There are 15 thoughts on “An Essay on the One True Morality and the Principle of Freedom”.

  1. I am in total agreement with Darrell H’s comments herein, and I will continue trying to grasp the “deep and ponderous thought[s]” of this essay.

    I have, however, two important (for me, at least) points/complaints/clarifications:
    1. The author states – wrongly, I believe – “Accordingly, in eternity there are … three celestial degrees, an unrevealed number of terrestrial degrees, and telestial degrees as numerous and varied as the stars of heaven.” I believe his “three celestial degrees” reference arises from – but misunderstands – D&C 131:1, which reads, “In the celestial GLORY there are three heavens or degrees” (emphasis mine).
    In my view, this verse can be understood more correctly as “In the celestial [i.e., eternal] REALM there are three heavens [kingdoms] or degrees” (emphasis mine). Thus, the Celestial (wholely undivided), the Terrestrial and the Telestial “kingdoms or degrees” – see D&C 76 – together make up the “celestial glory” described in D&C 131:1.
    2. Also, in my view, the author errs in stating that “one-third” of all pre-mortal spirits (“many billions,” according to his estimate) followed Lucifer in a rebellion against Father. Scripture (both latter-day and ancient) states it differently: “… and also a THIRD PART of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency” (D&C 29:36, emphasis mine; cf. Revelation 8:8-12; 9:15,18; JST, Revelations 12:4).
    A “third part” does not necessarily equate to “one-third.” For example, if we arbitrarily assign some of the world’s countries as being “third-world” countries, it follows there may be some number of “first-world” and “second-world” countries as well. Thus, any one subset of the whole – regardless of the number – is a “third part” without necessarily being numerically “one-third” of the whole .
    These two points, of course, are not at all the thrust of this challenging essay, and may well be important only to myself. But I believe they ARE important (again, emphasis mine).

    • Great point about the portion of us who decided to ally with Satan.
      I think you could have simplified it much more by saying that “a third part” simply refers to a named part within an unspecified number of parts. We may know that a third part existed but have no way of knowing how many other parts there were as well.

  2. Perhaps Satan’s alternate plan was more along the lines of simply giving mankind no laws at all. Alma tell us that where no law is given, no punishment is provided – hence no sin is committed. All people then are innocent of sin and not in need of redemption. Since there is no law, agency to obey or not obey is moot. Agency is virtually denied without meaningful choice. Of course, we would have no growth in knowledge and experience, and so the plan ultimately doesn’t work. But it might have appealed to some, including Satan, who really don’t care all that much about living under law. Or at least prefers all men becoming “a law unto themselves.” Just speculating….

  3. It is my understanding that Joseph Smith taught:

    “The contention in heaven was—Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the Devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the Devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 7 April 1844, p. 357.

    I understand you to be saying that the sole point the two plans differed on was whether or not those who sinned against the Holy Ghost would be saved, with Satan saying he would accomplish this. I do not understand this difference as being the singular and only distinction between the two plans and the war in Heaven that resulted thereto.

    Our Heavenly Father wants us to be like Him, and His plan, with a Savior, makes it so we have the opportunity to learn how to choose right and begin to become like Him. Satan’s plan does not say anything about becoming like Heavenly Father. It does not indicate, let alone promise, a path to becoming like the Father. It only promised, as reported in Moses 4:1-3, that none of us would be “lost,” (whatever that means). And it appears that this promise of not being lost was regardless of our choices, regardless of our actions, and regardless of our thoughts and efforts. It was a ironclad guarantee. In the end, as Moses 4:3 reports, Satan’s plan opted to “destroy the agency of man,” and because of that and that Satan wanted the glory for himself, he was cast down. Accordingly, the war in Heaven does not seem to me solely about whether the sons of Perdition would or would not be saved. It was about preserving agency and our ability to become like God.

    • Brett,

      As I understand The Words of Joseph Smith to be a somewhat difficult book to get ahold of, here is the citation, spelling and grammar as in the original.

