The role of agency in political systems


The heavenly principle of agency is fundamental to both the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ

Agency is the ability to act for oneself1, and not to be acted upon2.

All created things are given agency3, but this article addresses only the agency of man.

The Lord taught that agency was given to man from the very beginning4. In fact, it is the very reason we exist5.

Agency is tied to awareness6. Both light and truth allow us to become aware and the more light and truth we possess, or the more aware we are, the greater agency we have7.

The scriptures indicate that agency was given twice. First, it was given at the beginning8, when we first came into existence or when we first became aware of our existence9. The second time it was given was in mortality10, after we passed through the veil of forgetfulness and became newly aware of our existence, as at the beginning.

Agency is power and, in fact, it is the very power of God, as well as our own power11. It can be increased until one becomes as God is, namely, omnipotent or almighty, or it can be decreased until it reaches zero, in which case, the sorry being who has lost all his agency is acted upon12, instead of acting. (This is what Lehi spoke of when he mentioned that we were created to act and not to be acted upon, except for those who receive the punishment at the last day. This is why some are cast down, or thrust down, or fallen, terms which signify that the agency or power to keep themselves in the presence and kingdom of God is lost, due to their own actions.)

God does all things through agents13. All who possess agency are known as agents14.

Agency, being a gift15 from God, is centered in God, meaning that the more God-like we are, the more agency we possess, and vice versa.

First faith, then agency

The precursor to agency is faith, another gift of God. It is faith that allows agency to be possessed, even faith centered in God. The more faith we possess, the more agency is granted, the less faith possessed, the less agency. If we lose all faith, we lose all agency and thus become like Satan, who is devoid of both faith and agency. If we gain all faith, we gain all agency, and thus become entirely like God.

Faith and agency are heavenly principles and the entire kingdom of God operates on them. This is why all things are done (the action or power to do being agency) according to the faith of men and why God works (the action or power to work being agency) according to the faith of the children of men. (Nevertheless, the link between faith and agency is not the topic of this article and I will refocus my remarks on agency alone.)

Agency’s counter-principle

The power of God, agency, is based upon the actions of agents, which voluntarily cooperate to get things done, with no means of compulsion employed. God has granted that all creation act for itself and not be compelled to do his will. Compulsion, or force, then, is anti-god, or against the nature of God and thus is the opposite of agency.

Satan claims all things diametric to the principles and character of God. The devil works not just on different principles than God, but also on completely opposite principles. He has embraced force and coercion and all things that have his stamp upon them inevitably work to a greater or lesser degree on the principle of compulsion, slavery and bondage. Coercion is as much power as is agency; both principles get work done. Nevertheless, there is a world of difference between doing something voluntarily and being forced to do the same thing. In this way, what is of God and what is of Satan can be easily recognized.

Jesus was for agency, Satan was for force

In the pre-mortal existence, at the council in heaven, both Jesus and Satan desired and offered to become our Savior, the Only Begotten of the Father. The difference in their approach, though, was that Jesus wanted to keep our agency intact, whereas Satan wanted to remove it and replace it with compulsion, making us his slaves. His amendment to the Father’s plan would have changed the state of things entirely and we would have been forced to obey his will.

Rebellious spirits in heaven lost their agency

Agency, as always, was active in the pre-mortal existence and two thirds of the heavenly host supported or sustained the Father’s calling of Jesus as our Savior, whereas one third went with Satan. Due to their rebellion, the one-third lost their agency, something they had sought to destroy anyway, and are now temporarily residing upon this planet under the control of Satan, who uses them to tempt us to commit sin. They have no free will of their own and all of their actions, words and thoughts are done, spoken and thought under duress, which is why all the temptations of these devils are directly attributed by the scriptures to Satan himself. Although these fallen spirit children of heavenly Father have become like the devil in nearly all ways, becoming devils themselves, they are not co-equal with him in his kingdom, but are merely angels to the devil, for they are his slaves.

How Satan destroys agency

It is important to understand that Satan’s heaven-originated plan to destroy the agency of man and compel them to obey him, which was 33% successful in the courts on high, is also used here on earth. I quote one of the paragraphs above to illustrate how this is done:

Agency is tied to awareness6. Both light and truth allow us to become aware and the more light and truth we possess, or the more aware we are, the greater agency we have7.

As Satan cannot compel man in any way, because men who are born on this planet still have their agency, nor can he forcefully take away a person’s agency, his tactic is to deceive men into giving away their agency (to him), thus gaining control over them or compelling them to do his will. If Satan can reduce the amount of light and truth we possess and/or substitute them with darkness and falsehoods, he can succeed in reducing or eliminating our agency.

It is agency that stops Satan from gaining control over us. If you eliminate agency altogether, he gains full control over us. If you reduce agency partially, he gains partial control over us. Whatever happens, one form of power will reside in us: either agency or coercion. If the power is agency, we are in control, meaning we can act and not be acted upon. If the power is coercion, the devil is in control, meaning we act only under duress by the devil, becoming his slaves.

