February 8th, 2015

A Widespread Misunderstanding About Satan’s War on Agency

Having been raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was taught the key doctrines of the faith—along with various teachings that were not necessarily true, though I accepted them as such in my youth. This was the case with one of the most central issues in our theology—the catalyst for choosing Christ over Satan. I’m referring to the “war on agency” waged by Lucifer, God’s fallen son.

It wasn’t until I read a book called Satan’s War on Free Agency several years ago that I realized I had not correctly understood this foundational event. Taking certain statements by church leaders at face value, I had believed that Satan wanted to force us to be good, and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ wanted to allow us our agency to choose to be good.

Reading the book, however, I realized that since the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ there have been contradictory statements made by church leaders suggesting, perhaps, some confusion on this topic—certainly there was not consensus. For example, then-Elder Ezra Taft Benson taught, “The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force” (emphasis added).

Other quotes from church leaders exist suggesting disagreement on this position. Questioning “whether the intelligence of man can be compelled,” President J. Reuben Clark said, “As I read the scriptures, Satan’s plan required one of two things: either the compulsion of the mind, the spirit, the intelligence of man, or else saving men in sin” (emphasis added). Questioning the former, it’s clear he was suggesting a stronger case for the latter.

The Church’s own approved literature suggests a diverging view of the common “force” narrative; one Institute manual notes, “Most people think that [Satan] would have forced us to do right, but that is only one possibility. Certain conditions are necessary if we are to have agency… Satan might have destroyed our agency by eliminating any one of those [conditions] and he is still trying to destroy our agency using the same techniques of deception and lies” (emphasis added).

What are those conditions? Understanding how agency works will help us understand how Satan sought—and seeks—to undermine it. Agency requires three things: options to choose from, freedom to choose, and consequence for the choice. Like a three-legged stool, agency can be weakened or destroyed (in theory) by attacking any one of the three.

Let’s also establish an important point: no scripture mentions Satan forcing people to be righteous. Further, we read that Lucifer told Heavenly Father, “I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost.” Consider this question: if Lucifer intended to coerce obedience to God, then why did he propose to redeem us? Redemption would not be necessary under a system of compulsory obedience. This admission on Satan’s part makes clear that his proposal included options to choose from, and the freedom to choose—the two conditions that would make redemption necessary at all.

It therefore follows that Satan’s proposal sought to undermine the third: consequence for the choice.

This becomes a logical understanding of Satan’s strategy when you compare his pre-mortal proposal to his actions today. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s worth pondering whether the same is true of Satan. Wouldn’t he be attempting to do today what he did then? Nobody believes that Satan is trying to force us to obey God today; why do we believe he attempted it eons ago?

Imagine Satan addressing the hosts of heaven, whether individually or collectively, in an attempt to build support for his proposal. Do we honestly believe that trillions (or more) of God’s children would get excited about being forced into compliance? Coercion naturally evokes resistance; it would be impossible to build a popular campaign on a platform of widespread compulsion. It’s almost laughable to picture Satan at a pre-mortal pep rally, shouting to the masses, “Follow me, and I will force you to be good!” It simply does not ring true.

What does seem viable is Satan encouraging people to follow him so they could do what they wanted to do and be held harmless. Consider the state of affairs during the time of the restoration, in which God notes that people “seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, after the image of his own God.” This is an environment in which Satan finds success.

In other words, Satan proposed exempting us from the consequences of choice—eating, drinking, and being merry, while still being redeemed in the end. Satan wanted to save everybody, regardless of their choices.

This is appealing. It’s definitely a platform that would lead away the hearts of the hosts of heaven. And it’s exactly how we see Satan operating in scripture.

Think of the secret combinations in the Book of Mormon gaining power and then replacing the laws of God with the “laws of wickedness“—committing “all manner of wickedness and whoredoms” and getting away with it, or so they thought. The corrupt Nephites in Ammonihah “did not believe in the repentance of their sins” and had to be taught that “the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins” (emphasis added). They had come to embrace Satan’s model, believing that they could do whatever they wanted and get away with it.

Satan gave Korihor a message which he regurgitated to others, offering a false philosophy in which he led away “the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.” Korihor clearly was not compelling obedience to the Nephite faith; his campaign was a consequence-free lifestyle.

Nephi noted that “there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin… there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” Minimization of accountability—dodging the consequence—is part and parcel of Satan’s strategy.

We cannot fight an enemy we do not understand; resisting Satan requires knowing he exists and how he operates. Satan wants to deceive us to overthrow us. Misunderstanding his motives is an effective sleight of hand; if we don’t see him coming, his chance of success increases.

Whatever the reason that the “force” model has persisted as a belief regarding how Satan attracted a third of God’s children, I find it lacking both in scriptural support, personal observation, and logic. A being who “stirreth [us] up to iniquity against that which is good” is not interested in compulsory obedience. The reality is, I think, obvious: the Enemy of God wants us to make bad choices, and tempts us into doing so by leading us to believe that we will not one day be held accountable for our actions.

156 Responses to “A Widespread Misunderstanding About Satan’s War on Agency”

  1. Joshua Baron
    February 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Good points. I don’t think it changes your conclusion, but you should probably deal with Moses 4:3.

    3 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

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/moses/4?lang=eng

  2. Patrick
    February 8, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    It all defies logic.

  3. Connor
    February 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Joshua — the book I referenced analyzes that verse in detail. Suffice it to say, it harmonizes well with the argument I’ve briefly offered. For those who are new to this take on agency, the book is a good read—even if I disagree with a few points, especially his proposed application to parenting.

  4. log
    February 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    George Laub Journal, April 6th, 1843

    But Satan or Lucifer being the next heir and had alloted to him great power and authority even prince of power of the eir He spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all [he] even those who sined against the holy ghost and he accused his brethren and was herld [hurled] from the council for striving to breake the law emediatly and there was a warfare with Satan and the gods and the[y] hurld Satan out of his place and all them that would not keep the law of the councill But he himself being one of the council would not keep his or their first estate for he was one of the Sons of perdition and concequently all the Sons of perdition become devils &[c].

    =========

    Unfortunately, there appears indeed to be an element of coercion here. Those who sin against the Holy Ghost are they who do not want to be saved; they do not want to be forgiven.

    To save them would entail compulsion.

  5. Joyce Mitchell
    February 8, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    I agree with Joshua Baron. Please address how Satan’s plan to save us “in our sins” destroys the agency of man.

    Also how could Satan even pitch that we could get to heaven in a sinful state since no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

    Forcing us to be sin-free is the only scenario that I can see addresses both. Unless you’re saying that Satan as the atoner would not require us to believe on him…but that would destroy faith, not agency.

  6. Curtis
    February 8, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    This is something I’ve often thought about too. Alma 42 suggests one way Satan could have achieved this without coercion. Alma makes a big deal about how Cherubim had to be placed there in front of the Tree of Life so that Adam could not eat of it and destroy the entire plan of Salvation. This would definitely have been one way agency would have been made of no consequence since the Tree of Life would have already been partaken of.

    2 Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee. For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken–yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life–

    3 Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit–

    4 And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.

    5 For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.
    Alma 42:2-5

    “In God’s Image and Likeness” is a fantastic book and goes into this topic a little bit.

  7. Kyle Alan Hale
    February 8, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    I agree that this interpretation is more scripturally supported. However, it can be argued that it makes Lucifer and Jehovah nearly indistinguishable. Both preserve agency. Both offer to save all of God’s children, via a redemption of some sort. It’s interesting that Lucifer’s method of redemption is never described, as far as I can think of, aside from the force theory that you’re proposing be thrown out. So, the only difference between the two is that A) God the father gets credit in Jehovah’s plan, and B) the scriptures, the proffered word of the same God mentioned above, provide details about Jehovah’s plan. In other words, the deity who gets credit from a plan says he likes that plan most. There’s no inherent deontic power in that statement, no moral imperative, since the rightness of the plan relies on a presupposition of God’s goodness, which goodness is only claimed within those same scriptures. Claiming Jehovah’s plan as morally superior is a circular argument of sorts.

    Who’s to say, if we knew of a full plan of Lucifer, that his plan wouldn’t be as viable? What’s the difference between not letting one soul be lost and Jehovah’s plan to be the savior of mankind? Again, the difference is the above two points, and to expound on point B, Jehovah’s Plan of Salvation in LDS doctrine provides that all spirits born will be saved, including murderers, rapists, etc., except for the Sons of Perdition, those who sin in word after a perfect knowledge. That’s a very slim margin of difference (exaggerated nuances between “from” and “in” notwithstanding), and frankly, Lucifer’s plan to just save everyone makes more sense, rings true, as you put it.

