Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunday School Lesson Recap: The Atonement: Questions about Becoming Like God

My wife, my oldest son and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting today on the Atonement (outlines of our talks coming when I get the time), so in Sunday School we held another question and answer session about the Godhead, the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement. Two week ago, one of the students had asked a question that we didn't have time to discuss adequately, and I told them we would do so in a different lesson - so we started with that question.

1) When we talk about becoming like God, do we mean that we will end up as "equals" to Heavenly Father - or is Heavenly Father the "top God", so we always will be subject to / below Him?

First, I asked how the students would answer that question - if any of them had a particularly strong belief one way or the other. Two of the students said they tend to see it as becoming like God but always being subordinate to Heavenly Father, and one of them used the example of studying Greek mythology and how Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were the "ruling Gods" among the broader group of gods. I mentioned how interesting it is that our Godhead / Trinity concept is so similar in that regard, being composed of three gods, and then I described how members differ in how they answer the question - that, like so many other topics, faithful members can disagree or reach different conclusions.

2) Where does God live? Isn't there something in the scriptures that talks about a planet where God lives? Will we live on our own planets and create / manage our own universes?

We read from Abraham about Kolob, and I pointed out that it is said to be "near unto God" - NOT the actual dwelling place of God. We talked about our Article of Faith that mentions the fate of this Earth - that it will become a paradise and that we tend to interpret that to mean that it will become the Celestial Kingdom for those who lived on it. I mentioned the Church's recent statement that says we don't teach officially that each couple will get their own planet, and I said that we have no idea, really, if Heavenly Father lives somewhere with Heavenly Mother on a planet of their own - or if they were once human (the famous couplet) and live somewhere with other God-couples who also lived on whatever "Earth" was their mortal home - or if there is some other arrangement for them and us. I had mentioned in my Sacrament Meetings talk Elder Maxwell's quote about the dimensions of the cross not being as important as what happened on it, and I told them that this sort of discussion was a great example of not getting so caught up in the details that we miss the central message - that it's FAR more important that we believe in becoming like God than exactly where and in what situation we will be living.

3) When I mentioned the quote about the cross, that lead to a discussion of different views about the cross - why it happened that way, questions about the form of the cross used, where the cross fits in our theology, etc.

The main take-away from the discussion that I want to record here was that we do NOT reject the cross and shouldn't reject or ridicule others' use of the cross as a symbol of their faith, even if we don't use it as much as or like they do. I told them that the cross for most faithful Christians is like our temple garment - that they wear it as a manifestation and reminder of their faith. I told them that if we don't want people to mock the temple garment, we shouldn't mock their use of the cross.

That ended our question and answer period, so I used the remaining time to discuss again the Beatitudes and what they mean in our lives - since the main point of my Sacrament Meeting talk was that Jesus' life is just as important a part of the Atonement as the Garden of Gethsemane and Golgotha - and that we limit the Atonement and miss one of the most powerful elements of it when we focus exclusively on the Garden and the Cross, as important as they are.

1 comment:

ji said...

You know, our own Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants both clearly say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God -- our own scriptures -- and yet we seem to take so much effort to make them three Gods. I wish we didn't do that so much.

Regarding our search for Heavenly Father, I find great instruction in the first part of John ch. 14 -- based on that, I see little need to look beyond the Son in an effort to find the Father. And that being so, I'm all the more troubled by a thought of looking for a mother. Thread in the tapestry of Mormon thought, I can live with -- doctrine goes too far for me.

I shared some thoughts with the website on the recent posting, and they assured me the article was intended as a scholarly article, not a doctrinal article, and the footnotes at the bottom are supposed to make that true. I wish the article never appeared, but there it is.

In this life, in my mind, we need to try to be like Jesus Christ. He is our examplar, not anyone else. At least, as one faithful Latter-day Saint to another, I tend to see it.