As agency nullifies the power of the devil, it is the major obstacle to Satan’s plan to rule the universe. In heaven Satan could not compel anyone to do his will, nor could he deceive anyone, but on earth the rules are different. Those who come under Satan’s power and influence can use their physical bodies to force others to do things they would not otherwise do. They can also use their influence to spread lies. Thus, Satan’s approach here on earth is two pronged: first, get as many of the children of men sinning through the temptations of devils (his angels), thereby giving up portions of their agency to Satan and making them his servants and slaves, to do his bidding; and secondly, to use these mortal servants to enslave the masses physically and to surround them in an environment of sin and deception, thereby making it easier to destroy the agency of mankind.

Satan got his wish

Satan desired (or sought) the opportunity to destroy16 the agency of man while he still resided in heaven. He effectively destroyed the agency of one third of the children of God, but the other two thirds he couldn’t touch, as they would not follow him. Afterward, he was placed in a position by God whereby he might destroy the agency of the other two thirds. In other words, God granted Satan according to his desire17. He wanted to enslave the children of God and he was given the opportunity to do so. Had Satan and his angels been immediately banished into outer darkness, the spirits who chose Jesus in the pre-mortal existence (the two-thirds) would have come down to earth without a devil to tempt them. This would have been akin to living in the Millennium, whereby infants grow up without sin and live to the age of a tree. It is only because God placed Satan upon the earth that it is possible for agency to be destroyed and for men to become captives18.

A description of the kingdom of heaven

The governments of God and Satan are both called kingdoms. In the case of God, his heavenly government is based upon the voluntary cooperation of his subjects, with himself as their King, their God, their Father, their Judge and their Lawgiver. He holds these titles and positions because his subjects choose him to hold them. He does nothing without the consent of the governed. There is no compulsion, whatsoever, only complete and utter freedom, all things being done by agency and voluntary cooperation. On a political scale, although it would rightly be called a kingdom, it resembles more tribal anarchy, with the tribal Chief being God himself and the tribal or customary law used in the anarchy being given by the tribal chief and voluntarily accepted by the tribal members.

Advancement in the kingdom of heaven is determined by the individual. As all members of the kingdom are given unfettered agency and the possibility and opportunity to possess more of it, or less of it, due to their own actions, each person can, of his own free will, choose to advance to the highest rung in the kingdom by acquiring and exercising great faith, by which they obtain great agency (power.) While others, exercising less faith, obtain less agency. None are constrained in any way to reach the top or stay at the bottom. All are created with an equal footing and all have an equal chance to obtain whatever measure of happiness and joy they so desire.

A description of the kingdom of the devil

Lucifer, in his rebellion, established a new order, setting himself up as king, with the one third who followed him giving up their agency to him, becoming slaves and servants to him, or as the scriptures say, angels to the devil. They are forced to do his will and he is in complete control of his kingdom. This concept is important to understand, as there is a common misconception that the angels to the devil have agency. They don’t. Many have heard of, and perhaps even read, The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, which is a fictional account about a senior demon advising his nephew demon on how to tempt a Christian. Although it is a fine piece of literature, it is, nonetheless, entirely fictional. The kingdom of the devil belongs solely to the devil, not to any of his angels. They do not decide what they do, how they do it, where they go, etc. All the reigns of control are in the hands of the devil (Lucifer) and he directs his mindless, soulless minions, compelling them to do his will in all things.

Divisions are non-existent, for different reasons

Neither the kingdom of God, nor the kingdom of the devil, is divided. Both kingdoms have kings, both kingdoms have laws, both kingdoms have order, but the difference is that those in God’s kingdom follow him willingly, based on agency and common consent, whereas those in the devil’s kingdom are his captives and slaves and servants and are compelled to do his will. The spirits that followed the devil are called devils themselves, but they are never equated with him, as they are merely angels to a devil. Thus, Satan is the only ruler of his kingdom, not sharing the rule with anyone else. On the other hand, God is willing to bring us all up to his level, so that we become joint heirs with Christ. The one is generous and sharing, the other is stingy and selfish.

In the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, with Frank Sinatra, U.S. servicemen were kidnapped and programmed (brainwashed) by the Chinese government, to be later used in a plot to control the United States. The mind-control consisted of hypnosis and was triggered with certain images and code-words, after which the mindless robot of a man would do his master’s bidding without hesitation, no matter what it was. The 2004 remake of the film, with Denzel Washington, had essentially the same plot, although brain and body chip implants (such as the VeriChip) were added to bring it up to technological speed. The recent Jason Bourne films followed the same pattern, except that it was our government creating the mindless assassin. Jason Bourne, in the last film, The Bourne Ultimatum, finds out that he made a choice to give up his agency and to do the bidding of the government, no matter what it was, so that he could more fully serve his country. Once that agency was given over, he became not much more than a programmed robot.