    I should of course add that I don’t think that either Jehovah or Lucifer exist, that the whole issue in question here is the product of the conflicts that arise out of stories accumulated by humans over the course of many years, especially the conflicts that arise from trying to live by that collection, with all its conflicts, as though it were a document of Truth. I only bring up the above points to illustrate that it is the scriptures themselves that are logically flawed, that the fallacy of the destruction of agency is merely a secondary fallacy leading from a larger one. Now, there’s no reason why religion has to conform to Western ideas of formal logic, but since you make appeals to the same form of logic in your argument, I would think that it should be taken all the way.

  8. Jeff
    February 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    I enjoyed the alternate point of view discussed in this post. And though I like some of the points you’ve suggested, I tend to believe there are elements of both (or all) ways in which our agency can be sabotaged by Satan. In fact he continues to try to coerce us into doing that which he would have us do, although his ultimate goal has changed. Now he desires that we succumb to temptation and evil, and join him in misery (if we are to believe he was originally sincere in his desire to bring us all back home, then his goal, and even his strategy, have changed). In my view, he definitely does far more coercing than we might believe. Satan very literally screams in our ears to attempt to force us to sin, and frankly will possess those who give him the power, while the Lord simply asks us to heed His words. No screaming, no wailing, no gnashing, just patient teaching and waiting.

  9. log
    February 8, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    Connor, there are other considerations here that I suspect Brother Wright did not understand.

    The nature of salvation is that it is a change of nature – a change from having fear, resentment, bitterness, enmity, hatred, envy, pride, lust, covetousness, betrayal, and so on, to having perfect love, fearlessness, long-suffering, kindness, faithfulness, and so on.

    Once we receive the Holy Ghost through sincere repentance and mighty prayer unto a perfect faith in Christ, and are baptized by fire, experiencing the mighty change of heart, being filled with love and light, we have tasted this change of nature, this change of state, this change of status – and thus it is set before us whether we will choose the path wherein we keep this change – and that path is delineated by the Savior’s teachings, choosing good continually – or if we will reject it, cast out the Holy Spirit, return to sin – abusing others, enforcing inequality, and permit the devil to seal us his, being captivated by his spirit, choosing evil continually.

    If we take the latter path, then we commit the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is unpardonable – because we are knowing enemies to righteousness, having willfully chosen evil, having sought for spiritual death as diligently as we had once sought for life, knowingly casting out the Holy Spirit wherewith we were once made free.

    Satan’s offer entailed compelling the change of nature upon those who had already knowingly rejected it. While it could be called “forcing us to be righteous,” that doesn’t really do it justice.

    God will not force this change upon any – he will give us what we are willing to receive.

  10. log
    February 8, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    … In fact, both the orthodox view and Brother Wright’s view, together, get to the heart of it.

    Satan would have saved us in our sins, by forcing the change of nature upon us when we would not.

    So it seems to me.

  11. Craig
    February 8, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    I think you are spot on. Think of the great council in heaven. Satan puts forth a plan to force all to be good. And a third of the host of heaven steps forward and says “yea, force us, that’s what we want”. And to this day they are trying to overturn the Father’s plan. They sill want us all (including themselves) to be forced to do the right thing. I just don’t think so. I came to this realization when I taught a lesson on Nehor. He taught that all would be saved no matter what they did. Imagine he had founded a church that forced its members to do what was right. Not so popular I would guess.

  12. MM
    February 8, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    Nailed it on the head Connor. I love having conversations on this topic with anyone. Even God himself does not have the power to simple take away man’s agency, he would cease to be God. So goes the same for the idea of Satan forcing us to do good. The only logical way he could have in theory “destroyed” agency, was by removing the consequences of that agency.

  13. J
    February 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Or perhaps Lucifer wanted everyone to suffer for their own sins immediately upon committing them. That is compulsory. In fact were you to suffer immediately you would have no choice. You would know after having been beaten with a few stripes or a lot of stripes depending on your righteousness that you could enter into Gods presence. We all are learning as we grow, the difference between sin and transgression. If The atonement actually allows us to choose to be led into captivity and death as well as helps us to become like our Father in Heaven because we desire to do so and we are not forced to do so because of punishment for our owns sins. The same battle exists today- Christ the Lord suffered for us already and we can choose to either suffer ourselves (the path of Satan) or choose life eternal which is the Savior. Hence the importance of the atonement now. Otherwise we are following the path of Satan by not thinking ourselves worthy. In this the great plan we have chosen we have a choose to suffer or not. This is true agency. Otherwise we would all have had to suffer and life would not contain joy. It would be miserable and we would have no chance to grow and actually become like our Father.

  14. Raymond Gibby
    February 8, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Joyce Mitchell makes a good point about the requirements of entering into Heaven. Those that would enter into Heaven must by choice behave heavenly and not be unclean. I think the way to address this is to understand where political power comes from. It comes from the honor given to a leader from those that follow. Essentially Satan sought to redefine what Heaven was by setting himself up as a God (the one who has all power) with gaining the support of all that would ever sin or be corruptable (all mankind and uncelestialzed things.) He sought to win over the glory(honor) that intelligence gives to God the Father and redirect it all to himself as the new definition of God, knowing that we would all fit into the catatagory of fallen. Satan operates the same way today by getting individuals and nation to choose crippling dept so that there is no choice but to honor our debtors. That’s way he encourages bad and enslaving choices. God the Father’s Heaven is one in which all may receive of his power and glory. Satan’s Heaven would have been one in which he has all the glory and power because we would all feel indebted to him. God does not want us to feel debt. He wants us to experience redemption, salvation, liberty, and the perpetuation of priesthood power.

  15. ron
    February 8, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    I partially disagree with the conclusions. Satan will fool his followers any way he can to be disobedient of comandments weither it is through temptation or being split tounged. The method he has is one that takes the emnity placed by the Father and then used for wicked purposes.

    Pathalogical Altruism.

    Attend the temple again with a focus on emnity. Study all the definitions of that word before you go.

  16. Lemar Luke
    February 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    This 2012 article agrees with you Connor and apparently with Greg Wright’s book.
    http://www.withoutend.org/agency-lds-theology-misunderstood-concept/
    The definition of “agency” is so much more that simple “choice.”
    It seems odd that those feared the consequences of agency would submit to coercion to do good.
    However, removing the consequences of choices had to be appealing to those who feared failing the test of earth life, just as it is appealing to “the natural man” today.
    “Everyone gets a trophy (salvation) for participation regardless of performance.”
    Plus I like the point: “Who would need redemption if no one was allowed to sin?”

  17. John Galt
    February 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    How is “saving men in sin” compulsion or force? Who is being forced or threatened? The intelligence of the universe? God? Those who require God to follow and enforce the Law? How do you force these? How could he possibly save men in their sin?

    It seems more clear to me that Satan’s plan was similar to the politicians who have been popular and victorious throughout history (especially democratic government types). Compel people to do what’s accepted as “right” by threatening and using force when they do not (force and compulsion). The threat of force is significant enough that few go against it. Increase the threat, increase the resulting compliance. But freedom (agency) suffers.

    History is replete with examples of when force and compulsion were chosen by the masses to make the targeted subset do what is required of them. See seatbelts, drugs, vaccinations, healthy foods, insurances, etc…

    It has been and continues to be a persuasive proposal: force everyone to go along with the plan and we’ll all be safe together. Nevermind the agency that allows people to do what they think is best for them, or what may be better for all.

  18. iimx
    February 8, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    Interesting topic, but I am not understanding how judgement comes into this. If its natural law, how is there someone a judge? Its like gravity…there is no need for someone to give you a ticket for attempting to disobey, you just fall or feel heavy under its influence.

  19. Jonathan
    February 8, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Great article Connor. Let me add another take on destroying agency. Doesn’t deception destroy agency? If two wrong choices are presented to an individual as the only choices this deceives the person into a false choice. Their agency to choose correctly or right is then made powerless or destroyed.

  20. Tim M.
    February 8, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    ==Destroying the Agency of Man==

    A key word here is “agency”. In the time that Joseph Smith was translating and/or receiving these revelations, and still today, agency was/is defined as the power to act. Choice is related to agency but the words are not interchangeable.

