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Free Will, Agency and Choice


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#1 Traveler

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 07:31 AM

For some time as I have read and posted questions – I am not sure that I agree with many expressions concerning the definitions of free will, agency and choice. I see the three as related but not at all the same. For example, of the three I believe that only “Agency” is a gift from G-d. Free will I believe is related to freedom and must be earned or should I say “acquired” and “developed”. Finally I see choice as a process and not really an event as many seem to imply. For example, one cannot choose to make a cake or read the scriptures while watching television. In order to choose the make a cake one must go to the kitchen, start assembling the needed ingredients continuing the “recipe” through to the conclusion. The second element that seems often to be overlooked in the process of choice is quite obvious from the example of cake making. That is that the choice to make a cake cannot be made if one does not have access to the ingredients necessary and the means to complete the task. I am quite convinced that we do not have the choices, in this mortal life that many seem to imply. There are other thoughts that I have but I would like to open this discussion with input from the forum. Especially concerning your “life” experiences – not just what you thought you learned is Sunday School. Wow, that last statement kind of showed a prejudice I have – Hopefully I will avoid my overzealous criminating nature and offend someone that I would accuse of “lazy” thinking but rather just let others speak their mind and all of us – perhaps learn something. The Traveler

#2 Pamela818

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:17 AM

For some time as I have read and posted questions – I am not sure that I agree with many expressions concerning the definitions of free will, agency and choice. I see the three as related but not at all the same. For example, of the three I believe that only “Agency” is a gift from G-d. Free will I believe is related to freedom and must be earned or should I say “acquired” and “developed”.
The Traveler



I don't know in what way 'agency' is meant in LDS/spiritual context, so will bypass that.

However, from experience, I found that I had no true understanding of 'free will' until I discovered the Holy Spirit within, beyond doubt.

Prior to that time, I was either leaning on my own understanding (outside learning/experience) or following Ego/soul (where I got a lot of that experience in discovering Ego can lead to some pretty awful dead ends/consequences). It only *felt* as if I was excersizing 'true' choice. Turned out that both of us are ignorant - just one moreso than the other. One has little the hidden flicker that must be called forth and fanned; the other no Light.

For example, ego would cry for revenge of some wrong. I also would have like that but had learned the negative side of pursuing such a course - it often doubles back. So, the motivation for being 'good' was not from a spiritual understanding - although I felt 'righteous' in 'taking the high road' upon choosing it. <g>

One of the more emphatic revelations: I was not 'good' because I was innately 'good' - I did good things so others would say I was good, so that I could then believe it myself. I did good things to cover the evil lurking within me that I couldn't see/face.

"Man cannot serve two masters." Switching back and forth from Ego being master and me being pseudo-master - made for a dance that only felt like living.

It was an incredible experience to find that *I* never was 'in control' - the grand illusion. When I discovered the Holy Spirit, I suddenly realized that I now had two *Real* choices - to follow Ego or follow H.S. My life changed dramatically, and is still changing. The monotony and futility of life no longer plagues me - there is a Point.

That's the nutshell, to date.

Pamela

P.S. I don't have enough posts to do an Intro post, so will give a quick one here for context.

I left the Catholic Church when I was 16 (tho completed 12 yrs parochial schooling). I left over the illogical concept of Confession as well as the contradiction between singing "God is Love" and hearing about the God who hated his creation and was angry all the time. (The stuff of many atheists and agnostics.) Today, I know better.

I then joined the US military. I met some missionaries and was baptised into the LDS faith. That lasted until I was reassigned and for a short time thereafter. Then fell away - quite a distance. Time passed. I married for the first time at 36. Before the marriage ended four years later, I'd become a regular drinker. After the marriage, complete alcoholism.

At 44, I found AA and sobriety. And then found the Spiritual Path of AA - and a New Life. That was 13 yrs ago. It was on the prompting of H.S. that I was led back to LDS through this forum. I'd actually forgotton that I'd once been a member. Confused, but willing, I suited up and showed up to see what Spirit wants me to find here. It is quite a balm to hear Holy Spirit spoken so freely. Tis not that way in 'straight' AA.

Following Spirit is like the greatest Easter Egg Hunt ever. <bg> Life is definitely not boring - unless I turn off awareness, which I strive not to do.