Although these films appear to be science fiction, this is in fact how Satan’s spiritual kingdom functions. All of his angels initially gave up their agency to Lucifer so that he became their master controller. Unlike human brainwashers, who control certain aspects of their victims or only at certain times, such as when the need to control them arises, Satan’s control and programming over his legions is continual and absolute. This is why all of the evil deeds mentioned in the scriptures are directly attributed to Satan only and not to his angels. As they have no agency and are compelled in all things to obey their master, all of their actions are what he would do in that very moment. They do nothing, say nothing, feel nothing and think nothing of their own free will. They are commanded in all things.

(In case there are any questions as to how Satan is able to remotely control these fallen spirits and his mortal servants, the Lord has explained through Amulek that the devil possesses a spirit19 which allows such action at a distance. This “spirit of the devil” is both similar and dissimilar to the Holy Spirit in certain ways. The Spirit of Christ, or Light of Christ, being spirit matter, fills the immensity of space20, governs all the kingdom of God, defines the boundaries of that kingdom and is light itself. The spirit of the devil likewise controls the kingdom of the devil, defines its boundaries and is composed of spirit matter, but it is darkness. Just as in science there is positive and negative (electricity), north and south polarity (magnetism), upspin and downspin (electrons), and glow/arc and dark modes (plasma discharge), so the spirit of the devil is the opposite of the Spirit of Christ.)

Zion and Babylon

The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the devil have their counterparts here on Earth. The kingdom of heaven on Earth is known as Zion. The kingdom of the devil on Earth is known as Babylon. When Zion exists on this planet, it exactly corresponds to the kingdom of heaven, whereas Babylon exists wherever Zion does not exist. Zion, then, is a copy of the heavenly kingdom, whereas Babylon does not have to be a replica of the kingdom of the devil. All it need be is the Zion model altered in some way so as to make it not quite Zion. Nevertheless, it is the goal of Satan to destroy agency, so any time Babylon exists, the tendency will be to make it a replica of the spiritual kingdom of the devil, complete with mind-controlled human drones.

The State, a tool of the devil

There are many tools Satan uses to destroy agency: temptation, sin, deception, drugs, technology, etc. But the main instrument used is the State. (By the term “State” I mean a compulsive government, one which uses violence, force, propaganda or threat of violence and force to control the actions, words or thoughts of its citizens.) Only with the inception of a State can Satan duplicate the spiritual kingdom he has set up and control every aspect of those who pertain to it.

Prisons follow the satanic blueprint

The kingdom of the devil is one, gigantic, spiritual prison. The angels to the devil do not possess free will, or freedom of choice (agency), but are compelled to obey the will of Satan in all things. They are prisoners and he is the warden. As all earthly States are inspired by the devil, inevitably, with the establishment of a new State, prisons will start popping up.

It is the doctrine of the devil to imprison everyone; however, he starts with what he can. At first, the prisons are for the law-breakers, meaning those people who violate the laws of the State. But eventually, as the State becomes more centralized and totalitarian, Satan starts inspiring those under his control to make the State resemble ever more closely the spiritual kingdom of the devil. Soon, the State itself is converted into a prison and its geographical boundaries become the walls keeping everyone in. It is the ultimate goal of the devil, though, not to have separate State prisons on this planet, but to merge all States into a single Super-State and convert this world into a prison planet. Nevertheless, way before that ever happens, the handiwork and inspiration of the devil can be seen in the building and use of prisons for law-breakers.

The gospel is “anti-prison”

It is noteworthy that Jesus came to “free the prisoners.” (See D&C 128: 22 and Isaiah 49: 9.) Most of us are conditioned (by State propaganda, which is inspired by the devil) that those who commit crimes should be imprisoned, but we have no evidence that the revealed laws of the Lord ever contained provisions for prisons. Under the Law of Moses, there was no prison system set up, nor is there any evidence of prisons under the full law of Christ (revealed during the Lord’s visit to the Nephites.) However, in virtually every instance of an earthly State, there are always found prisons. Always.

The State: a means to limit and destroy agency

Although Satan owns and controls every State21, none are identical to each other. Each one varies in the degree in which it controls the lives of its citizens. Those that control to a greater degree, are under a greater amount of influence of the devil, while those that control to a lesser degree, have less demonic influence, but all States, even minimalist ones, that exercise any degree of compulsion upon the children of men, immediately come under Satan’s influence22.

In two of the movies I mentioned above (the Frank Sinatra original of The Manchurian Candidate and the last Jason Bourne flick,) it is instructive that the State was responsible for all the mind-control techniques employed which destroyed the agency of the characters of the films. This is because the State is the most natural mechanism of mind control (agency destruction), as its only function is to limit the agency of those who fall under its jurisdiction. Let me say that again: the State’s only function is to limit the agency of those who fall under its jurisdiction. As it already limits agency, the tendency is to limit it even more and eventually to destroy it altogether through mind control, chip implantation, false State propaganda and other brainwashing techniques.

