Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Satan’s First Plan

March 07th, 2014 by G.

Council in Heaven

Here is a Mormon model of the pre-existence. Christ presented a plan for us to experience mortality and Satan presented an alternate plan. Christ’s plan allowed full scope for our free agency, so we’d sin, which He would repair by atoning for the sin. Satan’s plan restrained our free agency through repression and tyranny and disinformation/propaganda and who knows, so that we wouldn’t sin. We voted to accept Christ, but Satan and his followers wouldn’t accept the vote, like king-men. Consistent with their plan, like king-men they then went to war to get by force what they had lost by vote. They lost this confrontation too and were thrown out. But the war continues. It has become a bandit resistance campaign of subversion and sabotage.

The model is wrong.

There was no vote. God commanded us to go (see Rameumpton’s excellent comment here). We obeyed. Satan did not obey. He offered an alternative.

Satan . . . was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

Moses 4:1

Satan doesn’t say what his plan was. But it probably wasn’t a plan to use force and compulsion. Elder Oaks points out that force and compulsion can only limit agency. They can’t remove it altogether. But Satan’s plan was to destroy agency.

Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man

Moses 4:3

The only way to destroy agency is to take away law and right and wrong. So Satan likely planned for us to not be moral agents at all. “Do as Thou Wilt,” he would command, and then he would look after us. We would be his blue-ribbon show cattle. The real choice in Heaven was something like the choice in Toy Story II between a risk-free but sterile existence or a meaningful life of love, damage, and loss. See also the blog favorite “Nothing in Heaven Works as it Ought.”

Satan’s second plan to use totalitarian means—force and fear, corruption and bribery, comprehensive propaganda schemes—all that came later after the Fall, as we can learn if we pay close attention at a certain place. That was when his first plan, his failsafe alternative, had already been rejected and he had determined to subvert the Father’s plan to the extent possible to prove it was a mistake.

When people say ‘that’s Satan’s plan!’, they ought to say it to efforts to strip out consequences, to undermine standards so no one fails and no one’s feelings get hurt, to be less “judgmental” and more “therapeutic.” We are surrounded by both of Satan’s plans.

Comments (6)
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March 07th, 2014 12:47:25

March 7, 2014

When we raise our hands in church, we are not truly voting at all. We are conscientiously acting in union, because unity is so important. “If ye are not one, ye are not mine”.

March 7, 2014

Excellent post, Adam. I can’t think of anything to add, really.

Bruce Charlton
March 8, 2014

@Adam – My feeling is that Satan revealed to God the Father, by his comment, that he (Satan) did not understand and/ or did not approve of the plan of salvation.

What Satan actually proposed was not possible.

Satan’s concern was revealed as being wholly about what people actually did (their actions) – which could be controlled.

Satan revealed by his statements that he was not concerned by Men’s souls – except perhaps taking pleasure in being able to coerce physical action (obedience) in despite of agency.

In other words, what Satan said he wanted to do was impossible (in that sense it was not an alternative plan to attain the same result – but a plan with a different aim altogether) – but Stan’s comment revealed the depth of Satan’s misunderstanding of God’s purpose, and indeed revealed his opposition to God’s purpose.

Adam G.
March 10, 2014

Bruce C.,
the idea that “Satan’s Plan” mostly relied on external coercion of what people actually did was a simplification that arose during the Cold War in response to Communism. This post argues that Satan’s plan is and was more complex than that. It involves not just external coercion but also propaganda and deceit, since reducing information reduces agency. It also relies on stripping things of their moral content and reducing the consequences of action, since free agency requires meaningful choices.

I think that it is dangerous for Mormons to think that Satan’s plan is just external coercion. Of the three methods of attacking agency, that is probably the least dangerous.

Bruce Charlton
March 11, 2014

@Adam. I suppose I cannot see how agency could itself be deleted since it is (I think) essential and eternal. Effective agency (depending on the ‘self’ which is a gift from God, a consequence of us becoming his children) could be attacked, but only by stripping away the divine spark – to which God would not consent. So what is left is a relatively ‘superficial’ thing, in the sense of manipulating action and loading choices while leaving agency/ free will intact. Yet I do perceive that this modern world seems to induce people to choose damnation, and I assume this choice is effective – so I suppose that the original Satanic plan could have been the opposite… I find it hard to reach a satisfactory conclusion on this.

Adam G.
March 11, 2014

Bruce C.,
I agree that the ability to will is inherent. But for that ability to mean anything, it requires an external creation in which to act and cause and experience consequences, and it requires a moral law that makes those consequences meaningful.

What I am arguing here is that coercing external obedience was only a late and secondary part of Satan’s plan. This post argues that trying to have the moral law not apply to humans, so that we had the status of animals with will and the ability to act but not the ability to act sinfully or righteously. In passing this post also argues that propaganda and lies are a totalitarian method of control that he favors as much as fear and coercion.

In a later post today http://www.jrganymede.com/2014/03/11/satans-plan-and-gods-silence/
I argue that overwhelming us with godly power and the obviousness of the good was another tactic that Satan tried to pursue. This would be a method of internal coercion, not external, because it would affect the will.

You are quite right that God wouldn’t permit any of these at a fundamental level and probably they’re impossible at that level. For instance, 2 Nephi 2 tells us that removing the moral law is tantamount to removing God. But its still helpful to understand what Satan is trying to do. It ties together a number of different threats. Instead of just seeing coercive measures as Satanic threats, we can now also recognize measures to strip actions of their consequences and of their moral value*, and even demands for signs and other extremely overt action by God, all as a suite of measures to undermine moral freedom.

It also illuminates the Garden of Eden story, I think. There is very little there about the evils of coercion. But there is innocence, and there are no bad consequences, and the two are inextricably linked.

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