Response to Comments on “Wow” and Tent People Post

Ordinarily, a post written by me will not generate a single comment.  I have been please to see not only comments coming from the recent posts, but thoughtful ones, full of charity, too.  I was wrong to assume Pontius’s visionary text was naturally used by AVOWers, because it says what they happen to believe about the destruction of the world.  It is a sign of the quality of Mormon readers, that they would not only point out what I missed, and do so kindly; but also that they could see the differences I passed over.

It seems that whatever the book by Pontius / Spencer is about, it can be read as both confirming and denouncing what AVOWers and tent people and Call Outers espouse, hope for, and would like to see happen to the majority of God’s children.  And probably these terms, AVOWers and so on, are not really good characterizations, either, of the diversity and complexity “in” such groups.

I should’ve known this, as an anthropologist, but forgot my anthropology for a time.

Let me respond to the comments, too, in more detail.

Concerning the feeling of the spirit said to result from reading Pontius’s blog, or his books (or Denver’s, or mine):

This gets to the heart of the matter: what sort of God does he espouse?  I said he was a devil-worshipper, and apparently folks get a little worked up when you call their recently deceased friend a worshipper of Satan (this is just a joke, making fun of myself).

I do think the God he preached about, in the posts I’ve read, is otherwise known to me as Satan, however.

Here’s why:  In the Beginning, God comes among the Noble and Great Ones, and calls them “good.”  He also comes among the spirits, and calls them “good.”  He makes the NGOs the “rulers” for the spirits, but does not say what being a ruler really means.  A great one, Like Unto God (LUG), adds his rules to the plan to take elements and form worlds for the spirits to inhabit.  In his plan, there is a clear accounting and distribution of rewards, to those who exhibit the most obedience to the “lord their god.”  What he seems to be attempting is to establish a rule which has a theory for what progresses and develops spirits.  In his theory, it is obedience to superior beings, pure and simple.  Such higher beings, moreover, are also bound by the rule, and should not go about giving things to lower order beings who don’t deserve them.

Now, when God came among them, he called them all good, and not really in need of tests of obedience, proving them herewith to see if they will do all things commanded.  The elements do this, but we are dealing with spirits, not dirt.  LUG seems to confuse these distinct orders of existence.  So, why add the clause about obedience?  LUG seems to have a notion about what makes the universe work, and he seems pretty well convinced that the Lord their God is probably what makes it all work.  He is right, but also subtle.  He uses a title, Lord their God, relative to those tested; rather than an absolute standard (God), and leaves open a way for him to take up that title.  So, when the Lord asks whom he should send (now, not in the meridian of time), one says “here I am,” (the great I am, let’s say); another, the second, also offers his services, and is denied.  Being angry with his rejection by God, he leaves.

Note a few important details.  God did not command he leave, but the Second left by his own free will.  Let’s say he had pronounced the rule about obedience to God, and by violating his own rule, he was bound to its consequences, and lost his estate.  But that does not mean he won’t keep trying to put the rule into play, for everyone, everywhere.  Should he prove that men are not Good, as God said, he would have reasons for saying God is not so omniscient, and perhaps is blinded.  Perhaps we need a new God, you can hear him hinting: one more careful about what he does with his elements, and weighs all things to ensure he does not waste resources on those who, by his standard, do not deserve them.

Yet, what we see with Jesus is talk about a perfect father in heaven, who sends the rain on the just and the unjust, and blesses those who curse him.  These statements can be found in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.  Such a God seems not at all to be following the plan of LUG, who would not send rain on the unjust, nor bless those who curse him.  We are beggars, not employees in this system, and no matter what, remain unprofitable servants.  By LUG’s accounting, only he would get the estates.

When we preach obedience to God, this has a truth to it.  It matters, though which God we are preaching about.  We have the example of Jesus as a the right way for Gods to rule: longsuffering, patience, forbearance, hope, charity, and trusting beings before they have “earned” that trust.  Why would he be crucified in the Meridian of time, if not as a sign of his hope and faith that those who came before, and after, would believe in him?  Trust seems important here, and can be lost, but only because it was given to folks before they “earned” it, right?