Any search on the Internet or in a good bookstore under brainwashing and mind-control will bring up a plethora of supposed eyewitnesses who testify that these techniques exist and that they are being employed by secretive organizations and governments right now. Whether these witnesses are credible or not is not the point. The point is that we can reliably bet on Satan pursuing technology and methods that allow him to totally control us, whether that be drugs, chemicals and other poisons in the water we drink, genetically-altered food supply, alterations in the medicines we routinely take, chip implants, false propaganda, violence techniques and scare tactics, electromagnetic manipulation, sound, light or other types of devices. We can be assured that if something can be used to limit or destroy agency, Satan is going to use it. His goal, after all, is to make Babylon exactly conform to his spiritual kingdom.

One of the reasons why the State is the preferential device used in the hands of the devil is that the resources of a State are vastly superior to any organization existing within its boundaries. As a State can gain jurisdiction into virtually every aspect of our lives, with the creation of new laws, it can amass money, raw materials, labor and technology very quickly, and perform horrendous things all under the guise of legitimacy.

Anarchy (Agency) is the Antidote

Typically the solution proposed to the problem of the wickedness of Satan, his spiritual kingdom and his earthly kingdoms (States) is restriction of agency. More laws are passed to restrain wickedness and force people to be good. This just plays into Satan’s hands, though, as it feeds or gives power to his main creature of agency destruction, the State.

The real solution is agency, more of it, not less. Unfettered agency nullifies Satan’s power to destroy, to deceive and to cause misery. Politically, only one system is representative of unfettered agency: anarchy.

Anarchy is decentralized power shared by all – Anarchy is based upon the spiritual kingdom of God, in which power (agency) is shared by everyone and not just found in the hands of one individual. It naturally prohibits the concentration of power into one or a few hands, thereby checking all attempts at tyranny.

Anarchy is voluntary – Anarchy is always voluntary. Those who want to participate, do, while those who do not want to participate are not forced to. Like the kingdom of heaven, all things are done according to the desires of the children of men.

Anarchy is ordered – In anarchy, there are private, traditional, customary, tribal or clannish laws that inevitably become established, that allow order to flourish.

Anarchy is mutually beneficial – In anarchy, all have a voice, all have an influence, all have a choice and there is no compulsion. Every decent trait flourishes while wicked ones tend to be naturally restrained. Voluntary cooperation, mutual benefit, compassion, kindness, politeness, common decency, and private, traditional and customary laws: these are the things that attend and make up ordered anarchy.

Anarchy is the political system of agency – As anarchy is based upon voluntary cooperation, freedom of choice and mutual benefit, with no compulsion to obey, anarchy and agency go hand in hand.

I return to the heading at the beginning of this article:

The heavenly principle of agency is fundamental to both the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ

As that statement is absolutely true, anything that destroys or limits agency is inspired by the devil, whereas anything that increases it is inspired by God. By using the fundamental principle of agency as a gauge to measure the political systems of the day, we can plainly see that anarchy is the only system that preserves agency in its entirety, all others destroying or limiting it to a greater or lesser degree. Anarchy, therefore, is the only political system that is fully compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

References

1. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 30-31)

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. (2 Nephi. 2: 16)

2. 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. (2 Nephi 2: 26)

3. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. (D&C 93: 30)

4. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 31)

5. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. (D&C 93: 30)

6. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 31)

7. Light and truth forsake that evil one. (D&C 93: 37)

8. And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil-for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels; and, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell. (D&C 29: 36-38 )

Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 31)

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4: 3-4)

9. The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; and the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. (Moses 7: 32-34)

10. The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; and the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. (Moses 7: 32-34)

11. And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil-for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels; and, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell. (D&C 29: 36-38 )

[God's power is his honor because all things honor him, or obey him, giving him deference, of their own agency. The great "secret" to God's power lies in that he accomplishes all things through agents who obey his will. As all things honor him, he has all power. Man's power likewise comes from the things which honor him, meaning obey him. Man's honor is obviously less than God's honor. Agency and honor are both descriptions of the same thing: power. Agency is power because it is the ability to act and it is only increased as the agents that surround an individual heed or obey him (cooperate), allowing further actions to occur. Honor is power in that it is what the agents do towards the one they are honoring, namely, heeding (cooperating with) his instructions. Thus, agency and honor both describe the same power, but from different perspectives.]

12. 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. (2 Nephi. 2: 26)

13. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4: 3-4)

14. See D&C 29: 35, 39; 58: 28; 104: 17; Moses 6: 56.

15. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4: 3-4)

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; and the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. (Moses 7: 32-34)

16. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; (Moses 4: 3)

17. I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. (Alma 29: 4)

18. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4: 3-4)

19. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth deal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Alma 34: 35)

20. Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space- (D&C 88: 12. See also D&C 88: 4-13.)

21. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (Luke 4: 5-6)

22. Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson-that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. (D&C 121: 34-38 )

[When the heavens withdraw themselves, Satan moves into the spiritual vacuum and begins to exercise control over the individual. This is why the man starts exercising compulsion, under Satan's power and influence, and starts kicking against the pricks, persecuting saints and fighting against God. It is important, also, to understand that the heavens withdraw themselves prior to a man exercising compulsion, not after. It is when a man merely undertakes to exercise compulsion, or starts the planning and process to go about doing it, that the heavens withdraw and the gates of hell enter the picture, as compulsion is jurisdiction of the devil. It is how the devil works and is the power he operates under. Agency (non-compulsion) is the power of God, whereas compulsion (non-agency) is the power of Satan. Keep this in mind to understand these scriptures.]

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27 Comments

  1. I have called in on this location on many an instance now but this post is the 1st one that I have ever commented on.

    Congratulations on such a first-rate critique and site. I have found it to be very helpful and educational – I only wish that there were more blogs online like this one.

    I never disappear from this blog without learning anything, from time to time I may feel a tiny bit saddened that I may not agree with a blog article or comeback that has been made. But hey! that is existence and if every one decided to agree on the same thing what a boring old world we would exist in.

    Please maintain your admirable work.

    Having said all of this, and if I’m kindly allowed to continue with my entries I will come again to post on your blog site soon

    Cheers, have a great day and thank you.

  2. I really appreciate this entry, and definitely see where you’re coming from. My main question with the approach of Anarchy as described here is the “path”. Anarchy is Voluntary and Ordered, so how do you deal with those who not only don’t volunteer to participate, but use their free agency to disrupt the order? Is it to “submit patiently”?

    Good Post!

  3. Hi, Mollymew here,
    Congratulations on a great post, even if the theology makes my eyes glaze over. I hope you can come up with a good reply to the last commentator. For myself, I don’t think the tradition you are coming from has a practical response, no matter how much I admire it. To me an “anarchy” HAS to include mechanisms of “punishment”, no matter how libertarian they may be, to increase the level of cooperation in society. But that is obviously from somebody who comes to anarchism from evolutionary biology rather than from a religion.
    But as to things that are closer to your heart- the theology. You have stumbled on the old ‘free will” versus deity definition. If humans indeed have “free will” then this contradicts the trdaitional view of a God who is BOTH omnipotent and especially omniescent. Free will is the contradiction of determinism which is implied in omniescence. Now, I will admit that, as a non-Mormon, I can see how you might escape from this problem via your “progression of souls” mechanism. You should, howver, be aware that, for more traditional Christians who are minimally aware of your theology, that THIS leaves you open to the charge of “pantheism”. Not that I personally think that this is such a bad thing, but I’d be interested in your reply to this as well. You must be aware of how close said idea is to that of various Asian religions.
    Mollymew
    http://mollymew.blogspot.com

  4. Thank you Suzanne, TheGlider and Mollymew for the visit, comments and kind remarks.

    Suzanne, you are welcome to comment on anything you see here, even if you don’t agree with a post.

  5. TheGlider, my understanding is that each anarchic society will develop private laws to deal with those who insist on trampling on other people’s rights. As anarchy is completely open in its possibilities, based upon what is generally agreed upon and the ingenuity and imagination of man to invent solutions to problems, I don’t see one specific, cookie-cutter way to address trouble-makers. Anarchists may choose to imitate the way of Somalia, or the Spanish anarchists, or the American anarchists, or even how the so-called “lawless” wild, wild American west was ordered. They may choose to use Stefan Molyneux’s DRO’s. (See also Molyneux’s archive at LewRockwell.com.) It really doesn’t come down to what I think should happen, as I am one voice in many and it is the voice of the people that would “settle into” the natural anarchic order that would address every aspect of human interaction, as well as the interaction of humans with their environment. That natural anarchic order might vary according to the location on the planet, as climate and other environmental concerns would influence decision-making, and according to the ethnicity, language and religion of the anarchists, as well as many other factors, including the presence of statists within and/or surrounding the anarchist group. As anarchy is dynamic, it adjusts itself to the circumstances it finds itself in, and does so quickly and quite nicely. As pertaining to LDS, though, we already have a body of anarchic law (the scriptures), which give us insight in how saints should operate. We have the law of the church (D&C 42) which deals with transgression in the church as well as the law of consecration. We have (the very anarchic) D&C 98 which gives laws concerning non-members who infringe on the rights of the saints or even entire nations who do the same. And we have the high council, which would work just as well (I’d say better) in anarchy as in statism.

    When we look at the scriptures that spoke of the times when the law of Christ was functioning, and observe how crime was dealt with, we see no capital punishment or prisons. For example, Cain who slew Abel was not imprisoned nor executed. In fact, it appears that he was given a mark specifically so that no one would punish him and then was either banished or banished himself (freely.) For our time, that sounds pretty weird for a murderer to be treated in such a way. The point is, though, that for LDS professing to be disciples of Christ, it is important to recognize that there are options other than imprisonment and death in dealing with violent or other types of crimes and infringement of rights, including forgiveness and reconciliation, without exacting a penalty.

