“I don’t think that word means what you think it means”: What is the sealing power, anyway?

The sealing power is an oft-discussed concept in LDS theology. It is used to describe the motivation of phenomena as diverse as divine intervention in weather patterns and the joining together of eternal families. As a result, definitions of the sealing power tend toward the vague side. Luckily, the Book of Mormon provides some insight into “sealing” and related terminology that allow us to write a potentially more helpful definition. As a result, the sealing power can be defined as the power to act in God’s name in such a way that one’s acts and edicts are treated as His on earth and in heaven.
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The Adversary, Reciprocity, and the Atonement: Part 2A, The Role of Agency

First, I must apologize for the long delay between the first and second installments of this series. I got busy and lazy simultaneously (a rather easy thing to accomplish, really) and I was stalling for time as my thoughts coalesced. Here’s hoping what we got was distilled rather than excreted.

In the first installment, we surveyed the information that we have regarding the nature of Satan’s plan. There are two points on which all theories regarding the plan of the Adversary must agree as they are repeated within the Heavenly Council pericope. Satan wished to moved against agency and that he wanted something that is variously called, power, glory, and honor that our Father in Heaven had and that he did not. The degree to which agency would be destroyed was debated in the ensuing discussion. It was a good discussion and you should check it out. I just want to add that I do think that theories involving the removal of consequences for acts (the removal of punishment or law) are actually attacks on agency itself (as, if we cannot distinguish between two choices, we cannot consciously choose).

So, agency gives us the option of choosing. But who or what do we choose? That’s the question, isn’t it.

Why Free Agency is a crock
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The Adversary, Reciprocity, and the Atonement: Part One, An attempt to recover Satan’s plan

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a bit of time lately thinking about one of the big imponderables in Mormon theology: the acts of the Adversary in the Garden. If we believe that the plan was laid out in the grand, heavenly council, then the Adversary had to have known that he was playing into God’s plan. Why would he do this, especially if the motivation that we always ascribe to him is to frustrate God’s plan? Let’s look at what we know.
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The New Me

After about a week of retirement, I have decided to come back (technically, it took less time than that). Honestly, I have conflicting emotions regarding my return, but I feel like this is the right thing for me right now (much to my own surprise, even).

That said, I am moving away from using my own name. Not that I am ashamed of my writing here and not that I am ashamed of my association with you all, but I feel that such is in the best interests of my family. In any case, from here on out I should like to generally be referred to as HP. It is an acronym that I find apt. Should you wish further explanation, please email me at hpsoandsos at gmail dot com and I will reveal to you the true meaning of my newly-minted moniker.

I should also point out that I am also no longer in charge around here. We are a collective (at least, I think we are).

In any case, I appreciate your patience with my brief mental/moral/spiritual breakdown (“breakdown – breakthrough”). I’ll get back to posting silly web-polls next week.


Hello all. I am pleased and saddened to announce my retirement from the bloggernacle (at least until I get more time and motivation). I have been doing this for roughly one and a half years now and I have found it an enlightening and edifying experience, mostly. I have learned a lot here and I hope that I have given something back. The thing that makes it hardest to go is the knowledge that I am likely leaving mid-conversation. I know it will go on without me, but I would have liked to have seen it through to the end.

I will probably continue to lurk a bit and I will keep up correspondance with my friends (for that is what most of you are). I just can’t devote the necessary time to the site and to the community that I need to right now. It’s not you, it’s me.

In any case, the blog will go on. Mogget, David J, and Chris H will continue to write interesting things here and I would encourage you to listen to what they have to say (unless it is David J giving music advice). Turn to Mogget about site questions as Mogget will be in charge of it. They’re good folk with good thought and they need you folks to keep them in line. I will be joined in retirement by FaithHopeLove and Rob, who have moved on to greener pastures. Mine isn’t necessarily greener, but it does need some plowing.

Best wishes.

Guest Post: On the Wings of a Dove?

J. Watkins is a long-time commenter on the site and someone off whom I often bounce ideas in the Ancient Studies room of the BYU Library. He defines himself in the following terms: “I’m Justin Watkins. I’m from Cardston, Alberta and I’m an undergraduate senior at BYU studying ancient near eastern studies. My focus is in the NT but I’d like to study
the LXX for my graduate work. I also love studying Church history as a hobby. I’ve been married nearly 4 years to my Aussie sweetheart, Sarah, who is my 4th grade teaching sugar momma. We have no kids. I fear that I am a true nerd in every sense of the word. On the LDS scale I’d say I fall just right of the middle as far as my views on doctrine and ethics go.”

I’ve been intrigued since my mission about the phrase from Matt. 3:16: “and
he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him.”
(KJV) My current study of Matthew in Greek 311 has reraised the question
about exactly what this phrase means. For instance, Mark 1:10 uses similar
language: “and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.” John 1:32 says:
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon
him.” But Luke says something different. Luke 3:22 says: “and the Holy
Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.” Our modern day
scriptures universally use the phrase “in the form of a dove.” (see 1 Ne.
11:27; 2 Ne. 31:8; D&C 93:15; Abr. Fac. 2, fig. 7)
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Historical Mormon Smackdown: Academic influence Edition!

Hello and welcome back. I have been thinking a lot about the influence of LDS academics on the landscape of our church. They do have influence, but is it enough or the right variety? What is the role of the LDS academic? Well, what better way to begin this than with a web-poll.

To that end, I was wondering if you feel that, since we’ve had LDS academics of one stripe or another since the 50’s, if they have had any influence on the leaders of the church? Certainly not the kind of influence that Christ has had (nor am I suggesting otherwise), but have they helped shape the way that the Brethren understand and teach LDS theology. I think yes, but I am not sure how much. With that bias in mind, we have the following:

Which LDS academic’s influence was most evident over conference: Hugh W. Nibley or Robert Millet?

Obviously, Hugh Nibley is the LDS scholar par excellance. Would we even have LDS scholarship without him? Probably, it would look and sound much differently. He is an essayist, theologian, ancient historian, firebrand, and mensch. He is particularly fond of the gospel as taught by President Brigham Young. Go here to read his article on Brigham Young in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (you’ll need to scroll down).

Robert Millet was the dean of the BYU religion department . He is the author of several books, including the recent Another Jesus. He is partially responsible for the recent emphasis on grace in the church, as is evidenced here (Choose talk #11).

Please vote to the left and discuss below.

And the winner is…

The Restoration of the Priesthood has beaten the Book of Mormon in a poll of the most influential forces in today’s Mormonism. The final vote was 18-13. I would like to thank everyone who participated.

So, does this tell us anything interesting? Also, any suggestions for the return of Historical Mormon Smackdown next week?