    Will is our capacity to chose.
    It’s a capacity that predates our birth as spirit children of Heavenly Parents.
    “In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
    Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father’,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 22
    http://lds.org/ensign/1995/11/swallowed-up-in-the-will-of-the-father?lang=eng

    With “will” we choose.
    With “agency” we act.

    We were given agency in our pre-mortal life.
    Adam was given agency again in the Garden of Eden.
    A spirit has certain power to act.
    A physical body has more power to act. (A physical body can do things a spirit cannot).
    A glorified, resurrected body has even more power to act.
    More power can be exercised in each estate.

    With each birth additional agency is given.
    Man can act for himself, on his own behalf, because the power is in him. (D&C 58:27-29).
    The Father wants man to use his will to choose Him as God and use his power (agency) to do God’s work (Abraham 3:25, Moses 7:33).

    Agents act on behalf of others. Your real estate agent takes action on your behalf, in your name.
    A professional athlete is an agent for the team owner. If he acts contrary to the team owner he is kicked off the team.

    The agency of man could be understood as the assignments we had received in each estate to take certain actions – our assignments, callings to fulfill, etc.

    Satan’s plan “to destroy the agency of man, which … the Lord God, had given him” was to get men to turn away from God’s assignments and instead act on behalf of Satan. Satan wasn’t fighting against the ability to choose, he was fighting to get us to chose to follow him.

    Satan sought for us to be agents him, not God. Those who followed Satan destroyed their agency – they destroyed the role they played in God’s plan.

    ==I will redeem all mankind==

    There are clues to the doctrine and intent of Satan-

    2 Nephi 2:13
    Lehi taught – And if ye shall say there is no law -> no sin -> no righteousness -> no happiness -> no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God.

    Alma 42:13,22,25 – Mercy can’t rob justice without God ceasing to be God, and I think that is exactly what Satan was proposing.

    Moses 4:1, 3
    Satan wants the power of the Father. He wants to replace the Father and take over heaven. He wants to be a god who can rob justice. His plan of redemption didn’t require an atoning sacrifice, it would free us from punishment by eliminating laws.

    Throughout scripture Satan tells his followers the consequence of their/our actions will be different than the laws “irrevocably decreed”. (2 Nephi 2:18)

    Your rebuttal might be – “But Satan’s plan to put himself on God’s throne as a god who can rob justice wouldn’t work. The Father is operating under Celestial laws that require justice. Satan couldn’t have the Father’s power without keeping the laws the Father keeps.”

    I would say – “Exactly! Satan’s plan was only possible if he could change the laws of the universe. His plan was a lie. Those who chose to follow him were deceived – in that they chose to believe him instead of believing God.”

  21. John Williams
    February 8, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    I think that Elder McConkie would agree with the statement that Satan seeks to destroy agency by offering a lascivious life without the consequences. He wrote in the Millennial Messiah:

    “When the Eternal Father announced his plan of salvation—a plan that called for a mortal probation for all his spirit children; a plan that required a Redeemer to ransom men from the coming fall; a plan that could only operate if mortal men had agency—when the Father announced his plan, when he chose Christ as the Redeemer and rejected Lucifer, then there was war in heaven. That war was a war of words; it was a conflict of ideologies; it was a rebellion against God and his laws. Lucifer sought to dethrone God, to sit himself on the divine throne, and to save all men without reference to their works. He sought to deny men their agency so they could not sin. He offered a mortal life of carnality and sensuality, of evil and crime and murder, following which all men would be saved. His offer was a philosophical impossibility. There must needs be an opposition in all things. Unless there are opposites, there is nothing. There can be no light without darkness, no heat without cold, no virtue without vice, no good without evil, no salvation without damnation.

    And so, in the courts of heaven, the war of wars was waged. Christ and Michael and a mighty host of noble and great spirits preached the gospel of God and exhorted their brethren to follow the Father. Lucifer and his lieutenants preached another gospel, a gospel of fear and hate and lasciviousness and compulsion. They sought salvation without keeping the commandments, without overcoming the world, without choosing between opposites. And they “prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” And his legions, the legions of hell, are everywhere. They are “the third part of the stars of heaven,” the one-third of the spirit children of the Father; and they were cast out of their heavenly home because of rebellion. And so the holy word says: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath.” And he goes forth “to make war” with all men and particularly with those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 12:4-17.) And the war that is now going on among men, the war between good and evil, is but a continuation of the war that began in heaven.” (The Millennial Messiah, p.666-667)

  22. Chris
    February 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Excellent points Connor. I have felt for a while that this interpretation makes more sense. Some points to add to the discussion:

    1. Consider Moroni 7:17 “[the devil] persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one.” Depending on the intended scope and context of this statement, I think it lends extra credibility to the theory that Satan intends to “destroy agency” by removing consequences for our actions, rather than the coercion theory.

    2. To those commenters claiming that viability of Satan’s plan to save people in their sins makes no sense and would never work, that’s kind of the whole point isn’t it? Satan is a liar and doesn’t intend to sell us a legitimate alternative to God’s eternal plan for his children. He’s selling lies. His “plan” doesn’t work. (Pop culture reference: More like 12% of a plan. It’s barely a concept)

    3. Satan is the great deceiver. This interpretation of Satan’s proposal requires a different interpretation of the “War in Heaven.” If Satan’s goal is to convince the spirit sons and daughters of God that there is a way for them to be saved without consequences of sin, then it is pretty clear that this battle for minds and hearts continues on earth today. In fact, when I think of where I hear this message (salvation in spite of choices) the loudest, it is commonly proclaimed by so-called “Christians.” I think this represents the most incredible and despicable deception in history.

    Satan did not lose the War in Heaven. It continues today and it is fierce.

  23. Thomas
    February 8, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    @Kyle:

    Your understanding of the points of doctrine is keen, as is your ability to distort them.

    To say that Satan’s plan is indistinguishable from Christ’s is exactly the type of cunning deceit that Satan himself uses. Satan’s plan was “getting something for nothing.” It promised that which it could not deliver (salvation) without justice and mercy and failed to promise what Christs’ plan promised–both salvation and eternal life. Consequence of sin and growth through repentance are necessary for exaltation. Satan did not promise we could have all that the Father has. He promised us merely salvation and subjection to him and his glory. Christ not only gave the glory to the Father, but provided a way for each of us to be heirs to the glory God has.

    The scriptures are not logically flawed. They are not logically constructed. Spiritual things are discerned spiritually. Using strict logic only works if you are omniscient. Knowledge doesn’t bring about change, so God uses faith to enhance our limited capacity for logic.

    Your accusation of circular logic is weak. If we are to assume God exists and His plan is as the LDS theology claims, Satan’s failure to provide a comparable testimony of his side of the plan does not invalidate the countless testimonies given by followers of Christ. Satan testifies the same way he did in the beginning–by rebellion, deceit, hatred, selfishness, apathy, and by using partial truths to recruit detractors. There is a pretty even representation on both sides.

    Your comment ultimately does not address the topic of this article. If you are searching for truth, I would gladly welcome you and engage in discussion, but unless I’m grossly misunderstanding you, I feel that your only objective is to instill doubt into the minds of those who find happiness in the gospel. If you find no joy here, that’s fine, but what have you to gain by seeking to deride the joy others find?

  24. Coxcubomon
    February 8, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    If you don’t believe that satan cannot take away agency does not follow politics and the complexity of nations. Communism is the government of satan on the earth. If you think that those living under communism have agency you are a blind fool.

  25. Dave Chiu
    February 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    Whatever variety of deceptive reasonings Lucifer used to fool so many even as they had a measure of living in Gods presence, the critical factor is that IT WAS ALL A LIE.

    It was not just an alternate plan, but an impossibility, since we could not achieve the purpose of this creation in ignorance, and therefore REQUIRED the choices/freedom/consequences.