      George Laub Journal
      April the 6th, 1843 By Joseph Smith our Prophet

      Now concerning Spirits First of all, or in the beginning, the great Eloheam in the Hebrew meaning the god of all Gods called a grand council &[c] and the[y] counseled to form this planet on which we are
      now or do dwell at present. The[y] spoke and earth from cayos [chaos] sprang by their workmanship Cayos [Chaos] being there matered mater element The[y] saw till time should be no more and the[y] spoke concerning the redemption of this world and formed limited sircumstances concerning the redemption Jesus Christ being the greater light or of more intelligence for he loved rituousness and hated iniquity he being the Elder Brother Presented himself for to come and redeem this world as it was his right by inheritance he stated he could save all those who did not sin against the holy ghost & the[y] would obey the code of laws that was given But their sircumstances ware that all who would sin against the Holy ghost should have no forgiveness neither in this world nor in the world to come, for they had strove aganst light and knowledg after the[y] had tasted of the good things of the world to come the[y] should not have any pardon in the world to come because the[y] had a knowledg of the world to come and ware not willing to abide the law therefore the[y] can have no forgiveness there but must be most miserable of all and never can be renewed again referred to 6 chapter of Hebrews

      But Satan or Lucifer being the next heir and had alloted to him great power and authority even prince of power of the eir He spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all [he] even those who sined against the holy ghost and he accused his brethren and was herld [hurled] from the council for striving to breake the law emediatly and there was a warfare with Satan and the gods and the[y] hurld Satan out of his place and all them that would not keep the law of the councill But he himself being one of the council would not keep his or their first estate for he was one of the Sons of perdition and concequently all the Sons of perdition become devils &[c].

      That was what it was all about.

      • Have any other resources that might shed some light on the actual differences in Satan’s plan? I’ve actually been very curious, considering that 1/3 of us seemed to agree with him.

  4. The author states:
    “The one true morality exists, and it contains all possible ways to live made possible by the constitutive function of the complex compound of normative opposites, and its operation is manifested in the perfect nature of God, as the supreme possibility of personhood contained in it, and hence in all things good created by him.”

    With respect, in his 40 plus pages, I cannot discern what the author means by the use of the clause “the one true morality.” I think this effort, prodigious as it is, turns what is simple into confused ramble. The Savior declared that life eternal is to know the “true God.” John 17:3. I can get my mind around that. I cannot with the present effort. Further, I reject the notion that i at least took away from the author’s paper that Lucifer’s plan was a possible plan worthy of consideration by the Father. It was a lie from the beginning, promising the impossible–salvation without learning and having the power to choose righteousness. Satan’s plan from the start was one of rebellion and an affront to the Father. There was nothing in it to value or consider. I respect the considerable effort expended in the article and the obvious lengthy thought put into it. But I cannot support philosophical extravagance that creates clouds of uncertainty when the scriptures teach clearly and concisely.

    • That Sorensen’s essay may prove difficult for some to follow is understandable. His topic is important and it is one that Latter-day Saints have not taken the time to carefully unpack. Sorensen’s essay takes a tack that is new, in that he articulates an ethical theory based not on secular philosophical theories like Kant or utilitarianism. He draws his theory from the Scriptures. He is able to show us that there is a logical and coherent conception of morality that is implicit in the Restored Gospel. To understand that conception of morality requires us to take seriously the pre-mortal existence, where we were presented with various ethical conceptions, and where we chose to follow the Savior and his plan. Latter-day Saints have accustomed themselves to relying on speculation about the pre-existence, where they have relied on notions that have little or no connection to the Gospel. Sorensen’s essay marks a change in this regard. He has done an exceptional job in beading together the Scriptural references to provide us with a clear account of the events in the pre-existence, which in turn make clear the nature of the moral principles that underwrite the Restored Gospel and provide humankind with the moral direction they need to order their lives so that they can join with our Heavenly Father to enjoy eternal life. This conception of morality also recognizes the dignity of Heavenly Father’s children and the importance of their freedom.

      Sorensen’s essay is not really that difficult to follow. It is in fact plain and clear. What readers need to do is accept the challenge to read something that takes them beyond their previous prejudices about the Gospel. I have every confidence that what is required to appreciate Sorensen’s essay is an effort on our part to see what we have missed in the message of the Restoration.