Best to All,

Pamela

#3 prisonchaplain

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:51 AM

The nomenclature here can be very difficult. "Free will" has a specific meaning that comes out of the Calvinist/Armenian disagreement. Calvin said that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. God is sovereign, and to suggest that we have the moral strength to choose for ourselves is to deny God's rightful authority. Armenians counter that God granted us free will, and we can accept or reject his grace. I've come to understand that the LDS doctrine of Agency has more to it than that theological dispute. Joseph Smith seems to have clearly came down on the side of the Armenians though.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#4 Desertknight

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:49 AM

I left the Catholic Church when I was 16 (tho completed 12 yrs parochial schooling). I left over the illogical concept of Confession as well as the contradiction between singing "God is Love" and hearing about the God who hated his creation and was angry all the time. (The stuff of many atheists and agnostics.) Today, I know better.

I'm very glad you have found sobriety and some spiritual peace, but very sorry to read this. All I can say is that you were very, very, poorly taught in that schooling as there is absolutely "0" in Catholic theology that states that God, hates His creation. That is deeply saddening and something I have not encountered in the slightest, in over thirty years as a practising Catholic. I mean, can one imagine the Franciscans "hating creation"? This was not really your fault, as you were just 16. The Church actually teaches...

"Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "And God saw that it was good. . . very good" for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world." -Catechism of the Catholic Church.

...and as for confession...

"Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21-23.

Edited by Desertknight, 01 June 2012 - 12:56 PM.


#5 Desertknight

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:51 AM

The nomenclature here can be very difficult. "Free will" has a specific meaning that comes out of the Calvinist/Armenian disagreement. Calvin said that God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. God is sovereign, and to suggest that we have the moral strength to choose for ourselves is to deny God's rightful authority. Armenians counter that God granted us free will, and we can accept or reject his grace.

I've come to understand that the LDS doctrine of Agency has more to it than that theological dispute. Joseph Smith seems to have clearly came down on the side of the Armenians though.

Palagius vs. St. Augustine. Most Protestants and many Catholics seem to forget....St. Augustine won that argument in the Church. ;)

#6 Seminarysnoozer

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:59 PM

Agency is a privilege. But just like any privilege comes responsibility and accountability and the potential for abusing the privilege. Without accountability "agency" may just be free will. Like a child before the age of 8 can have free will but the agency comes after holding some amount of responsibility and accountability for the choice. There comes certain consequences that the person may be personally responsible for when given the "gift"of agency. With that responsibility comes the opportunity for advancement and progress. If we were never responsible for our choices then we could not gain any kind of "credit" or at least recognition for them either. ... its like playing a game of "battleship" with yourself versus an opponent. In the first way there is no real gain or loss, in the second there is potential for gain or loss. The potential for loss is what Lucifer threw a fit about but we all understood the power of the potential gain and see this agency as a gift and opportunity for growth. We, therefore, are willing to take on the responsibility of agency.

#7 prisonchaplain

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:07 PM

Palagius vs. St. Augustine. Most Protestants and many Catholics seem to forget....St. Augustine won that argument in the Church. ;)


I, for one, am thankful for the Catholic trunk of theology from which pentecostalism branched. :)

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton


#8 Pamela818

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 03:24 PM

I'm very glad you have found sobriety and some spiritual peace, but very sorry to read this. All I can say is that you were very, very, poorly taught in that schooling as there is absolutely "0" in Catholic theology that states that God, hates His creation. That is deeply saddening and something I have not encountered in the slightest, in over thirty years as a practising Catholic. I mean, can one imagine the Franciscans "hating creation"? This was not really your fault, as you were just 16. The Church actually teaches...

"Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "And God saw that it was good. . . very good" for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world." -Catechism of the Catholic Church.

...and as for confession...

"Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21-23.




1. As for Creation, the 1st one works for me. The 2nd is where the rub/evil/miscreation came in, for me.

2. Catholic teachings: Nah, they taught what they still teach - what many religions teach. That God gets angry, is disappointed, saddened, punishing, vindictive ... the God of the Old Testament (not saying the True One doesn't make appearances). Hateful, insecure, confused, out of control, jealous, contentious - pits his 'other half' against man in fun (Job).... A God who's innerds are in humans. A God we are to fear and prostrate before. I said, "No, thanks. If I have to fear a God who *says* they love me, I'll pass. I can get that at home." A 'human' God didn't make the cut.

Then we have Christ who teaches Love, and only Love. That the Kingdom is Within - all we need to find the Way Out of the chaos, is within us. The evil (miscreated entity), the questioner, and the Guide. Have Guide, will travel.