    It was likely sold the way oppressive deceptions are still sold — “Of course you will be fine no matter what, but all those OTHER chuckleheads are gonna need this, so the COMPASSIONATE ones like you will need to be on board…”

  26. Jeremy
    February 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    I have read a few of your articles and find your defense of Natural Rights to be generally excellent, in this case however, I have to disagree with your conclusions and historical examinations. The loss of freedoms/rights has never been more pronounced hidden and visible than at the present time, especially in the country which showed the rest of the world what true freedom can look like by actually putting into effect the ideas of Aquinas, Locke, Calvin, Smith, et al. History is replete with examples of men attempting to take over the world and eliminate freedoms through force and coercion, however the scariest of those who would dominate, would do it in the name of peace and love as exemplified by the similar, yet divergent ideas of Marx and the Illuminus Movement. Marx was incoherent and inconsistent in the Communist Manifesto, yet more successful in spreading the ideas of Socialism, or the loss of freedom in the name of freedom than any other modern day theorist. The ultimate outcome will always be what Neitzsche outlined, the rise of the uberman, because the overthrow of a government or system cannot be accomplished without leadership. There is no true base socialism, “the People” will never and can never rule themselves in a Utopian (as outlined by Moore) manner. The Bolsheviks attempted it and were ousted due to their disorginization and lack of true leadership. What replaced the Bolsheviks was the natural outcome of the vacuum they left, the rise of the uberman, which is what Hitler attempted from the beginning of his movement as he was conversant with Neitzsche’s works and ideas and had sought out Neitzsche’s sister to gain a better understanding of the theories in order to better implement them. The Illuminus Movement has had five hundred or more years to implement their goal as stated By Pierre in War and Peace;
    “Dear Brothers,” he began, blushing and stammering, with a written speech in his hand, “it is not sufficient to observe our mysteries in the seclusion of our lodge—we must act—act! We are drowsing, but we must act.” Pierre raised his notebook and began to read.
    “For the dissemination of pure truth and to secure the triumph of virtue,” he read, “we must cleanse men from prejudice, diffuse principles in harmony with the spirit of the times, undertake the education of the young, unite ourselves in indissoluble bonds with the wisest men, boldly yet prudently overcome superstitions, infidelity, and folly, and form of those devoted to us a body linked together by unity of purpose and possessed of authority and power.
    “To attain this end we must secure a preponderance of virtue over vice and must endeavor to secure that the honest man may, even in this world, receive a lasting reward for his virtue. But in these great endeavors we are gravely hampered by the political institutions of today. What is to be done in these circumstances? To favor revolutions, overthrow everything, repel force by force?… No! We are very far from that. Every violent reform deserves censure, for it quite fails to remedy evil while men remain what they are, and also because wisdom needs no violence.
    “The whole plan of our order should be based on the idea of preparing men of firmness and virtue bound together by unity of conviction—aiming at the punishment of vice and folly, and patronizing talent and virtue: raising worthy men from the dust and attaching them to our Brotherhood. Only then will our order have the power unobtrusively to bind the hands of the protectors of disorder and to control them without their being aware of it. In a word, we must found a form of government holding universal sway, which should be diffused over the whole world without destroying the bonds of citizenship, and beside which all other governments can continue in their customary course and do everything except what impedes the great aim of our order, which is to obtain for virtue the victory over vice. This aim was that of Christianity itself. It taught men to be wise and good and for their own benefit to follow the example and instruction of the best and wisest men.
    “At that time, when everything was plunged in darkness, preaching alone was of course sufficient. The novelty of Truth endowed her with special strength, but now we need much more powerful methods. It is now necessary that man, governed by his senses, should find in virtue a charm palpable to those senses. It is impossible to eradicate the passions; but we must strive to direct them to a noble aim, and it is therefore necessary that everyone should be able to satisfy his passions within the limits of virtue. Our order should provide means to that end.
    “As soon as we have a certain number of worthy men in every state, each of them again training two others and all being closely united, everything will be possible for our order, which has already in secret accomplished much for the welfare of mankind.”
    This speech not only made a strong impression, but created excitement in the lodge. The majority of the Brothers, seeing in it dangerous designs of Illuminism, * met it with a coldness that surprised Pierre. The Grand Master began answering him, and Pierre began developing his views with more and more warmth. It was long since there had been so stormy a meeting. Parties were formed, some accusing Pierre of Illuminism, others supporting him. At that meeting he was struck for the first time by the endless variety of men’s minds, which prevents a truth from ever presenting itself identically to two persons. Even those members who seemed to be on his side understood him in their own way with limitations and alterations he could not agree to, as what he always wanted most was to convey his thought to others just as he himself understood it.
    * The Illuminati sought to substitute republican for
    monarchical institutions.
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2600/2600-h/2600-h.htm#link2HCH0023
    With todays pharmaceutical and radio wave technology, the ability to control others is a reality. The CIA began a program in the 1950’s called MK Ultra whose goal was to catch up to what they were certain were the efforts of the USSR and China to obtain the ability to control the homo sapien mind. It began with the LSD experiments and evolved to become a mixture of amphetamines and tranquilizers. The NSA has been accused in a lawsuit of using MK Ultra technology along with shortwave radio waves on the American public. Two years ago at CES a holographic television was unveiled which used radio waves to activate the sensory part of the brain and revive the memory of the smell of a McDonald’s hamburger as an image of one floated in front of the viewers. As President Benson stated, the war in Heaven never ended, it just changed venues.

  27. Curly
    February 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    To quote James E. Talmage in Jesus the Christ, “Satan’s plan of compulsion, whereby all would be safely conducted through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to choose, so circumscribed that they would be compelled to do right–that one should would not be lost–was rejected;…”

    And you raise another interesting point of view that I will have to mull over. Seems there are possibilities, and maybe more than two. Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

    Satan states: “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one should shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.”

    You state: “Consider this question: if Lucifer intended to coerce obedience to God, then why did he propose to redeem us? Redemption would not be necessary under a system of compulsory obedience.”

    You are right, redemption would not be necessary under a system of compulsory obedience UNDER GOD.
    But….

    Could it be possible that Satan was not, in fact, intending to coerce obedience to God, but instead to coerce obedience to himself?

    Isaiah 14:13-14:
    13 “For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. (North referring to the dwelling of the gods according to Babylonian belief, from scripture reference)
    14: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    And if Satan was advocating obedience to and salvation through himself, there was some sort of “redemptive” part of Satan’s plan (to quote Satan himself: “I will redeem all mankind”). Although what would have entailed redemption under Satan would have probably looked different from redemption under God. We, however, are not given many more details about Satan’s plan.

    I myself can see clearly that Satan works in all ways proposed: that of deception, removal of consequences, AND compulsory obedience.

    You state:
    “Imagine Satan addressing the hosts of heaven, whether individually or collectively, in an attempt to build support for his proposal. Do we honestly believe that trillions (or more) of God’s children would get excited about being forced into compliance? Coercion naturally evokes resistance; it would be impossible to build a popular campaign on a platform of widespread compulsion. It’s almost laughable to picture Satan at a pre-mortal pep rally, shouting to the masses, “Follow me, and I will force you to be good!” It simply does not ring true.”

    I take it you have never met a Leftist, then. Listened to their dictators, their “leaders”, their “intellectuals”, and viewed their devoted and grateful followers as they work, riot, steal, lie, and murder to attain this very idea of mass coercion. Or met a person so insecure with their own agency that they do not trust it, and therefore openly prefer to be coerced into doing “right”. The world is RIFE with people that are very big fans of being forced into compliance and forcing others into compliance.

    Perhaps there is a third option. Thank you for bringing up this point, it has been great to think about.

  28. Nathan Richardson
    February 9, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    Great summary, Connor. There is a fourth ingredient of agency that I think is important to acknowledge, according to formulations by such general authorities as Bruce R. McConkie: knowledge of good and evil. If you take away people’s understanding of right and wrong, then you also impact the degree of agency they have. Two ways Satan decreases our knowledge of good and evil is “through disobedience … and because of the tradition of their fathers” (D&C 93:39).

    Several commenters above might have a clearer understanding of their questions if they remember that agency is more than just the ability to make choices. I think in many ways, it’s more the ability to make meaningful choices. For example, a computer can be programmed to make unpredictable choices based on equations with random number generators, or based on predetermined preferences or algorithms—but the computer does not have agency because the choices are not meaningful. Likewise, I might, by random chance, happen to twist a Rubic’s cube in just the right ways so that eventually the sides all have the right colors, but it’s not really accurate to say I “chose” to “solve” the Rubic’s cube. A monkey might by chance type a complete Shakespearean sentence, but it’s not a meaningful choice.

    If you retain the ingredients (1) options and (2) freedom to choose, you might have the something like the classical philosophical concept of free will. But you still lack the scriptural concept of agency if the choices are not meaningful, which is one reason you also have to have (3) consequences (i.e., God’s moral laws) and (4) knowledge of good and evil (i.e., so the chooser understands beforehand the implications of what they are choosing).