With LUG we have a system of strict rewards for obedience, an endless hierarchy of toadyism, sycophancy, and so on, which looks a lot like what we’d otherwise find disgusting and dangerous, in other realities (e.g., Brigham Young’s Utah; the government; our workplace).  There is no right or wrong, under LUG, except what LUG says.  By contrast, Jesus seems to trust even LUG, originally, to rule in a manner good for good spirits.  But, of course, LUG offered his plan for rulers and for the ruled, and it seems clear that such a plan does not work, for rulers or the ruled.  D&C 121 gives us what the “one like unto the Son of Man”  would’ve advocated, in that council in heaven.

LUG would like you to believe that “having the spirit” is the reward for righteousness, but in reality it seems that many people enjoy “the spirit” who probably are not so righteous.  They may be entrusted with its gifts, for a time; for the edification of others, but in no way earned it.  It is also the case that our terms are not entirely clear, here; by “the spirit” we seem to mean many things, and this too should mean that we can receive “it” for many reasons, such as a sign of mercy due to our being beguiled by the craftiness of men.  What sort of inferences can we make, if we accept that God might send “the spirit” to sinners, to give them hope in his mercy?  How would such a hope be corrupted, except by the principles of LUG: convincing us that what comes from mercy, is in fact a sign of our having earned it?  Having received many gifts from generous beings, I still have to fight the pride that says, “you earned this, it is no gift or charity.”  But that fight comes less often, now, although I remain in need of charity no less.  I think I have been taught about mercy by merciful beings, doing merciful things.  I would like to think I have progressed, as a result.  Had the LUG plan been implemented, I would have no insight into mercy, nor into the LUG plan itself: it would seem natural that the world was so constructed.  What possible conclusion could one come to, in that world, except that those who ruled it, earned their thrones, and ought to be obeyed in all things?  Where is right and wrong, truth and untruth, in this world?  By contrast, it was through mercy that I got some perspective.

Now, for sure I’m still trying to get Luggism out of my system, and it is good that if I post things which are more of Luggism than D&C121-ism, that readers of this blog hope I would do better, and even thought I could do better.  I hope to make good on your trust.


  1. I don’t understand. Are you saying that Abraham 3:24-26 is Satan speaking? In 23 does not God choose rulers and establish a hierarchy by that act? Are you saying the three heavens is not a true doctrine, or that we will all be saved?

    1. Yes, I say it is Satan. He chooses rulers for the spirits, but does not say how to rule: Satan offers his way of ruling (hierarchy). The three heavens doesn’t come under this reading, as I see it, though (it was at least partially borrowed from Rigdon’s fellow Campbellite preachers, though; as I show in Vol.1). I don’t know what you mean by “all be saved.” All who desire to NOT have Lucifer as their father will be saved, I suppose.

      1. So I bring up three heavens because based on D&C 76 it is a stratified system based on some kind of merit, valiance to some principle.

        I bring up “all be saved” because, well, are there no requirements, or is the requirement to abstain from imposing stratified systems on others. Under this interpretation, how is salvation obtained?

      2. Micah,
        The answer to “how is salvation obtained” is easy… Claim mercy by giving it to others. You may stumble a bit as you begin to walk down this road, but no worries. Christ’s grace is sufficient if your intent is pure.

      3. Also, if we were “good” at that meeting are you saying we are still, or have the materials made us not so good? How does this fit with the natural man is an enemy to God unless he yields to the enticings of the spirit?

      4. I’d say we are unbelieving, and have messed up ideas about God: that he is vindictive, punitive, calculating, and to be feared at all times; and rather manipulative, testing everyone all the time like a paranoid dictator; and manic, too. These beliefs have rendered us no less good, but certainly capable of evil which we otherwise would not even consider. We are still good, though, and after the vineyard is burned, all that remains is the good: Not only the good people, but the good in every person will be the plantings for the new vineyard. It will be restored as it was in the beginning, when we were good, and our bodies perfect.

  2. This is a lot to chew on. Who is the person identified in Abr 3:24 as “like unto God”. This person said “We will go down.” I can think of two people who said that phrase in a popular movie once. One of them was named Michael, which name, means, “one who is like God”.

    Also, verse 27 talks about one “like unto the Son of Man”. The Son of Man is generally thought of as Jehovah, so who is one “like unto Jehovah”? Is Jesus “like unto Jehovah”? Am I “like unto myself”?

    I don’t really understand why things are phrased the way they are here.

    1. Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense to say Jesus is like unto the Son of Man, when that title is usually used for Jesus. So I’d say it’s someone else: Michael. The Jehovah=Jesus thing is just a tradition, which confuses matters.