For me, there was no marrying those two entities. Can't have it both ways. Hate one and love the other, or love one and hate the other - but not both. And I didn't know how to love the way Christ did - copying behavior isn't the same as having a pure inside and the behavior emanates from that. It's inside-out, not the other way 'round. And learning to have compassion for the evil/blind one within me has been an adventure. Grace helps me, I help the 'lost sheep' by showing him the way to the alter of Grace. At least that's the framework I'm currently using.

And, to be honest, I was also, reluctantly, disappointed with Christ back then. To tell us the Holy Spirit was within - but failed to tell us how to Know, for ourselves - how to get to It. What was the point of dangling the carrot He knew we couldn't reach? I searched for a very long time - then gave up. Alcoholism stopped the questions, but brought a new hell.

Imagine my dumbfounding surprise when in AA, I read:

"...We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." And many more 'clues' couched in terms of God that actually point to Within. I was back on the hunt. <s>

3. Confession. Church told me to pray to God often about everything. That only God knew whether I was truly sorry for something. Then they tell me I have to confess my sins to a priest - who knows nothing about whether I'm sorry or not. And, worst of all, says, "By the power invested in me by God/The Church, *I* absolve you of your sins."

Well, nothing about it said 'logical', to me. And by 16, I'd already figured out that the priest was a man and not the 'holier than thou' person I was led to believe he was. It was a conundrum when I got to AA and saw the 5th Step. "What's Confession doing in AA?!" I tried and tried to figure out where my logic was in error. Couldn't find a flaw.

The 5th Step was out of the question. Fortunately, I had enough stuff for the 4th Step to keep me busy for at least fifty years (new items kept appearing), so I trudged on. And since the 'uncanny synchronicities' kept happening, I didn't worry.

In the Bible, it says, "Confess to one another." That's AA, and is far different from transferring the Power of Forgiveness to another person rather than discovering for oneself that the Power/Grace is Within.

Takes awareness to 'notice', but those 'mind tools' that I used for 4 yrs prior to doing the 5th Step were the key.

Another revelation was to understand the following:

It is impossible to 'get good enough' to deserve/be worthy to receive the Holy Spirit.
One cannot become Truly Good - without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was with me while I was living with grievous sin -

Gotta go - tornado warning for this county. Probably 'nuff said anyway. <g>

Best to All,

Pamela

Don't *believe* anything I say. Desire to Know, for yourself, if anything I say is true.

"You can only find Truth with logic if you've already found Truth without it." GK Chesterton

#9 Desertknight

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 04:37 PM

2. Catholic teachings: Nah, they taught what they still teach - what many religions teach. That God gets angry, is disappointed, saddened, punishing, vindictive ... the God of the Old Testament (not saying the True One doesn't make appearances). Hateful, insecure, confused, out of control, jealous, contentious - pits his 'other half' against man in fun (Job).... A God who's innerds are in humans. A God we are to fear and prostrate before. I said, "No, thanks. If I have to fear a God who *says* they love me, I'll pass. I can get that at home." A 'human' God didn't make the cut.

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New. I think you are mischaracterising God's nature however, and erring in your personal interpretation of OT scripture. God is vengeful against evil, because He is just. Above all however, God is Love. It is the heart and core of my faith.

Then we have Christ who teaches Love, and only Love. That the Kingdom is Within - all we need to find the Way Out of the chaos, is within us. The evil (miscreated entity), the questioner, and the Guide. Have Guide, will travel.

For me, there was no marrying those two entities. Can't have it both ways. Hate one and love the other, or love one and hate the other - but not both.

But your problem then was not just a "Catholic" problem, but a Christian one. We cannot reject the God of the Old Covenant, because He is the God of the New as well. Christ did not come to destroy the Old Covenant, but fulfil it. God is love, even a God who destroys evil. Indeed, He is because He destroys evil.

And, to be honest, I was also, reluctantly, disappointed with Christ back then. To tell us the Holy Spirit was within - but failed to tell us how to Know, for ourselves - how to get to It. What was the point of dangling the carrot He knew we couldn't reach? I searched for a very long time - then gave up. Alcoholism stopped the questions, but brought a new hell.

Imagine my dumbfounding surprise when in AA, I read:

"...We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." And many more 'clues' couched in terms of God that actually point to Within. I was back on the hunt. <s>

I would never tell anyone to give up on AA if that is helping you to stay sober and lead a better life, but the only thing inside of us that gives us Grace is that Christ that is external. We can never find salvation within ourselves. We can only say "yes" to the Holy Spirit and be changed within. To be holy is a process of cooperating with that grace to internalise it, to partake of Christ's nature, but as I said, take what you can from AA that helps you in your sobriety. I'm not trying to convert, just clarify and answer, concerning some of the things you stated.