    Another thing that needs to be understood is that people already live in a measure of anarchy. All private interactions between individuals, voluntary associations and dealings without regard to what the State says or doesn’t say, are anarchy at work. Friendships, associations, even family relations often are anarchic. Compromise, politeness, civility, etc., is the nature of the game (especially in marriage.) When you take away the State’s influence entirely, you merely expand those private “laws” (or rules of etiquette by which we deal with one another without killing each other or stepping too much on people’s toes) to include the general public. The world suddenly becomes a much more dangerous place, while at the same time becoming a much safer place, as it is counterproductive to be “disruptive,” because there is no State to arrest you and lock you safely away from the people you have disrupted.

  6. Mollymew, I like how your mind works. You are actually jumping my gun, getting into topics that I hope to address in depth (as in this is deep doctrine) at a later time (specifically, when I have the time.) Still, your comment deserves a response, if only summarized, if such a thing is possible…

    I must admit, I do not see determinism implied in the omniscience of God. My understanding is that God sees all things, past, present and future, both things that happened (past), happen (present) and will happen (future), as well as things that could have happened (past), could happen (present), and might happen (future), as well as things that never could have happened (past), never could happen (present) and never will happen (future.) God sees it all. Therefore, it is correct to say that God knows what you will do, as he sees all the infinite future possibilities of you and every other bit of matter and spirit in this created universe, as well as all the impossibilities. The possibilities, impossibilities, probabilities and improbabilities are all known and calculated by the mind of God to infinity for each infinite bit of matter and spirit. As He sees all of it together, all the various movements of these created things, meaning He’s got the BIG PICTURE, He can exercise faith and make a prediction (prophecy) as to certain future occurrences in which He has absolute confidence or belief that will happen as He has said. He doesn’t cause (force) these things to happen, as He operates solely on free agency and through the medium of free agents, but as He sees everything (and thus knows everything), there is nothing left to chance and He can influence His servants (who voluntarily obey His words, as they are free agents) to modify the future in ways that benefit His children and tip the scales in favor of them being saved and gaining even greater free agency.

    This topic has a lot to do with the faith of God, which I’m attempting to address (nine articles so far and climbing.) I’ll just state here that the doctrine of predestination is actually of the devil, meaning that the devil’s angels live predestined lives, not being able to change their course, having no free will. Both predestination (determinism) and free will are active principles, but for mortal men born on this planet, free will (free agency) is what we are given by God, while the one-third that went with Lucifer live determinism, Lucifer being the one who makes that determination. God never forcefully determines anyone’s future; He leaves it open for us to decide.

  7. Thanks for your in depth response. I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but you gave me a lot of stuff to go through. I appreciate the resources, which of course just expand as you start to review them (the joys of the internet).

  8. Okay, there was a link to this from a post I just finished commenting (again) on. So here I am. Now I have a question. Is it really possible to lose agency? I don’t have an absolute answer for this. LDSA’s assertions of those who fell being slaves to the devil accords with 2 Nephi 9 describing them as “angels to the devil.” However scriptures are given “line upon line,” so 2 Nephi 9 wouldn’t necessarily be the last word, even if it had said “slaves to the devil.” It does not say this. Jacob is merely describing a condition, one we would all be in were it not for the atonement. He uses the word “captive,” but being captive does not entail a total loss of agency. The book of Moses tells us that Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man.” It never says he succeeded, or that he could succeed, though he can create the illusion of it.

    I now mention the teaching of Joseph Smith that intelligence is eternal, meaning it has no beginning and no end. His argument was that if intelligence had a beginning, it must have an end, and therefore would not be eternal. But intelligence has no beginning or end, and therefore is eternal. I would put forth that if agency were to have an end, it must have had a beginning, and therefore would not be an eternal principle. I believe agency is an eternal principle, however, and therefore has no beginning and no end. Certain choices lead to certain conditions that might determine what options we can use our agency to do, but this is true no matter where we are. Satan did not get what he wanted, and he can’t have it, which is what makes him miserable. His plan was a lie and never could have truly been carried out.

    This addresses a certain spiritual aspect of this post, but it does not contradict the political assertions. In fact, anarchy (here meaning no coercive government) is the true state of things, and anything else is just an illusion. Believing Satan’s lies just inhibits our own progress.

    That said, I do participate in democracy because I do believe that “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others.” That doesn’t mean it’s my ultimate aim, though.

  9. Joseph, you asked the question, “Is it really possible to lose agency?” I’m pretty sure you already know my answer to that question, but you might not know my full reasoning. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to read The faith of God, part ten: The relationship of faith to agency (power). I think that blog post will adequately explain why I’d answer “yes” to your question. Hopefully the post will stand on its own without you having to read the previous 9 articles in the series…

  10. As soon as I made the comment about losing agency (and before you responded), I realized that while agency is eternal, our access to is not. Thus we find ourselves in this life many times with limited choices. I ended up leaving the comment as is just to see what would result.

    I did appreciate the further reading through your link.