      1. The phrase “son of man” also confuses me, since Son of Man is used to refer to Jesus (I meant Jesus, when I said Jehovah, assuming the two are the same), but it is also used by satan in Moses 1:12 “Moses, son of man, worship me” as if to say, “you’re not a son of God, you’re a son of man”. Someone explained it to me that the ‘Man’ in ‘Son of Man’ means ‘Man of Holiness’, but I have no proof of that.

        Daymon, I love how you challenge our assumptions. I have to go the scriptures to see if Jesus = Jehovah, or if it’s a tradition.

        D&C 110:2-4 “We saw the Lord (I assume this means Jesus, but maybe this isn’t always so) standing on the breastwork of the pulpit…his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah (assuming only Jehovah can have the voice of Jehovah)…I am your advocate with the Father (so the speaker here, Lord, is not the Father, and therefore the Father =/=Jehovah).

        It seems reasonable that Lord = Jehovah, but I guess it remains to show that Lord = Jesus.

  3. But…the scriptures say ‘obedience is the first law of heaven’, right?

    …wait, they don’t say that??

    So why do mormons say it all the time?

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone interpret “Like unto God” as being Satan. Standard interpretation(tm) would be God = Father, Like unto God = Jesus/Son of Man, Like unto SoM = Satan.

    Fascinating. I don’t know if I agree with you, but it throws a whole new twist on this chapter that I need to think about.

    1. I made a mistake there, “Like unto Son of Man” is the first, referring to Jesus.

      Seems to me in this quick reading that “like unto” in this context is used to refer to the person speaking, no? “Like unto God” == God speaking, “Like unto Son of Man” == Son of Man speaking? Maybe?

      1. I’d say it doesn’t make sense to have Jesus “like unto the son of man,” given that “son of man” almost always refers to Jesus. Why assume he is asking about a Savior here, anyway? Why not, ‘whom should I send to start this building project?’ The question of how to save mankind has not been put forward yet.

  5. This is a very thought provoking reading of Abraham.

    One question, regarding the assertion:

    A great one, Like Unto God (LUG), adds his rules to the plan to take elements and form worlds for the spirits to inhabit.

    In the text of Abraham 3:24-26 the one LUG voices “the plan” (v. 24) and “his add[ed]” rules (v. 25-26). How do you arrive at your reading that the plan was God’s and only the additional criteria LUG’s? Are you importing metatext from elsewhere?

    1. I’d say there wasn’t really any plan, yet, if by “plan” we mean, “Plan of Salvation.” God seems to relate NGOs and Spirits (rulers-to-ruled), and then there’s element to make worlds with. LUG adds the conditions about how to regulate the economy of creation, let’s say.

      1. If we posit the conditions as being LUG’s, why not credit him with the idea to take elements and form worlds as well?

  6. The Book of Mormon can help us out here to clear up identities. Apparently, Zeezrom was confused about this too, because he asked, “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?” Amulek replied, “Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.”

    When Jesus appeared to the Nephites, he said, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”

    Finally (for this purpose, anyway), there were significant changes made to the Book of Mormon between the original manuscript and the 1837 edition. Of note is in 1 Nephi 11 in three places where “the Son of” was inserted before “God.” Joseph’s original writings have Mary as “the mother of God,” and Jesus as “the Everlasting God” and “even the Eternal Father!” In 1 Nephi 13 we are also told (in the original version) that the Gentiles will have records which will make known to all people that “the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world…”

    Our tradition dances around this declaration of who Christ is by saying that the Son is “one with the Father in purpose,” but they are distinct beings. But what if Jesus (who created all things in the heavens and earth, remember) is the very same being dwells in the “midst of them all” and declared “the works which [his] hands have made” to Abraham? If that is the case, then a vacancy will be available for the “one like unto God” spot, because Jesus IS God, not like unto him.

    It’s enough to cause our brain cells explode, but it makes a lot more sense to me than the story we’ve been told all our lives.

    1. It does leave a vacancy. What if Satan and Lucifer a two different individuals? Satan could be like unto God and Lucifer could be the one whose idea was rejected……

    2. It seems to me that each person decides if Christ is their Father.

      Once there was a man who had a dream that he was in a great hall where all the churches of the world were gathered. He met a humble man and women (2 Ne 28:14), but did not know who they represented.