3. Confession. Church told me to pray to God often about everything. That only God knew whether I was truly sorry for something. Then they tell me I have to confess my sins to a priest - who knows nothing about whether I'm sorry or not. And, worst of all, says, "By the power invested in me by God/The Church, *I* absolve you of your sins."

Well, nothing about it said 'logical', to me. And by 16, I'd already figured out that the priest was a man and not the 'holier than thou' person I was led to believe he was. It was a conundrum when I got to AA and saw the 5th Step. "What's Confession doing in AA?!" I tried and tried to figure out where my logic was in error. Couldn't find a flaw.

I don't know who may have led you to believe that about priests being "holier than thou", but I've met no priests who believe that. Of course, you meet all kinds so I'm sure they are about, but priests, from the pope to my parish priest, are just men, nothing more, and sinners all, and hopefully on the same journey to holiness that you and I are. As far as the sacrament of penance, you of course know, you confess to God. The priest is there to help facilitate that and give absolution, but he is not there to judge whether you are truly sorry. He is there as Christ's physician, to help facilitate your healing...

"Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the presbyters of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him." John 5:14-15.

That is what the presbyters (priests) do in confession. That is what they do in the sacrament for the sick. That is their job, to facilitate God's healing.

If you are NOT truly contrite and honest in your confession, your confession is invalid, the priest's absolution is invalid. Just as if the priest wasn't there and you were lying only to God. You can't fool God, inside or outside of the the confessional. No priest has the power to absolve the unrepentant.

In the Bible, it says, "Confess to one another." That's AA, and is far different from transferring the Power of Forgiveness to another person rather than discovering for oneself that the Power/Grace is Within.

It isn't either/or. We should confess to one another, but the Bible also says that Christ's vicars were empowered by Him to forgive sin and that such would be binding in heaven as well as earth, (John 20:21-23.). We can't pick and choose from the Word of God. It's either true or it's nonsense.

It is impossible to 'get good enough' to deserve/be worthy to receive the Holy Spirit.
One cannot become Truly Good - without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was with me while I was living with grievous sin -

That is the whole point of God's ultimate act of Love. We need not be "good enough". We are not "good enough". And yet...

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."-John 3:16.

God does not expect us to be "good enough", but He does expect us to be faithful. All of us, are called to be saints, but God knows that this life, is just a foreshadowing of that heavenly perfection. We will not know it fully here.

Gotta go - tornado warning for this county. Probably 'nuff said anyway. <g>

Best to All,

Pamela

Don't *believe* anything I say. Desire to Know, for yourself, if anything I say is true.

"You can only find Truth with logic if you've already found Truth without it." GK Chesterton


I know from what you have written that you have been on a rocky journey in life and I am not trying to debate you, but only help with (hopefully), some truth and light. God's blessings be with you in this life and the next. Pax Christi, and I will pray for you.

Edited by Desertknight, 01 June 2012 - 04:48 PM.


#10 Pamela818

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:11 PM

The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New. I think you are mischaracterising God's nature however, and erring in your personal interpretation of OT scripture. God is vengeful against evil, because He is just. Above all however, God is Love. It is the heart and core of my faith.

But your problem then was not just a "Catholic" problem, but a Christian one. We cannot reject the God of the Old Covenant, because He is the God of the New as well. Christ did not come to destroy the Old Covenant, but fulfil it. God is love, even a God who destroys evil. Indeed, He is because He destroys evil.


Well, it may depend on what one thinks ‘fulfill’ means. For me, it means he came to correct /redeem us from the deficiency of a (male) God’s Law. It appears there may be two Gods operating in the OT (rather than one with a split personality). For one instance among many, one God loves the smell of burning animals; the other is disgusted by the smell of same. Possibility of a male and female God operating. Don't know for sure. (And I don't exclude quiet interventions by Christ or the True God in some places, as well.)

I use Greek Mythology as a *framework* - Zeus and Hera, Prometheus, Ixion, etc. There are a lot of intentional (or otherwise) ‘misdirections’ – so, without Spirit, I would never be able to discern the useful from the useless. Also, the Nag Hammadi texts are intriguing.

