In 2nd Nephi Chapter 2, Lehi explains to Jacob that there are two types of beings. Things to act and things to be acted upon.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
He continues in verse 26
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
So why is this the third post? Cleon Skousen uses these scriptures as part of his setup for explaining “The Real Meaning of the Atonement” which was a talk I truly loved. It made a lot of sense to me. We were sent to this Earth because we were beings designed “to act” and who had free-will. However, because we were inclined towards wickedness and not perfect obedience to the laws of Heaven, we would offend God and more distinctly we would offend all the other beings who were perfectly obedient (all non-human beings). In fact this would in essence force God’s hand as he would cease to be God if he didn’t punish us. Alma 42:13 reads:
13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.
As part of Cleon’s talk we learn a new doctrine that has never been shared by a Prophet of God, and that is the fallibility of God doctrine. Cleon Skousen was a well-learned scholar that wanted to understand why there was an atonement. Are his teachings valid though? He used scripture to support his thesis. The first time I read his talk, I could see how it all made sense. I felt the Spirit enlighten me with understanding and could see how Christ’s Atonement was sufficient to save all of God’s children. But how do I know if it is true? It was not spoken by God’s Prophet or one of Christ’s Apostles.
Boyd K Packer did teach about the atonement, wherein he used an allegory of a young man who went into debt and couldn’t pay back the loan. Christ came and paid the loan off, and then the young man worked to pay Christ off. This talk implies that God is demanding the payment, and that despite Christ’s mercy, we still need to work really hard because all that has changed is that we owe Christ and not God. This is vastly different from Cleon’s talk. But this actually came from an Apostle.
Therefore, is it possible that unofficial channels can receive new doctrine for the Church? Is it possible that God could truly cease to be God? Is God literally walking a razor’s edge in this Great Plan of Happiness? If he were to cease being God, what would that do to His creations? Would utter chaos ensue? Put another way, what if Christ actually failed at the Atonement? What would that mean for all of us? Was there a backup plan? If there wasn’t a backup plan, because there was no way Christ would fail, then why did He even have to go through with it? The questions begin to mount, but I will continue to explore this issue in future posts.