      • @ Ted V: I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say in your comment, with the exception of the first sentences of both your paragraphs. I’d reword your first sentence, “That Sorensen’s essay will no doubt prove difficult–perhaps impossible–for most to follow is almost certain.” I think Sorensen’s essay actually IS difficult to follow and is not at all “plain and clear.” As I see it, your view that it is plain and clear says something about you and your impressive ability to understand it, not something about the article’s inherent clarity.

        Because I love what Sorensen is exploring and proposing, I’m terribly disappointed that he uses such inaccessible prose. Especially when a topic is inherently deep and complex a writer needs to be exceptionally clear in his statements and clearly link his ideas together. I actually think Sorensen does himself and his audience quite a disservice by writing in the style he’s chosen, unless he’s only writing to “philosophiles” because most saints simply won’t be able to follow him.

        After having first listened to his essay I’m going to now go back and read it in an attempt to extract his major arguments and their nuances and implications. I long for discussions like his and wish he’d in fact been clearer in how he presented his ideas. Only then can “readers … accept the challenge to read something that takes them beyond their previous prejudices about the Gospel.” But wading through such dense writing will likely stop most in their tracks early–as it temporarily did me–and the whole effort to convey new insights into the scriptures and Father’s plan will be stifled.

    • Brett, I disagree with your comment: “There was nothing in [Satan’s plan] to value or consider.”

      If there was nothing in Lucifer’s plan to value or consider, then why did wholly one-third of Father’s children decide to follow Lucifer’s plan and be cast out of heaven? It seems that there was something there that caused a whole lot of souls to lose their first estate, for Lucifer won them over. I think we need to think deeper about these things, and I appreciate Sorensen’s exploration.

      • Bryce, I appreciate your point. We should ponder why one third of God’s children opted to rebel against the Father and join Lucifer in his rebellion. In that sense we should be considering these things. I was inarticulate. My statement you referenced was meant to disagree with the notion that Satan’s plan had some sort of substantive merit to it. In my view, it was and is a lie, incapable of doing that promised. Just because one third of the hosts of heaven joined Lucifer does not somehow instill in Lucifer’s plan some level of merit as a viable alternative.

        • Satan’s proposal was simply this: to redeem those who sinned against the Holy Ghost, according to Joseph Smith (WJS, 273), which is otherwise known as the unpardonable sin (JST Mark 3:34). Otherwise, the proposals were the same. Therefore, it is not clear what you mean when you say there was no substantive merit to Satan’s proposal; it’s not clear that what you are addressing in your first comment is actually what Satan proposed.

          It is commonly taught that Satan’s offer was one of compulsory righteousness, but one cannot require redemption, as Satan offered (Moses 4:1), unless sin and death are in the world, which necessarily enter in through transgression, which would be an odd occurrence in a world in which unrighteousness was impossible.

          • I would agree that Satan’s plan was not one of compulsory righteousness, but I don’t know that I can go as far as you do in the conclusion you draw from that. Lehi tells us that opposition is required in all things, and it appears that Satan’s plan was one that removed the opposition. That difference is a major one between the two proposals. They were hardly “about the same,” as you suggest.

          • Brant,

            You say, “it appears that Satan’s plan was one that removed the opposition.” This reading is not supported by the scripture, neither the Prophet’s teachings.

            Joseph said the sole point they differed on was whether or not those who sinned against the Holy Ghost would be saved.

            It’s not “my” conclusion which is drawn, but Joseph’s teaching. Please see Words of Joseph Smith, page 273, as cited.

    • I can only agree. I am very disappointed with Mr. Sorenson’s lack of precision and the way he flings about the phrase “the one true morality”, as if the reader is supposed to somehow magically know what it means. Mr. S says “the one true morality” contains all the infinite possible ways of living both in time and in eternity. So is that how he defines The One True Morality. Makes about as much sense as John Locke’s “immaterial substance” , against which the Lord rails in the D&C. This essay was a colossal waste of my time. More precision please! Let’s be rigorous if we claim to be philosophers.

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