      He asked: Who are you?

      We are the covenant people of the Lord (1 Ne 14:14), firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.(Alma 27:27) Because of the covenant, we are called the children of Christ, his sons, and daughters. (Mosiah 5:7) Born of God, changed from our carnal and fallen state to state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters: we have become new creatures. (Mosiah 27: 25-26) Gladly taking upon us the name of Christ. (Alma 46:15)

      As sons and daughters of Christ, what does He ask of you?

      To come forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and witness unto the Church that we have truly repented of all our sins. (Moroni 6:12) To be checked in the pride of our hearts (Alma 15:17) and to not set our hearts upon riches. (Alma 1:30) To be liberal to all, impart of our substances and having no respect to persons as to those that stand in need. That we do not send away any who are naked, or that are hungry, or that are athirst or are sick. (Alma 1:30) To be perfectly honest and upright in all things. (Alma 27:27)

      What is it like to be a son and daughter of Christ?

      We are received by him (Mosiah 26:21) and He freely forgives us. (Mosiah 26:22) Christ works many miracles among us.(4 Ne 1:29) We are armed with righteousness and the power of God (1 Ne 14:14) We are numbered among the Church of Christ: nourished by the good word of God, to keep us in the right way, relying alone upon the merits of Christ. (Moroni 6:4) Our hearts are purified and sanctified because of yielding our hearts unto God (Helaman 3:35)

      Can your church survive?

      For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people. Mosiah 27:13

  7. I can’t with all the acronyms. You lost me by paragraph 2. I had been toying with the idea of buying ur Cultural History book but I just can’t with ur writing style. Maybe ur easier to read in an actual text book than on my phone?

    1. “I never said it would be easy, I just said it would be worth it.”


      Err, wait a second………….

      1. I never said, “I never said it would be easy, I just said it would be worth it.” I said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

  8. Who is to say that all the spirits that ever were created were existent among those declared as good? Doesn’t that seem a little premature to assume that all of the spirits that ever were made were gathered here in this description? Could it not be that those who were gathered were the Noble and Great ones and not all of the creations of God? This seems to be the case because later in Chapter 4 in the account of the creation JS specifically defines that God could be more accurately read as The God’s; and that the God’s consisted of those whom He had previously gathere. This would be a council of men who have placed upon their shoulders the role of directing this portion of creation.
    Earlier in Chapter 3 The Lord had taught Abraham that he was greater in intelligence (glory, light, truth, etc.,) than all of this eternity. Having accepted a submissive role to “The Gods” who were/are his subordinates could He not be described as one like unto God? Being that in eternity knowledge is king, and He being greater than they all yet taken upon Himself the subordinate role; could He not be described as like unto God?

    1. I agree that not all the spirits ever created need to be gathered there. there does seem like a distinction b/t the NGOs, and the spirits, and both are said to be “good” by God, whatever their total population or representativeness of every being.
      This God is greater than all of them, too, as you say. If I understand you correctly: I can’t see why the same being would be described as both God, and like unto God, though. Even though submitting Himself to less intelligent beings, I don’t think would warrant the change in description from God to like unto God. It seems like the one like God responds to God, too. Indeed, your understanding of the greater submitting to the lesser seems to invert all that the one like unto God suggested about obedience to a ruler. If God submits to lesser beings, and to their ways, and yet still turns it all for good in the End, then why would he need the plan of estates, and second estates, and so on? He can give all that he creates, and not worry about some folks not having earned it. In fact, the greater beings can do this, because they can “fix” whatever evils are done by beings making ill use of their gifts. It may take time, of course, but the alternative is total intervention by God, which moves pretty quickly into unrighteous dominion, I think. The standard of total obedience to God is right, it seems; it just depends on which god. And I’d say there are clear differences between the plan offered by the one like god, and the god described by Jesus in the sermon on the mount, and at the temple in bountiful.

      1. Interesting. However if the NGO’s represented both souls and spirits who made up God (the governing power of the created universe); and if those were the only ones (souls and spirits) which were the ones to which Christ had referred to as good, then it doesn’t seem that Lucifer/Satan would have much of a standing to refer to them later as corrupted if they had been made good from the foundation of the world, but not the other, later creations. Or perhaps I don’t understand your original point…?