    Probably the point I took the most issue with was the idea that Satan got what he wanted. He didn’t want to be the god of this world, he wanted to be the real thing. Of course, seeking to destroy the agency of others made it impossible to achieve that. Also, his plan of “saving” all of us would never have worked, because salvation requires that our agency be intact. So, Satan never can have what he wanted, which is, as I understand it, a major source of his misery. Exactly what the status of those who followed Satan is I’m not sure of, if they have lost all of their agency, or if they, like Satan, are simply in a state where they can’t ever have what they wanted because it violates eternal laws. I’m curious as to why Jacob in 2 Nephi 9 refers to “angels to a devil” but doesn’t specify. Another interesting thing is that Satan is likely ruled by Cain, because that’s what was predicted would happen in the Book of Moses (5:23, which brings up another group of questions such as why was it Satan’s desire that Cain rule over him, among other things). And what of the female spirits who followed Satan (or were any of them leading)? Anyway, I’m getting off track. I guess the point is agency is an essential part of salvation, but not necessarily an important goal for earthly governments, which can sometimes impede our progress.

  11. Joseph, you are probably getting tired of me referring you to other blog posts…but here’s another one anyway: Deep Waters: What would have happened in Lucifer had won the vote?. I think that post will explain why I do not agree with your statements, “Of course, seeking to destroy the agency of others made it impossible to achieve that. Also, his plan of ‘saving’ all of us would never have worked, because salvation requires that our agency be intact.” Etc. My understanding is that Satan is seeking to destroy agency exactly because he is trying to be god, the one and only god, in other words, his plan is to change the eternal laws. Read the post and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

    I never heard it voiced that Satan desired that Cain rule over him. That is an interesting way of reading the text. Is this your own original thought or have you heard this from other LDS?

  12. I’m never tired of getting to explore different ideas. I think we will probably have to agree to disagree on this one. I’m probably more in agreement with Jgtrs’ comment. But I enjoyed exploring the ideas, anyway. I’m just not really of the opinion that eternal laws can be changed by common consent. Harold Bloom apparently once asked “Is there a God beyond God?” I’m of the opinion that the answer may be yes, and this is the Monad spoken of in the Nag Hammadi scriptures. This relates because the Monad involves laws that the Being we call God (and the other Gods and Goddesses) can never violate, and Satan could not have violated them either.

    This could go much deeper than I’m willing to deal with on a Friday, so I’ll just emphasize where we do seem to be in agreement, which is probably the point that is more important for this particular existence anyway: agency and coercion are two opposing principles. God uses agency, and that is what we must use if we are ever to become like Him. Satan is after coercion, which would destroy Heavenly Father’s plan. I think our agreement on that point is probably more important than what we might disagree on.

  13. Oh, and your question about Cain. It’s actually my own reading, and I could be wrong (it happens every once in awhile).

    “…and Satan bdesireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will cdeliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt drule over him”

    Just what is being referred to in “and it shall be unto thee according to his desire” is ambiguous enough that I thought maybe the “rule over him” might be part of that, but that could certainly be debated. Who would end up ruling who I think is not so much of for debate, however. Perhaps because Cain has a body, or Cain has more agency due to the fact that he kept his first estate and Satan didn’t? I must admit I don’t know. So much to learn with so little time available!

  14. Can’t seem to leave this one alone. Hopefully just one more thought on my part. On further reflection I am not entirely in agreement with Jgtrs. I do not believe that the plan could have moved forward with only 49% of our group of spirits. While I do not agree that a vote could have dismantled the laws of the eternities, the Law of Common Consent is important, as LDSA has pointed out. If 52% had gone with Satan, I believe it would have halted progress until a majority agreed to Heavenly Father’s Plan.

  15. Here’s a string of question (a year and half after the last comment):

    What if Satan had ACCEPTED Christ? What if one-third do not follow him? Is the plan destroyed because it’s no longer a test? Who tempted Lucifer? Is there some opposite to the Light of Christ floating around tempting pre-mortal spirits? Why would the idea that opposition existed influence Lucifer enough to try and take the glory of God? Where did this idea come from?

    Just curious. If you’ve already talked about this, please refer to the post.

  16. Chris, here is my understanding:

    If Satan had accepted Christ and the one-third had not followed him, the plan of salvation would not have been destroyed. It is not necessary that we be tempted by the devil in order for mortality to be a test. The laws of God alone are sufficient:

    Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (2 Nephi 2: 16)

    Notice that Lehi taught that in order for us to act (make a choice) we needed to be enticed by the one OR the other, not the one AND the other. This is why the Millennium works, even though Satan will be bound and no one will be tempted to do evil for a thousand years.

