Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

God of the Gaps: Do not Cast Yourself Off the Temple

July 12th, 2016 by G.

About a decade ago, I noticed a trend.  Whenever I pointed out to liberal Mormons that some vastly silly proposal of theirs would wreck the Church, merely because it had wrecked all the other churches where it had been tried, I got two kinds of responses.

From the progressives in Mormon skins, the response was indifference.  The Church was not their allegiance, progressivism was, so they did not care.

From the genuine Mormons who were merely colonized by progressivism–the ones where the infection had not killed off their faith yet–the response was more irenic.  No, they assured me, this was God’s church so he would never let bad things happen to it.That same beautiful irenicism cropped up elsewhere.  Perfectly ordinary Mormons–at various times, in various ways–seemed to think that as long as they were “doing the right thing”-usually pretty narrowly defined–God was sure to smooth the path before them.

Even otherwise conservative Mormons have expressed doubt that God expects celibacy from the homosexual–or rather, they have expressed confidence that He does not–because celibacy would be hard.   When I point out that homosexuality clearly does not work within the family framework of reality that the gospel teaches, they smile sweetly.  Oh, they say,  God will figure something out.

Mutatis mutandi, I have had the same sort of conversation about media exposure.  Sure, it seems like a bad thing to expose oneself and one’s kids to a diet of mockery from the Great and Spacious Building but . . . (hand wave) God . . .

There is a positive sense in which God is a God of the gaps.  But too many of us have come to see God as a God of the gaps in a stupid way.  When we see that our attempts to Medize with the world are bound to lead to disaster, we expect God to make up the difference.  We believe that if we throw ourselves off the temple, He will catch us:

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God

Where this failing comes from, I don’t know.  Perhaps it is simply weakness.

Perhaps it comes from an incomplete account of God’s character.  Our Loving Father is a Stern Father.  He has something of the paterfamilias about Him.

Perhaps it comes from an incomplete understanding of what loving family relationships are.  The children are not passive objects of the parents’ love.  Love is always reciprocal.  It requires something from and rewards both sides.  God wants us to enter into a fuller, ever more loving relationship with Him.  His immediate object is not our lotus-eating bliss.

Perhaps it comes from an incomplete understanding of evil.

To deny the existence of Satan and the reality of his evil power and influence is as foolish as ignoring the existence of electricity. We know electricity is real; we see and feel its power. We also know about war, hatred, backbiting, false witnesses, cheating, and the broken hearts and broken homes caused by the moral sins of modern Babylon. Do members of this church feel a lack of evidence in the reality of Satan and his power?

thus David B. Haight.


Catholics apparently suffer from the same malaise.

Orthodox Catholics, on the other hand, believe the Church is indestructible, in which case she may be confronted with sinners and heretics but never by a true existential enemy.  They thus resemble in political ineptness the Gnostics, as described by Voegelin, who forget the contingency of their social order’s existence, retreat into an essentialist dream world, and respond to exterior threats with ineffectual virtue-signaling.

Other Posts Inspired by the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1973 General Conference

Comments (10)
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July 12th, 2016 07:30:37

C.S. Lewis
July 12, 2016

“Perhaps it comes from an incomplete account of God’s character. Our Loving Father is a Stern Father. He has something of the paterfamilias about Him.”

He is not a tame Lion.

[…] God of the Gaps: Do not Cast Yourself off the Temple G […]

July 12, 2016

Matt Murdock: Do you believe in the Devil, Father?
Father Lantom: You mean… as a concept?
Matt Murdock: No. Do you believe he exists? In this world, among us.
Father Lantom: You want the short answer or the long one?
Matt Murdock: Just the truth.
Father Lantom: When I was in seminary I was more studious than pious, more skeptical than most of my peers. I had this notion which I was more than willing to speak about, at length, to whoever I could corner, that the Devil was inconsequential. Minor figure in the grand scheme.
Matt Murdock: Not very Catholic of you.
Father Lantom: Uh-huh, yeah. In my defense, in the scriptures, the Hebrew word “Satan” actually means “adversary.” It’s applied to any antagonist. Angels and humans, serpents and kings. Medieval theologians reinterpreted those passages to be about a single monstrous enemy. And, in my youthful zeal, I was certain I knew why: propaganda. Played up to drive people into the church.
Matt Murdock: So you don’t believe he exists.
Father Lantom: Am I done talking?
Matt Murdock: Sorry.
Father Lantom: Years later, I was in Rwanda trying to help local churches provide aid and sanctuary to refugees. I’d become close with the village elder, Gahiji. He and his family had the respect of everybody, Hutu and Tutsi alike. He’d helped them all through famines, disease. The militia liked to force Hutu villagers to murder their neighbors with machetes. But nobody would raise a hand against Gahiji. They said, “Well how can we kill such a holy man?” So the militia commander sent soldiers with orders to cut his head off in front of the entire village. Gahiji didn’t try to put up a fight. Just asked for the chance to say goodbye to his family. By the time he was done, even the soldiers didn’t wanna kill him. So they went to their commander and asked permission to shoot him. At least give him a quick death. The commander wanted to meet this man who had won the respect of so many. He went to Gahiji talked with him in his hut for many hours. Then he dragged him out in front of his village and hacked him to pieces along with his entire family. In that man who took Gahiji’s life, I saw the Devil. So yes, Matthew. I believe he walks among us, taking many forms.

John Mansfield
July 12, 2016

The message of Alma and Amulek that was ferociously, violently opposed by those in Ammonihah following the doctrine of Nehor was “whosoever repents, and hardens not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.”

Or as the Nehor-followers put it, “he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.”

July 18, 2016

My ward is petering out. The bishop/eq pres said if we get any smaller/less active, we’ll be at branch level.

We haven’t had an adult male baptism in 7 years. We haven’t even had an investigator in EQ for two or three years.

July 18, 2016


July 18, 2016

“Well, Jesus will come before it ever gets too bad.” That’s how I most often hear this sentiment expressed.

Bruce Charlton
July 19, 2016

My interpretation of this is from the perspective that repentance is something close-to being the core value of Christianity. The Liberals are correct that God does not (it would be ridiculous) expect perfect behave from us, and that lapses are forgiven – BUT this absolutely requires repentance.

SO when we behave suboptimally we must repent that failure and must not defend the lapses – must not say that our failures are not-really failures. If (or when) we do make this claim that sin is not sin – then that itself becomes a further sin which requires repentance.

When I say ‘must’ I mean this as a personal principle. It is not a matter of God punishing us for failing to repent – it is that by failing to repent we choose to reject God; we choose to reject God’s created order. We thereby damn ourselves.

Failure to repent is simply our personal choice to reject salvation. Since choice (free will/ agency) is a real fact of Life, then this represents *self*-damnation.

The gates of heaven are open – that was the gift of Christ; but we have-to want-to go in under our own steam, we cannot be shoved-in.

Failing to repent – that is, failing to acknowledge-the-reality-of our sins and other failures – is merely a roundabout way of rejecting divine order, of saying that we personally do not want what God has to offer – and preferring to ‘go it alone’. And if that is what we want, that is what we will get.

July 19, 2016

Your last two lines are exactly the message of the Korihor story in the Book of Mormon, about which I’m posting tomorrow.

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