        My second point about Christ being greater than God (the Governing power of the universe) is that if He being greater (more intelligent) than those NGO’s who made up the God (governing power made up of many individuals) of our creation yet submitted Himself to their rule because He knew that they were good (despite His knowledge that He was greater) then He could have been considered outside of that primary God (Governing power made up of many.) In other words, if by the act of submitting to their rule for this creation and His role in their plan, he could be considered outside of the structure of what made up “God” and therefore considered LUG due to His greater knowledge and yet his submissive role to their good rule.

        Now you may have understood all of that but I thought I would clarify it more for myself to make sure that I am talking the same points as you. In that direction, I don’t understand your question of the plan of estates? How would what I described here-above make the plan of estates disqualified as a properly functional operation to bring all of the second creations to their highest potential?

  9. Also, can someone on here direct me to the actual BoM scriptures that condemn the bible? I cant figure out how the BoM condemns the bible but I wouldnt be surprised if that were true. Neither book makes any sense to me. But my money’s on the BoM so that’s the one I’m going with. And whydesnt the BoM just flat out say in there, The Bible is condemned. Why beat around the bush? Please someone help. I’m on my 5th reading of BoM and still clueless.

    1. Babs,
      To answer your last question first… the Book of Mormon couldn’t outright say it was the Bible for a couple of reasons. First of all, if it did that, it would be dead from the get-go. No one would even give it a first glimpse (not that we have given it much more than that). In fact, the B of M USES the Bible in it’s language (archaic KJ English) and references to some familiar Biblical characters and stories. This draws people in. Sydney Rigdon saw it as a sign of a miracle and felt it condoned all the beliefs he had developed as a Campbellite preacher. It created a movement. Of course the movement was based on false traditions and our “stumbling block,” but at least it got legs.

      Secondly, you have to imagine this from Nephi’s perspective. He received a vision of things that were unfamiliar to him and had to try to describe those things, which would then be translated into our modern language, centuries later. I think he did a pretty good job, all things considered.

      And then to address your question about references… take a close look at the vision given to Nephi. Although it can be challenging, follow the pieces from beginning to end (like the “Book of the Lamb,” the Gentiles, the Great and Abominable Church, etc.) You may find that the things we were taught all our lives about these prophecies don’t quite fit the explanation given. But there is a lot of fun in the searching if you’re willing to give it a look.

    2. I think the Bible is said by Nephi (1 Ne.12-14) and his angel to have passed through the Great and Abominable Church, and to have brought the Gentiles into captivity. Had the BoM actually said, the Bible is the devil’s corruption of the Book of the Lamb, and it has brought Christians into the Devil’s kingdom, it probably would not have been a very much read book. How do you convince prisoners that their shackles are keeping them inside the cell, when they’ve been raised to believe these shackles give them life? You can imagine a lot of resistance to anyone attempting to remove said shackles.

  10. So Daymon, let me ask a question about Ezekiel 14 in general. It states that 1. people who go to the prophets will be led astray according to their idols and 2. the prophets themselves will be led astray.

    So let’s say you attain to the status of prophet, have the visions of heaven open to you. How do you know what you are seeing isn’t a deception? How does anyone know how to act?

    1. Well, if the vision is given in response to questions from followers who’ve set up idols in their hearts, I’d be willing to doubt the absolute truth of the vision. That’s not to say it’s all false, but that it had to be “messaged” in some way, to speak through those idols. You can see why Joseph would’ve been eager to teach this principle: it left him in doubt to his visions, too, I suppose; at least to the particulars; and would do so, until they, the followers, either refused to follow one man (and thus, have their minds darkened); or, gave up their idols. As it was, the prophet was taken from them, you know.

      1. So this, then gives rise to question parts of the D&C, for example, the setting up a New Testament church vs. bringing back the religion of the ancient patriarchs.

        But Joseph said: “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught,” which can be true, even if there are errors in the revelations because of Ezekiel 14.

        I’m troubled, because I desire salvation and don’t know how to get there. At times, I feel like I’m on the right track, glorious possibilities, more often, I feel more lost and confused than ever.

        It is refreshing to see you, as an academic, and at the same time striving as a “native”. Thank you for that, and thanks for taking the time to respond to everyone.

  11. This perspective on LUG and his role in the beginning is really interesting. I was reading in thechronicleproject’s version of Genesis and in the garden when Satan appears to tempt Adam and Eve his name is translated as “the overseer of the creation.”

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