  29. tiffany
    February 9, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    I recently had a discussion where we discussed the idea of Satan’s compulsion. We decided that mind control sounded ridiculous and contrary to laws a nature. What we finally decided was that the only way Satans plan to take away our agency would work is for the consequences for sin to be immediate severe and absolute. As it stands now we can sin and do all matter of wrong things and everyone has a different outcome. For example 100 people could smoke and only 2 get sick or get cancer. Consequences are arbitrary. With Satan’s plan no one would even do small sins since they would know the outcome would be immediate and severe and everyone would have the same consequence. There is so much discrepancy in this life for each sin. With many never having any visible consequence. Satan’s plan would not have allowed for that.

  30. Mat Kent
    February 9, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    I was going to make a point but curly beat me to it.
    I think there are definitions of “compulsion” that are possibly not being considered. And I think that the likelihood that President Benson had a misunderstanding of Satan’s plan is less than the likelihood that we aren’t fully understanding President Benson’s remarks. As for the idea that there are competing ideas on the subject, another explanation might be that Satan’s plan attacks all three legs of the “agency stool”. One person’s focus on his attack on just one “leg” may seem to contradict someone else’s focus on his attack on the other two, but in the end, they actually compliment each other.
    Great article though, got me thinking about some aspects of Satan’s attack on our agency that I hadn’t considered.

  31. Corey
    February 9, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    The part so many are missing, that completes what Connor is saying here (which I agree with) is an understanding of Honor vs Glory.

    Saying that Lucifer & Christs plans were indistinguishable is not accurate at all. When you take a close look at the fact that Lucifer sought Honor, and Christ talked about Glory. They were not referring to mutually exclusive things.

    Frequently, when this narrative is repeated it is erroneously said that Lucifer wanted the Glory. We say this based upon an assumption that when Christ said “the glory be Thine forever…” that he was making a statement vis a vis Lucifer’s plan.

    But if you look back at the verse where Lucifer speaks, he talks of gaining Honor. Looking at D&C 29:36 for clarification, we’re told that Honor is God’s power, whereas the scriptures also tell us that intelligence is the Glory of God.

    Here’s where this all comes full circle. By understanding what Lucifer sought (Honor) we can understand why his plan was not just rejected because some didn’t support it, but rather it was rejected because it COULD NOT WORK. It was not viable and would lead to the entire purpose of God being thwarted.

    Think of Honor in the context of the commandment to Honor thy mother and father. God’s power (per D&C 29:36) is that all things Honor him. In other words, God’s power is based upon the character of those that honor him NOT compulsion of any kind.

    Lucifer wanted everything to honor him. His concern was less so for getting the credit, and more about having everything and everyone do his bidding.

    So, those who asked how this destroys agency? Easy. Agency requires elements:

    Choice
    Laws
    Accountability
    Temptation (opposition)

    By removing ANY of the above elements, there is no agency. SO if there is no accountability, there is also no need of temptation, and laws become merely suggestions or guidelines.

    Ultimately though the flaw in the plan is that no one develops Godly character. There is no actual change wrought, and the purpose of their creation is utterly wasted.

  32. Cody
    February 9, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    I know this post is someones opinion, but I still shake when people start to dismantle what the brethren have taught and by doing so start to invalidate their words. This is a slow and dangerous process that takes people away from listening to the leaders of the church and thinking they can’t rely on them, but instead make us think we should give more credit to someone posting on a blog about a doctrine that doesn’t even need to be fully understood at this point of our existence. We should question this guy before the leaders, but posts like this turn that process backwards. I’ve never been taught through all my years that Satan’s intention was to force us to be good, but instead was to force us to follow God. This is why satan’s plan didn’t make sense. How can we be forced to follow God and them be crowned kings due to our righteousness? You can’t force a person to give someone a hug and then claim they love the person because they hugged them! Righteousness comes from choice, and choice IS AGENCY. Satan didn’t understand the importance of choice, and whether willingly or unwillingly, his plan would take choice away.

    From LDS .org:

    “Agency is the gift to choose for ourselves.

    What Is Agency?
    Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. 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” ( 2 Nephi 2:27).Being forced to be good eliminates the “good” in the that very sentence.”

    The author of the post says that agency requires 3 things (options, freedom to choose, and consequences). But what agency “requires” is not agency itself, agency is simply “being able to choose.” Because the author thinks satan was attacking the consequence of choice he thinks he was simply undermining agency and not trying to destroy it. SATAN WAS TRYING TO DESTROY OUR AGENCY! God said it himself:

    Moses 4:3
    3 “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;”

    Not sure what “destroy” means to you, but to me it means break down, dismantle, make un-usable, doesn’t work, or simply, doesn’t exist anymore. If you destroy my house, I can’t use my house. If Satan destroys my agency, I can’t use my agency. God didn’t stutter when he said “[he] sought to DESTROY the agency of man.”

    One other thought. The author mentions that because Satan works and tempts in certain ways on earth why wouldn’t he be working the same way in the pre-mortal world, and that if God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” then why wouldn’t Satan be “the same yesterday, today, and forever?” BECAUSE SATAN WASN’T A GOD. Nor were we. we were all God’s CHILDREN, not yet perfected, not yet developed, and who were yet to be perfected through a process of change. Satan fell. He was in the councils of heaven, one of the valiant, a “Son of the morning!” He wasn’t Satan in the pre-mortal council, he was “cast down” and “He became Satan (Moses 4:3-4).” This is the dangerous process that can happen to all of us if we’re not careful.

    Let’s not have unnecessary discussion about topics that are actually clear, both from God and from his leaders. Let’s not have any reason to doubt what the brethren have said when speaking as the leaders of this church. I will NEVER let someones blog post make me question the words of apostles and even God himself, and you shouldn’t either. Just another simple and subtle way Satan works his magic to erode our faith and testimonies in ways we may not even notice.

  33. Chris Baker
    February 9, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Connor –

    I look at it like this – whether through outward force, or through the removal of consequence, in effect, the agency of man is destroyed.

    Think of the person succumbs to addiction. At that point, that person has literally lost their ability to choose. It’s like the cigarette commercial with the girl signing over her life to her addiction, at its beck and call. Satan would have us make this one choice, so as to eliminate all other choices.

    At the same time, we see efforts by Satan to eliminate the consequences of our actions – a universalist approach, almost. When I say universalist, I don’t mean it in the common “every religion has good things” philosophy. But rather, that universally, regardless of our choices we are saved. We both agree on that. This form exists, and perhaps is more dangerous because of how alluring the philosophy is.

    That said, I do see a mix of both – whatever Satan deems appropriate to the individual context – and would therefore classify these two types of agency destroying tactics as implicit and explicit.

    An explicit tactic for Satan would be something like addiction, using the cigarette model. The idea is to destroy the ability to choose outright.

    An implicit method, and as I think we both agree is far more dangerous, would be to advocate for the no responsibility model. Feel free to sin! God knows that we’ll do that! Clearly He’ll still save us, because why would a good God send us her knowing we’ll sin with no means to rescue us?

    This appealing model is pervasive in our society today, but that doesn’t mean the former isn’t. Both exist, in dangerous amounts, and Satan uses both to achieve his nefarious ends.

    It’s as you said – we must know our enemy. If we can’t identify Satan’s tricks of deception, we will end up deceived.

  34. Jennifer
    February 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Excellent post.

  35. Melissa
    February 9, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    The comments have been a pleasure to read. The only comment I would like to submit is in abhorrence to the TWO commentaries mentioning politics, particularly the references that leftists and democrats are in some way aligned with Satan’s attack on agency.

    @ Curly, John Galt and Coxubomon

    In my political science college class I learned that there are four areas of a grid that our political systems can fall: The top left being the Libertarians who strive for less government in social AND economic realms. The top right being the Republicans who strive for less government in economics, but MORE government in social areas (prohibition of gay-marriage, prohibition of abortion, etc…) The bottom right being the Populists who believe in more government regulation in both social and economic realms. And finally the Democrats who believe in more government in economic areas, but LESS government intervention in private social areas.

    I would ask that those who speak of politics know their place in this grid and the position of those whom they accuse. Leftists include both Libertarians and Dems. But consider how Democrats want LESS government in social areas, as much as Republicans want less government in economic areas. And in some ways Republicans actually want MORE government restraints and regulations. To accuse one group of being coercive and not the other is ignorant and likely fueled by media bias.