For me, the True God is Love. (period) The Judging God (Prince of Lies/Devil) judges the ones who die still on His side of the fence. Christ’s ministry removed the temporary necessity of the Old Law - it was but a step towards a Greater Goal/Purpose (but with a caveat). Christ isn't the author of the 10 Commandments - and they are superceded by the 2 of the NT. However, if I'm not joined to the NT by the Holy Spirit/Christ, I'm still under the Old Covenant upon death.

2Cor3:9 - For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.

2Cor3:14 – But their mental powers were dulled. For to this present day the same veil remains unlifted at the reading of the old covenant, because it is done away with by means of Christ.

In fact, down till today whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts. But when there is a turning to Christ, the veil is taken away. Now Christ is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of Christ is, there is freedom. … exactly as done by Christ the Spirit. (The Holy Spirit offers freedom from the Oppressor Gods, the deficient father and mother. “…unless you hate your mother and father… you cannot be my disciple.” And, John 8:44: "'Ye are of a father, the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do;

---Christ met a man laboring on the Sabbath - a sin deserving of death by stoning, according to the Mosaic law. Jesus said to the man: "Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, accursed art thou, and a transgressor of the Law."---

The man will be judged by the Law unless the Highest Principle (Holy Spirit) has interceded (Seek and ye shall Find), which would then release him from the consequences of the Law – reincarnation/fate). My understanding, thus far, that is.

Luke 14: 34 - “Salt is good, but if it loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (For me, the Holy Spirit is the ‘Salt Restorer’.)

------

That is what the presbyters (priests) do in confession. That is what they do in the sacrament for the sick. That is their job, to facilitate God's healing.

If you are NOT truly contrite and honest in your confession, your confession is invalid, the priest's absolution is invalid. Just as if the priest wasn't there and you were lying only to God. You can't fool God, inside or outside of the confessional. No priest has the power to absolve the unrepentant.



I understand that a priest (nor anyone else) cannot be held responsible for an insincere confession. My main objections to anywhere Proper Confessions are 'hijacked' are:

1. Forgiveness comes from Within by the Power of the Holy Spirit who resides there. The Church teaches that the priest is the Absolver. Now, I can see where in the time of Christ there had to be the usual start-up problems with 'a new procedure'. First, the apostles, then others added to accomodate the growing number of converts.

However, if it had been taught that upon a Good/rigorously honest confession that the person was now qualified to *hear* a confession ("Lord, make me an Instrument of Thy Peace"), then there may have been a few less folks dying in a sinful state because an apostle or someone 'specially trained in Absolution' was not available.

It's also possible that because Christ hadn't ascended yet, the apostles were granted authority by Christ - and when the Holy Spirit then arrived for *all* persons, the situation changed. But 'power' is a tuff thing to give up. What fun would it have been if everyone had been taught the "rules of engagement' for the Holy Spirit to become the personal Guide to thousands?

2. When I discovered the Holy Spirit upon completing the 5th Step of AA (with a woman), I was initially in shock and awe. Later, I realized that either the Catholic Church has lost knowledge of the Key for how we are to find the Holy Spirit within ourselves (a very sad thing, indeed; and doubtful) or ...

it is done intentionally to maintain power and control. Freely telling us the Holy Spirit exists - but never a peep about how to find It for ourselves - and then misdirecting the Truth of the matter. If this scenario is the case, it isn't difficult to find the applicable verse:

Gospel of Thomas #39: Jesus said, "The Pharisees and the scholars have taken the keys of knowledge and have hidden them. They have not entered nor have they allowed those who want to enter to do so...." The Gnostics certainly Knew.

Additionally, I wonder if even the priests are given the Key when in training. It's hard to imagine anyone having the Experience of the Holy Spirit and then choosing damnation. In which case, it is certainly fortunate that the sinner is the one who receives Forgiveness from Within upon conviction by the Holy Spirit, eh?

It was always a puzzle to me growing up why my mother would comment after going to Confession about how much better she felt. Never once did she suspect that the feeling that her Ego misdirected as "relief" was actually Forgiveness.

I was glad to find what you wrote in another thread. Says a lot:

What is true is the heart of the difference between Catholics and Protestants. The central core issue which the "Reformation" was based on was sola scriptura, i.e., that each individual is their own authority in what the Bible says, and therefore, what is truth. The Catholic Church says that the magisterium (teaching authority) authority of the Church is the only legitimate authority for Christians in matters of faith & morals.


All the Best,

Pamela


"Whenever I'm disturbed, the problem is within me. Always."