    The following scripture is ambiguous:

    Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4: 3-4)

    The phrase “because that Satan rebelled against me” can mean “because Satan rebelled against me”, but it can also mean “because that (meaning that particular) Satan rebelled against me”. I am of the opinion that it means both. So, if the Lord was talking of a particular Satan, this means that there is at least one other Satan that pre-dates the Satan we are currently dealing with (Lucifer). A possible scenario, then, is that our brother Lucifer learned his art from the other Satan, perhaps taking a visit to Outer Darkness one too many times, in the which he became convinced that he could succeed where the other Satan had failed. Thus, Lucifer “became Satan”, as the scripture states, taking the title, duties, powers (and office?) of his predecessor. If there is more than one Satan, their end would always be Outer Darkness, so in my mind, these Satans would not be tempting pre-mortal spirits who reside within the sphere of light (the created Universe). In order to be tempted by these devils, one would actually have to travel to Outer Darkness and have a talk with them, which is what I assume Lucifer did. He is, after all, all about the acquisition of knowledge (and not faith), so he may have gone there in search of the hidden, occult knowledge (possessed by the devils), despite counsel to remain in the comparative (spiritual) safety of the created Universe.

    Lastly, the spirit of the devil is the “opposite to the Light of Christ floating around tempting” mortal mankind, but we are not told its pre-mortal beginnings nor its post-mortal end. The only thing I can do is speculate. I would say that this spirit did not have its beginnings with the devils residing in Outer Darkness. In other words, I don’t believe that Lucifer brought “a spirit of the devils” back with him into the created Universe. My reasoning is that devils (and devilish things) can’t get back in. So, I presume that Lucifer came back to the sphere of light and his spirit (not his spirit body, but “the spirit of the devil” we are talking about) was created for him by God when he became the devil and obtained devilish angels. For, to fulfill his role as Satan, he required a spirit directly opposite to the Light of Christ. And, I suppose that it will go where Satan goes, so as Outer Darkness will be the end of Lucifer and his angels, so the spirit of the devil will be cast out, too.

    Chris, I haven’t blogged about this before, so thank you for bringing up these questions.

  17. This reminded me of an article I read a while back by someone, which I re-read tonight, on the idea of illusions as it’s related to the endowment ceremony and, specifically, Satan / Lucifer. I thought some here might want to read it. It can be found here, or here.

  18. Tom,

    I came accross that article a year or so back while doing some reading on my own. I find it to be true in its reasoning — and I’ve since gone back to the Temple with that POV in mind and found it to fit in many ways.

    In fact, a year ago today I met with a member of my Temple’s presidency after an endowment session to ask him some questions. Some of my questions were related to this article. I’m probably preaching to the choir — but I was saddened when he provided no answer to any of the 5 or so questions I asked about the ceremony. All his answers were either, “We don’t know that yet,” or “That question has no answer,” or “You know, I’ve never thought of that.” At one point, he even made a joking reference to the clothing worn during the ceremony, saying, “Who knows what any of that stuff is for.

  19. LDSA, you opined that satan’s minions do nothing but only what their master orders.
    In Mark 1 there is a story of Jesus in a sinagogue teaching and a man possessed with unclean spirits crying out:
    v.24
    24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

    It seems to me that if satan was the author of these words that he only bolstered the position of Jesus in the eyes of those present.
    What do you think was the motivation of satan in putting those words into unclean spirits’ mouths?

  20. XLtribes, the devil is the father of lies. If the people witness the devil testifying that Jesus is the Messiah, would that not cause people to doubt His own testimony to the same?

  21. Later in Mark:

    and the scribes
    who came down from Jerusalem said
    he hath beelzebub
    and
    by the prince of the devils
    casteth he out devils

    It led the Judean religious authorities to suppose that the demons recognize him because they are secretly in league with him.

  22. LDSA — it seems we double-posted.

  23. I find this idea fascinating:

    the devil is the father of lies. If the people witness the devil testifying that Jesus is the Messiah, would that not cause people to doubt His own testimony to the same?

    …so a true statement,

    i know thee
    who thou art
    the holy one of god

    can be a lie.

    A liar can actually discredit the truth by being the one who says it.

    Maybe Paul’s rule-of-thumb for discerning the spirits of operation is not all that sound then?

    no one can say that
    Jesus is the lord
    but by the holy ghost
    [1 Corinthians 12:3]

  24. I don’t know where I read it, but I remember reading years ago that Paul was saying that “no one can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost” because at the time there were repercussions to claiming to be a follower of Christ, such as persecution, bodily harm, imprisonment, death, etc., so only those who had this spiritual witness would actually risk bearing testimony of Christ. It may have been false information that I read, but it has stayed in my head all these years…

  25. That may be right. In that Roman era — saying that “Jesus is Lord” was in direct opposition to the claim of the empire, which was “Caesar is Lord”.

    Jesus wasn’t just the “Lord” of my personal life — but politically-speaking all things are the same. At that time, saying he was Lord was at the same time saying that Caesar was not.

  26. king benjamin was decidedly “anti-prison” too

    Mosiah 2:13 Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you—

  27. LDS Anarchist,

    I am also a believer in anarchy/voluntaryism and feel that position is closely in alignment with the teachings and example of Christ. Force is only moral in self-defense and since the state is based on the initiation of force it is completely at odds with the way Christ taught.

    One point is that the scriptures don’t say 33% or 1/3 of the spirits followed Satan it just says “third part,” which could mean even as few as 1% could be a “third part”. The popular perception of 33% isn’t doctrinal.


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