    Also, finally, and somewhat hypocritically, PLEASE don’t ruin an insightful gospel discussion with slams against political parties and the people in them. It is just as likely for a Mormon to be a leftist or a democratic person as a Republican. Rise above it.

  36. Cristin
    February 9, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    I just did a talk yesterday on this subject! I thought that we could try and change the phrase “The devil made me do it” to “I chose the devil’s plan which encourages me to not accept responsibility for my actions and to blame others.” It may not catch on. ;)

  37. Ammonihah
    February 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Just a thought. The word agent is defined as “a person who acts on behalf of another”. God’s plan, in my opinion, was to make all of his children agents who would have the opportunity to leave his presence for a time and act on his behalf. How? We are born into the smallest of universes, the family. In the family we experience creation and we are schooled in the ways of God on a small scale as we learn to have dominion in righteousness with our spouse and offspring. As we experience different aspect of life, we raise children and work with a partner to learn how agency and force work and the results of each. Over time our dominion can increase as we are given opportunities to exercise our agency in the priesthood, sometimes even having the opportunity to hold keys of administration when God allows us to do so. That was God’s plan for his children, that they would come to earth as his agents and do the work he does on a small scale so they could learn what he does.

    Just like God, I have some children that seem to be more willing to choose to submit to my will, while others kick against me at every turn. Whats interesting is the ones that kick against me often try to turn the others on me, usually through slander. They think their way is better and they want the others to go along with it so they say things that aren’t true and try to convince their siblings that their way is better and that I don’t love them and have their best interests in mind. Nothing has really changed since we got down here.

    We know that Lucifer was consumed with pride. He wanted God’s scepter and he wanted the adoration of all of creation. His pride lead to slandering a perfected immortal being and I think he truly believed that if he convinced enough of God’s children to follow him, he would have the Glory he sought after. But here is the problem. The glory of God is that all intelligences worship him without compulsion. Lucifer wanted the same, or his glory would be less than God’s. Lucifer desperately wanted the glory and he desperately wanted it to flow to him without compulsion. That is why he went around slandering God. He wanted to convince us to follow him of our own free will and choice, not force us. And he actually got a third part of heaven to give him the glory and follow him willingly which just amazes me.

    Because of slander he was kicked out of heaven and sent to the earth without a body, along with all of his new found dominion. When he got here, he set up shop right away. He established counterfeits of all the things he knew his father would do. He established a priesthood with leadership. He established churches that would worship him. And many other counterfeits were established. Why? Because he still wants all the glory, and if he can get mortals to willingly submit to him and give him that glory, he will use every means at his disposal to entrap them or destroy them. But now it is worse. He can’t leave the ones who don’t follow him alone. He not only wants God’s glory, he wants all of it. He doesn’t want God in the picture at all because he is consumed with the idea that as long as God and his dominions exist, there will be people who threaten his kingdom. So he uses every mortal weakness to create a slave class within his kingdom. Its like he says, “if you won’t follow me willingly, I will entrap you through sex, drugs, pornography, wealth, and power, until you are in bondage to me. If I can’t have you chose me through persuasion, I will entice you to use your gift of choice to become enslaved and then you will be my slave class. The lowest of the lowest in my kingdom.”

  38. Jeremy Lyman
    February 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    Just a couple of points.

    As to your argument that since Satan’s plan involved “redeeming” all mankind, “it therefore follows” that Satan’s plan was just to remove consequences because “redeeming” us must mean that we have sinned… Not so. You’ve assigned a very specific meaning to the term “redeem” based on the way we use the word with regard to the Saviour. If Satan’s plan was for him to do anything that would “save us all,” he could claim to redeem us all, regardless of what the specifics of the plan were. The point was that it would be thanks to him that we would be saved (rather than thanks to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer). Without even considering other ways in which the word redeem could apply perfectly to Satan’s plan, you’ve made an assumption as to the exact meaning of the word, which is a fallacious assumption.

    As to your subsequent arguments and questions… “Wouldn’t he be attempting to do today what he did then?” Yes. He is attempting to aggrandize himself and to lift himself up as our ruler, and to assign himself power and glory. That hasn’t changed. Consider the apostate ex-Mormon. Of course his actions have changed now that he has been cast out of the Church. I think it is perfectly logical to believe that Satan’s plan of “how” he would accomplish his ends would have changed after he was cast out.

    “Do we honestly believe that trillions (or more) of God’s children would get excited about being forced into compliance?”

    Umm.. Are you honestly asking that question? Are you familiar with your own life work? What exactly do you think you are fighting against? Out of every 100 Americans today (or any other group at any time in history), how many of them are fighting for freedom and liberty and how many are fighting for coercion? “…it would be impossible to build a popular campaign on a platform of widespread compulsion.” Again… Really? Are you honestly making that argument? Have you listened to the platform of any successful politician lately? Nearly every popular campaign is on a platform of widespread compulsion. In your “almost laughable” depiction of Satan saying, “Follow me, and I will force you to be good,” you are battling straw men. Of course he isn’t dumb enough to say it that way. And neither are modern day politicians. Of course “it simply does not ring true.” Again, straw man. Satan is very crafty, very sneaky, and very subtle.

    Prior to our mortal existence on Earth, and our exposure to the temptations of the natural man, I don’t believe that the masses wanted to do whatever they wanted and be held harmless. I believe that they wanted to do what was right, and to return to live with God. They had not yet been subject to carnal temptations. I don’t think Satan would have couched in the terms you suggested, but rather he would have told them that he would be there to make sure they knew which decisions to make, that he would safeguard them against themselves. It didn’t occur to them that this would require compulsion. After all, as far as they were concerned, they wanted to make the right decisions. It’s no different than all of the current lemmings that bow before the alter of democracy and an all-powerful government. It’s for our collective own good.

    Anyway, I’ll let you chew on those, if you will. I think those two assumptions/arguments were faulty, and completely lacking in any principled logic that would change anyone’s conclusion about the nature of Satan’s plan. I’m not arguing that his plan was one thing or another, just that those arguments don’t convince that his plan was one thing or another.

  39. John Galt
    February 9, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    Connor, you wrote: ‘President J. Reuben Clark said, “As I read the scriptures, Satan’s plan required one of two things: either the compulsion of the mind, the spirit, the intelligence of man, or else saving men in sin” (emphasis added). Questioning the former, it’s clear he was suggesting a stronger case for the latter.’

    I don’t find that to be clear. The whole context of that statement was:
    “As I read the scriptures, Satan’s plan required one of two things: Either the compulsion of the mind, the spirit, the intelligence of man, or else saving men in sin. I question whether the intelligence of man can be compelled. Certainly men cannot be saved in sin, because the laws of salvation and exaltation are founded in righteousness, not in sin”

    I don’t see this as “suggesting a stronger case for the latter”. Compare his statements on each:
    1) I question whether the intelligence of man can be compelled
    2) Certainly men cannot be saved in sin, because the laws of salvation and exaltation are founded in righteousness, not in sin

    Which case seems stronger? He questions if man’s intelligence can be compelled, but he (J. Reuben Clark) provides an absolute negation of the latter possibility. “CERTAINLY” is a strong word.

    While it is difficult for freedom-loving folks such as us to imagine someone WANTING to be forced, the idea was that we’d be compelled ONLY to do good. Since we would have forgotten all, isn’t it alluring that we would not be allowed to stray?

    Like a child who enjoys the firm grip of a parent when walking along a fast-flowing river, many of the spirits that made the choice for agency in the pre-mortal war have been swayed by Satan’s NEW scheme: compel others to do what we think is right. Satan’s obvious flaw is his desire to force the will of man. He thought he could use force to save, and now he thinks he can use force to destroy. The latter is possible, the former– less so.

    Why did his plan offer to redeem us? Because force doesn’t always work. Sure, less sin might exist because of coercion, but the rest would have to be redeemed somehow if ALL were to return. Perhaps he wasn’t willing to suffer as much as Christ. Maybe he figured that by using force, he could dramatically lessen his proposed redemption and he could still have the honor of being the savior with less cost.