“For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he has a conceit that he already knows.” Epictetus

#11 Traveler

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 08:58 AM

Thank you Pamela818 - You are the only one that seems to have actual life experience to talk about. I respect such things much more that what what some people think they learned in a Sunday School Class but find unworthy to experience in real life. The Traveler

#12 Traveler

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 08:54 PM

My understanding:
Agency: The right to act for someone else. I do not see agency as a choice per say. G-d gives us the gift to act for him. If we do not accept this gift or abuse this gift then we, by default of the natural man become the agents of evil or the devil.

Free Will: I believe in this life free will is an illusion. In essence we do not know what we are doing or what we will or can become. Therefore I see free will as a talent or ability that must be developed through discipline. In this life we can work toward become free to express our will or end up in eternal bondage by refusing to discipline ourselves.

Choice: I also believe that the real choices that determine our destiny were made before we were born. I know that this sounds like predestination but I believe that we determined our destiny. I have used the analogy of time and space akin to a trip from Salt Lake City to LA. Our earthly existence is like the last inch and ½ of the trip. I do not care what means of transportation you envision - the point is - what are you really going to change to make a difference in the last inch and ½? Have a flat tire? What would that matter? Throw a rod? And that will change your arrival how? I believe we are just playing out the choices we have already figured out.

The Traveler

#13 Anddenex

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 09:26 AM

My understanding:
Agency: The right to act for someone else. I do not see agency as a choice per say. G-d gives us the gift to act for him. If we do not accept this gift or abuse this gift then we, by default of the natural man become the agents of evil or the devil.

Free Will: I believe in this life free will is an illusion. In essence we do not know what we are doing or what we will or can become. Therefore I see free will as a talent or ability that must be developed through discipline. In this life we can work toward become free to express our will or end up in eternal bondage by refusing to discipline ourselves.

Choice: I also believe that the real choices that determine our destiny were made before we were born. I know that this sounds like predestination but I believe that we determined our destiny. I have used the analogy of time and space akin to a trip from Salt Lake City to LA. Our earthly existence is like the last inch and ½ of the trip. I do not care what means of transportation you envision - the point is - what are you really going to change to make a difference in the last inch and ½? Have a flat tire? What would that matter? Throw a rod? And that will change your arrival how? I believe we are just playing out the choices we have already figured out.

The Traveler


Traveler:

I would be curious to hear more of why you say "Agency" is the right to act for God. I understand the gift part and would agree.

Agency, or our moral agency, is definitely a gift from God which allows us the opportunity, through knowledge, to distinguish between good and evil. Since we have a moral agency, we now have the ability to choose.

Without agency, we definitely would not have the ability to choose for ourself, whether we want to become like God or not.

I think "free will" and "agency" can be interchanged, however free will and "moral agency" I think are not interchangeable.

Agency is simply the ability to choose: good or evil. Free will, is also the ability to choose: good or evil.

Moral agency is the right, or gift, to use our agency toward that which is good, and maybe that is why you say "agency" is right to act for someone else. If we should choose to act against good, then we have a "moral" obligation, as intelligent beings, to repent, and thus line our actions with our moral agency, or line our actions that represent we are coming unto God.

#14 Seminarysnoozer

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 12:59 PM

My understanding:
Agency: The right to act for someone else. I do not see agency as a choice per say. G-d gives us the gift to act for him. If we do not accept this gift or abuse this gift then we, by default of the natural man become the agents of evil or the devil.

Free Will: I believe in this life free will is an illusion. In essence we do not know what we are doing or what we will or can become. Therefore I see free will as a talent or ability that must be developed through discipline. In this life we can work toward become free to express our will or end up in eternal bondage by refusing to discipline ourselves.

Choice: I also believe that the real choices that determine our destiny were made before we were born. I know that this sounds like predestination but I believe that we determined our destiny. I have used the analogy of time and space akin to a trip from Salt Lake City to LA. Our earthly existence is like the last inch and ½ of the trip. I do not care what means of transportation you envision - the point is - what are you really going to change to make a difference in the last inch and ½? Have a flat tire? What would that matter? Throw a rod? And that will change your arrival how? I believe we are just playing out the choices we have already figured out.

The Traveler


I think your description in incomplete without including some relationship between accountability, stewardship, responsibility and agency.

