for example, there is no question that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of mankind, who died to save us from sin. Something that isn’t expressly stated in scripture, hasn’t been preached by any of the prophets, isn’t taught over the pulpit and in other church settings, isn’t part of the sensus communis of the Mormon people, and isn’t an integral part of their lived experience, isn’t official doctrine by any standard. In between you have considerable grey area and have to exercise judgment.

-from the post Mormons Get Their Own Planet When They Die. There is much more at the link on this topic that is worth reading.

Is God omniscient? There is a respectable minority of LDS thinkers in good standing (actually in good standing, not “in good standing”) who argue that God can’t foreknow how we’ll exercise our free will. Blake Ostler chief among them. But my impression is that even with these guys, they concede that God foreknew the Fall and the Atonement (including the necessity for Christ to die and suffer, if not specifically torture by crucifixion). Granted, there are no specific scriptures that I can think of offhand that state this, although the reference in Revelations to ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” implies it. But if fits with the tenor of LDS thought, which is that fallen mortal life and therefore the atonement are both necessary. We generally reject the idea that Eden was what we were meant for, and that mortal life and the atonement are plan B. For that, there is a pretty solid LDS consensus. My own view is that God didn’t try to come up with a better system, because there is no better system. To the extent most Mormons and Mormon authorities have considered the matter, I think they would agree with me that there was no better alternative. Explanations why probably differ and/or are incomplete. I have advanced one possible explanation, that something like the Fall and the atonement are inherent in the idea of agency (i.e, “free will”), here and here respectively.  See also the post Damnation is Inevitable.

So Fall and Atonement are necessary for great ends.  Does that mean they are good?  The distinction is probably rhetorical.  Is death good?  I would say know, not in itself, but many Mormons would say it is, in a way, because of what it leads to.  It’s a semi-arbitrary choice to treat death itself as the unit of analysis or death+results as the unit of analysis.  I haven’t found a practical or doctrinal difference that results from the distinction.  It’s largely a matter of personality and emphasis.

The stuff about multiple Christs is very speculative. It’s something Mormons can and do believe, some of them, but I have never seen a reason too.  An ‘infinite and eternal’ atonement can surely stretch to cover any number of folks, is the way I see it.


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