    I imagine we were all troubled by the magnitude of suffering required in Christ’s plan. And many were fearful that we would be weak and cause that suffering to need to be greater. Satan’s campaign motto could be more persuasive by invoking our fears and our humanity.
    “protect us from ourselves”
    “only righteous leaders”
    “keep us safe at all costs”
    “no suffering children”
    “no genocide ”
    “no incorrect religions”
    “no one left behind”

  40. Mike H
    February 9, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    Cody gets it right on the comments.

  41. Robert
    February 9, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    You might appreciate this BYU devotional: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=932

  42. Anthony Frank
    February 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    Satan showed that he was evil when he had a choice in the premortal existence. Satan would have forced everyone to be obedient to him (Satan). He would not have forced everyone to be obedient to God.

  43. Iimx
    February 9, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    Here is something interesting. I just did a search for the word ‘grace’. Not mentioned even once. That is the mechanism that removes at least part of the ‘consequence’ part. Thats supposed to be central to christian thought, yet its not mentioned. Christians I believe are all for being responsible, but grace is an enormous part of the Christian religion.

    There are religions in the world that do not have grace as part of the formula, one must do penance for breaking an ideal.

  44. Wesley
    February 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    (i have believed for years now that there was no way to make everybody be “obedient” when right and wrong choices are before them). the interesting thing is that satan actually WAS trying to “force” and “coerce” us to do the “right thing.” by eliminating the possibility for wrong choices (i.e. giving everybody happiness regardless of what they chose), he would be forcing us to choose the right, or in other words, receive the reward that should only have come to those who became like the Savior.

    adam and eve only had agency because there was a tree in the garden that they weren’t supposed to eat from. God didn’t unlock some magical power in their brain, he simply presented a wrong choice. this choice was only wrong because there was a bad consequence if they chose it. without the bad consequence, a wrong choice wouldn’t have existed.

    in essence, satan was trying to “force” us to do the right thing by removing the bad consequence

    the reason why erika and i came to this conclusion is because there are prophets that have spoke over the pulpit in general conference, or in the ensign (both considered scripture in the open canon of scripture that is living prophecy – see https://www.lds.org/…/chapter-3-freedom-of-choice-an…)

    after reading Pres Benson’s remarks, and believing them to be true, I knew that there was some way that satan was trying to force us to “choose the right” without using the traditional sense of “force” that i think most LDS people think about in relation to satan’s plan. in fact, that kind of force doesn’t exist. for example, even if i “force” a child to do the dishes, i am not forcing anything upon them in reality. as Elder Maxwell has stated, “However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” therefore, when i “force” a child to do the dishes, is there any possible way that i can be forcing him/her to give their will to God? NOPE.

    in essence, since the only thing that we have to give is our will, then WE are the only ones that can give it. this is exactly why satan’s plan wouldn’t have worked. he was trying to receive the rewarding without giving up his own will. this is not possible.

    sorry to go on forever, but i’ve been pondering about this topic for years, and finally feel like i’m understanding about 0.01% of it. thought i would share.

  45. Matt
    February 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    The “coersion” idea isn’t necessarily wrong. Doesn’t Satan also want to put us under subjugation and bondage? Being the father of all evil, I wouldn’t put it below him. I agree with J. Reuben Clark that it could go both ways. To some the “eat, drink and be merry”idea would appeal to some, but to others who are lazy and want to do the minimum amount of self effort, letting Satan control you with a promise of salvation might be appealing. I think the conversation should be left open.

  46. DJ Manaze
    February 9, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    You make the following statement: “If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s worth pondering whether the same is true of Satan.” and then you article continues to assume that the answer is yes, and then uses that as a large basis or argument.

    However, what if the answer is no? What if Satan, just like so many humans we see, started out his existence as innocent as a newborn baby? And what if, at some point, in that innocence, he concocted a plan that he really thought would work? And what if up until the point of that plan being rejected, he was still fully innocent and well intended? And what if the moment of his plan being rejected was the exact moment of the beginning of his great fall as he chose pride and rebellion in reaction to the rejection instead of choosing humility and submission as his reaction to the rebellion?

    If such were the case, then maybe, once upon a time, long ago, in a galaxy far far away, Satan, at one point, actually did want what was best for us? He had a misunderstanding of what was best for us, and wasn’t willing to admit it after being told he was wrong?

    Even though I’m not ready to fully agree with all of the above stated, thanks for the post. It is great to think and ponder on concepts like this.

  47. jarrod
    February 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    i think a lot of points are misleading here. There are many reasons Satan was cast out… The manipulation of free agency is just one of them. Let’s not forget that Satan wanted to redeem mankind (ie step in front of the Glory of the Grace of God), so that Satan’s will would be done and that he would be glorified. This disagreement immediately ejected him and the hosts that followed him outside of God’s presence. No unclean thing can be in God’s presence. He fell. Christ always maintained that the Father’s will be done. Splitting hairs on the imperfect delivery of the plan from General Authorities… proves only one thing… you are looking to create cracks in Christ’s church.

  48. DC Morris
    February 9, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    In response to some who stated that Satan could not save them in their sins because no unclean thing can dwell in God’s presence. If we remember, Satan wanted to take the throne of God the Father. I believe this means he did not want to live by the Eternal rules that our Heavenly Father is bound by. He wanted to do what ever he wanted to do, including creating his own rules of “saving”. Even if saving in their sins. He really didn’t/doesn’t care if there is unclean in his heaven. His heaven is his rules. Also, I don’t think he wanted to be a sacrifice for us to be saved. Too much work and pain and suffering. He’s a lax, lazy, partyer. He would just waive the hand and all would be in his kingdom. Actually if you think about it he did not favor either coercion or agency which is choice w/consequence. His rules would appeal to the “free will” of man (which is weird because this is what the worldly churches teach rather than agency). Do whatever you want and say a little prayer of faith and you are “saved”. I very much agree with this idea of how Satan lured so many. And I agree that force and coercion don’t make sense as those that rebelled were more likely not to be in favor of force. Satan’s same tactics of eat, drink and be merry are still being used today. Now even the churches are in compliance in many ways.

  49. Ashby Boyle
    February 9, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    II N 2 and “enticement.”

    Without enticement there ‘s no free agency. Lucifer could use “force” by re-engineering “enticement” to involve only one choice. Removing “opposition.”

    One consequence would be the frustration of the Creation and probably (verses 12 and 14) the Cosmos or “heavens.” And God ceasing to be God.

    So Satan was lying. Just as when he says you can get anything for money.

    For a scholarly look at the details of Satan’s hopes and dreams see H Jonas, “Gnosticism.))”

  50. Steve Farley
    February 9, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    You make interesting points but I believe you are not seeing the whole picture. First, Satan is a liar and has been from the beginning. (John 8:44) That means anything he says cannot be taken seriously, even if it has truth in it because it will always lead to deception. Therefore, when he says “surly I will redeem all mankind” (Moses 4:1) he was also lying. You also need to look at the patterns in life today. If you look at societies that live under some forms of Communism, which take away freedom of choice, and options to choose from, we see part of Satan’s plan to destroy agency. He seeks to control, and he will do so in many ways. He can lead people to sin where they become bound to the sin and thus loose their agency, or he can take away their agency by force so they cannot chose and therefore they stop progressing. Either way, Satan will stop an nothing to destroy our agency and our ability to progress. I am sure there are many more ways he knows that we haven’t touched in in these discussions.

  51. George Bailey
    February 9, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    Another insight today: I wonder if part of Satan’s argument was that the risk of a Savior was too high. We take for granted, after the fact, that Jesus actually did what he said he would come down here and do. There was a moment even in the garden while he prayed and drops of blood poured down his skin, from the weight of the sins of the world, that He asked if there was another way… I wonder if there have ever been Saviors of other worlds who…. failed? Not trying to get into deep waters and contemplate that which I shouldnt but in studying the Plan of Salvation and the War in Heaven, this was an honest and open observation as to why so many of my brothers and sisters saw a flaw with Father’s plan. Perhaps in rejecting the plan, they were really rejecting Jesus. Satan made himself out to be another alternative who would not fail. I guess that is where the train of thought came from.

  52. Graeme Duncan
    February 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    Interesting article indeed! There is no reason to have evil appear in the pre-mortal existence whatsoever. The spiritual genetics of an absolutely-good Heavenly Father and Mother cannot produce spirit offspring that will have the slightest tendency towards evil whatsoever; evil can’t start in a ‘closed system’ of goodness. If we conclude that eternal ‘individual intelligences’ bring ‘evil baggage’ with them, then we have to accept that we are then ‘programmed’ for an eternity of evil or good, or somewhere in between, unless, of course, intelligences can progress – but what impetus does an intelligence have to do that in a pre-pre-mortal framework?