Otherwise you are going to have a hard time explaining how souls with Down syndrome and a variety of other conditions as well as not having a chance to hear about the gospel don't automatically "by default" become an "agent of evil". Agency requires some level of accountability and responsibility, otherwise it really isn't agency, it becomes just a cause and effect. And I hope you are not trying to come to that conclusion, that life is a cause and effect, playing out calculable outcomes based in pre-mortal variables.

Does a rat have agency when it is attracted to the cheese in the trap and he dies as a result? No, but it does have free will. It moves towards the cheese on its own.

If man, on the other hand, chooses to make choices that lead to the traps in this life and ultimately untimely death, that could very well be something they are responsible for and then it can be called agency.

#15 Misshalfway

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 01:26 PM

I think your description in incomplete without including some relationship between accountability, stewardship, responsibility and agency.


Great thought.

I think there is also something to be said for factoring in cultural constraints, as well.

#16 Traveler

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:11 PM

Perhaps we should have a thread on just the term agency. I am glad to see people thinking about this. If we look in the the legal definition of agency for our society we find:

The common law principle in operation is usually represented in the Latin phrase, qui facit per alium, facit per se, i.e. the one who acts through another, acts in his or her own interests and it is a parallel concept to vicarious liability and strict liability in which one person is held liable in criminal law or tort for the acts or omissions of another.


Agency is a gift that come to us in part because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is why he had to suffer because of our fallen state - it is the justice that must suffer for sins - that of course is just part. By agency in our mortal life - we act for G-d (Jesus) who becomes liable for our actions.

Unless we deny or do not accept Jesus as our "principle" at the "Judgement" -which I cannot think anyone so stupid - but you never know.

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#17 Seminarysnoozer

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 05:06 PM

Perhaps we should have a thread on just the term agency. I am glad to see people thinking about this. If we look in the the legal definition of agency for our society we find:



Agency is a gift that come to us in part because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is why he had to suffer because of our fallen state - it is the justice that must suffer for sins - that of course is just part. By agency in our mortal life - we act for G-d (Jesus) who becomes liable for our actions.

Unless we deny or do not accept Jesus as our "principle" at the "Judgement" -which I cannot think anyone so stupid - but you never know.

The Traveler


I see what you are doing now, you are trying to play off the word Agent. The power of the priesthood might work a little better for that description, but I suppose there is some aspect of agency that is doing the Lord's will and therefore acting in His name. In the eyes of God, Jesus becomes liable for our actions but we are still responsible to Jesus for our actions. Agency requires responsibility, it is not a way out of accountability.

#18 Traveler

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 09:20 AM

I see what you are doing now, you are trying to play off the word Agent. The power of the priesthood might work a little better for that description, but I suppose there is some aspect of agency that is doing the Lord's will and therefore acting in His name. In the eyes of God, Jesus becomes liable for our actions but we are still responsible to Jesus for our actions. Agency requires responsibility, it is not a way out of accountability.


What is it that you do not get? Are you really thinking this through? The liability of all sins is taken on and paid in full by Jesus through the atonement as a free gift - for women as well as men. This is for all that were granted to become agents of G-d having kept their first estate in the "per-existance". The priesthood has nothing to do with paying the liability of sins. A priesthood holder cannot pay for the sins of others nor can a priesthood holder forgive sins. The legal justifications of an agent do not apply to the priesthood because other laws and covenants are applicable.

All the responsibilities (liabilities) for our sins was fulfilled and paid in full by Jesus. If you really believe otherwise - I would be most interest in why you think so and what, if any, support you think you have in scripture.

What I think you have confused are the rewards and blessings that one can receive for obedience to covenants. Our accountability and responsibility means that blessings are accountable to our obedience. We do know that blessings and divine glory can only come from obedience - blessings and glory do not and cannot come by grace but by justice. Thus G-d is just in that "blessings" only come by obedience. But G-d also has grace - which is allowed or made possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus which is the only means by which sins can be paid for and overcome.

Even if you wanted to; you cannot be responsible or accountable to pay for you sins - Where did you get such an idea?

The Traveler

#19 Seminarysnoozer

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 06:03 PM

What is it that you do not get? Are you really thinking this through? The liability of all sins is taken on and paid in full by Jesus through the atonement as a free gift - for women as well as men. This is for all that were granted to become agents of G-d having kept their first estate in the "per-existance". The priesthood has nothing to do with paying the liability of sins. A priesthood holder cannot pay for the sins of others nor can a priesthood holder forgive sins. The legal justifications of an agent do not apply to the priesthood because other laws and covenants are applicable.

All the responsibilities (liabilities) for our sins was fulfilled and paid in full by Jesus. If you really believe otherwise - I would be most interest in why you think so and what, if any, support you think you have in scripture.

What I think you have confused are the rewards and blessings that one can receive for obedience to covenants. Our accountability and responsibility means that blessings are accountable to our obedience. We do know that blessings and divine glory can only come from obedience - blessings and glory do not and cannot come by grace but by justice. Thus G-d is just in that "blessings" only come by obedience. But G-d also has grace - which is allowed or made possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus which is the only means by which sins can be paid for and overcome.

Even if you wanted to; you cannot be responsible or accountable to pay for you sins - Where did you get such an idea?

The Traveler


I think you are thinking this through and through, too far, beyond what I said and through to something more than what I said which is really bizarre. I haven't confused anything, only you have interpreted what I was saying as something confusing or something else. I never said that a Priesthood holder could pay for sins, that is something you made up. Why are you trying to put words in my mouth?

If you want to try to play some semantics game like "Our accountability and responsibility means that blessings are accountable to our obedience." Then go ahead and play that game, I am not interested. If you want to talk about the meaning of those phrases, fine, I would love to do that. The fact is that it is our obedience and our blessings and therefore it is our accountability. You can't detach the obedience and the blessings from someone. That is bizarre.

If you want to use the phrases that our Prophets, scriptures and leaders use, then these are they;


Elder Hales “Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”

In the October 1942 general conference, the First Presidency delivered a message to “the Saints in every land and clime,” in which they said, “By virtue of the authority in us vested as the First Presidency of the Church, we warn our people. … the Lord will hold us to a strict accountability.”

Sister Elaine Cannon said;
Accountability is the natural product of agency and is the basis of the plan of life. We are responsible for our own actions and accountable to God for what we choose to do with our lives. Life is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to him.
In Galatians we read, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7.)”

Quentin Cook said; ““We live in perilous times when many believe we are not accountable to God and that we do not have personal responsibility or stewardship for ourselves or others. Many in the world are focused on self-gratification, put themselves first, and love pleasure more than they love righteousness. They do not believe they are their brother’s keeper. In the Church, however, we believe that these stewardships are a sacred trust.” and "Parents can also help children discover and develop their talents. We are responsible for the talents we have received. Children who are not taught that they are accountable for their time and talents are increasingly subject to the foolishness and unrighteousness that are so pervasive in the world."

President Monson said in October 2010; “As I’ve contemplated the various aspects of choice, I’ve put them into three categories: first, the right of choice; second, the responsibility of choice; and third, the results of choice. I call these the three Rs of choice.”

Articles of Faith 2 and 3: “ 2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Elder Todd Christopherson; “When we use the term moral agency, we are appropriately emphasizing the accountability that is an essential part of the divine gift of agency. We are moral beings and agents unto ourselves, free to choose but also responsible for our choices.”

D&C 101:78 “78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

D&C 58 “ 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.”

In the manual “Teaching no Greater Call”; “A calling is a sacred opportunity to serve. It carries with it an accountability to the Lord. It should influence the way you live, governing your decisions and motivating you to be a faithful and wise servant.”


Covenants make it so there is accountability. Obedience may refer to laws even outside covenants. If one has a testimony of the value of Covenants then there comes with it a knowledge of the power of accountability. Being anxiously engaged in a good cause goes beyond just obedience, it is a free will expression, it is doing right without being told what to do (obedience). We are not slaves we are stewards. The slave puts all the fault on the boss and takes no responsibility for the results of their actions, the steward answers to the boss and is not a slothful or unjust steward and pays usury. I never said pay for sins, that was your added comment. I never got that idea, you made that up. I was just talking about paying the usury and being responsible for our stewardships.

Matthew 25 " 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury."

Psalms 37:21 "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth."

#20 Webster

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:56 AM


Agency: The right to act for someone else. I do not see agency as a choice per say. G-d gives us the gift to act for him. If we do not accept this gift or abuse this gift then we, by default of the natural man become the agents of evil or the devil.


I like the concept of Agency used above (the legal ability to act for someone). I agree in principle that we do become agents for God or Satan, and we can use the idea of agency to describe that idea.

But here's the problem with saying that that's what Agency means: our scriptures never actually use the words agent or agency in that way. The revelations use agents and agency in the legal sense of acting for someone, but they never say that man is an agent for God. (But they do consistently declare the principal in the agency relationship.)




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