  53. Mike
    February 10, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    I think you’re right Connor, that a promise to “redeem” everyone was one of Satan’s lies. I also think he offered this sort of “safety” in exchange for our freedom, which is also a lie. These two lies aren’t contradictory, they actually go hand in hand. Without freedom there is no responsibility or accountability. If you were “born that way” (nature) or your “parents/society raised you that way” (nurture) then you certainly can’t be held accountable. You might get sent to a mental institution, where you get three square meals and a nice green lawn to romp on, but certainly not to prison.

    This model is all too common throughout human history–both as one that props up oppressive regimes for a promise of “protection”, and one that alternatively prompts revolution–for it to be accidental. Certainly Satan is behind the historically recurring idea that we can buy our safety (“redemption”) by giving up our freedom.

    It only lasts until the people realize that the regime can’t make good on its promises. Then we move into revolution phase. It’s a vicious cycle. Sure heavy handed governments can protect from outside threats up to a point, but we soon realize that the worst threat of all is the regime itself. The mafia was once a private police force, paid for by citizens for their protection. And that’s still what they are in a sense, only if you don’t pay the protection money your house gets burned down (“see, we warned you that you needed our protection”).

    Christ offers real redemption. He allows us to injure ourselves if we so choose, and doesn’t absolve us of responsibility when we do–by pretending that our genes or parents MADE us do it (although he does take those influences into account)–however the moment we stop running in front of buses and touching hot stoves he begins to heal us. And that’s something Satan cannot do because he neither could nor would pay the price necessary to gain the ability and knowledge required to become a healer. Knowing he can’t do that he builds cages to “protect” us and offers to absolve us of all responsibility when they break. One can neither learn nor choose either good or evil under those circumstances, but remains in ignorance. So no, he could never force us to be good (or evil), only persuade us act ignorant (under the guise of innocence). And that is damnation indeed.

  54. Robert
    February 10, 2015 at 1:37 am #

    I believe as God taught that, Love is the greatest of all. Jesus Christ entire motivation to fulfill all righteousness was entirely based on love to the father and the children of God knowing that he would be able to redeem us from a natural state to return clean in the presence of God. We needing to prove our love in the same way. Jesus also is fixated on the glory of his father remaining and raising to a greater state as he is doing this out of love for his father. Satans plan is contrary to what God calls the greatest of all (love) because he seemed to be fixated on redeeming mankind so that all glory would be given him and robbing God of his own glory as our father. I imagine because we all had agency to chose then many of us loved our father and wanted him to never be robbed of what was his and of course many who are focused on self interest and selfishness chose to follow satan is his quest to rob God. We could not prove our worth to be glorified and return to father without an opportunity to show our love for God which is the greatest of all commandments.

  55. Kevin Michaelis
    February 10, 2015 at 3:33 am #

    Dear Connor,
    I prefer my comment not to be published please. I perceive you have helped me understand scripturally, more of the design of an eternal being, once in great authority, in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son, whom Father loved, and who was in the bosom of Father from the beginning. This being would not be subject to Jesus, his whole desire was to usurp the priesthood of God and replace it with his own version, hence the teaching of a symbol representing, “my priesthoods.”
    This intransigent being, even from the beginning, spurned the powers of heaven that cannot be controlled or handled only upon principles of righteousness. In his rebellion he sought to destroy the agency of man which, if this was at all possible, would destroy the existence of all. For without agency, there is no existence.
    Thank you for opening my eyes to additional understanding of our Lord’s words regarding the ‘how’ of Lucifer’s plan. However, I am concerned with your public casting of aspersions on an apostle, or the Lord’s annointed. We covenant not to do this publicly, don’t we? This is the only downer part of your blog, which has the potential to diminish the overall goodly influence of the leaders of the church. Some only need such a nudging from a member and a public figure to dismiss them entirely. Your article can stand on its own without it.
    God bless you in all the good you do.
    Kevin Michaelis

  56. Dan
    February 10, 2015 at 5:38 am #

    It’s an interesting idea, but it is at odds with the likes of Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and others in authority, who specifically taught that Satan’s plan was one of coercion or compulsion.

    Let’s not get so lost in semantics that we lose sight of some simple truths. Let our conclusions be built on those truths and greater understanding will follow.

  57. Tapatau
    February 10, 2015 at 5:40 am #

    Elder McConkie seemed to agree with this when he wrote “Lucifer and his lieutenants preached another gospel, a gospel of fear and hate and lasciviousness and compulsion. They sought salvation without keeping the commandments, without overcoming the world, without choosing between opposites.” I agree with it. When you think about it this is how you destroy agency. No matter how much you force someone to do something they always have a choice – to obey or not to obey even unto death. The only way you can destroy agency or someone’s ability to choose is by taking away right and wrong – therefore you cannot choose between two options. When there is no wrong we cannot sin which means we will all be saved no matter what we do. That is how Satan proposed to take away our agency – by taking away our ability to choose. What this wasn’t able to achieve was righteousness which Jacob speaks about in 2 Ne 2:11-13. Who could imagine exalted beings without the discipline to control themselves or because they had never had the opportunity to choose. The words of Jacob truly would have come to pass in that our body ” must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.

    Before anyone points out the word compulsion in Elder McConkie’s quoteve therre is more than 1 meaning of the word. Compulstion means not only to force but also to act without restraint or consideration of the consequences.

  58. John joyce
    February 10, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    Interesting article and comments. Some have missed the mark. The plan we followed was our Heavenly Father’s plan! Not Jehovah’s, Satan was rebelling against our Father and HIS plan. The issue is also one of recognition of authority. Much like Nephi and his broken bow. Even though he had received revelation, he asked his Father to pray about were to find food. Following the Patriarchal order of Heaven and earth. All scriptures that give details of The Council in Heaven, do not propose that Jehovah’s had plan. Heavenly Father presented his plan, then Satan proposed his alternative. Years ago Elder McKonkie proposed that anyone teaching that Jehovah’s presented a plan, was teaching false doctrine, he then emphasized that it was, is and will always be our Father’s plan of Salvation and Exaltation

  59. Miranda
    February 10, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    I loved your perspective on this. I think your point that there are three ways to attack agency–give no choices, compulsion, or lack of consequences–is absolute truth. And I think Satan uses all of them. Here is my take on how Satan continues to use his plan of stealing man’s agency through compulsions and addictions. http://timeinthevineyard.blogspot.com/2014/08/suffering-hurt-that-heals.html

  60. Oeiras
    February 10, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    What “log” said makes perfect sense to me. Very interesting debate. As for the Kyle Alan Hale, it’s not Jehovah’s plan. It’s God the Father’s plan. One little detail.

  61. Oeiras
    February 10, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Cody, I like your comments but remember because of agency you can only control what you believe not what others believe. There are many forms of coercion. Make sure you are not using one of them. Guilting people into believing what you believe is not Christ’s way. Jeremy Lyman, you got it right.

  62. Marsha Atkin
    February 10, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Would Satan’s plan have worked? I believe ultimately not, because without consequences of our actions (your point), there would be no justice…and if no justice, then no God…and if no God, then would Satan be in charge and all in his control? Or, if there is no God, then would there be NO US? Doesn’t sound so good. I’m glad the right plan was picked.

  63. Nicole
    February 10, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I was recently reading in the Book of Mormon and thought occurred to me that the real problem with Satan’s plan was that he could not redeem us. His motives, desires, and “plan” would not make him a Redeemer. Only Jesus Christ whose motives were to bring glory to the Father and to Love Him and us could atone for our sins and therefore redeem us. Had Satan been in the Garden and on the cross he would not have been able to say as Christ did, “Not my will by thine be done” and therefore it would not have been a true atonement. He wanted glory for himself, not for God or salvation for us. So I don’t know if it matters whether Satan’s plan was to coerce us to be obedient or to save us “in” our sins. What really matters is that his attempt at atonement would have failed because he did not hold the love for us and God that was required. His love was for himself.

  64. Elizangela
    February 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Acredito que Lúcifer não acreditava que ele mesmo poderia ser salvo e sua oferta foi uma tentativa de fuga das provações na mortalidade e todos os que foram a favor de seu plano o fizeram por não acreditarem que venceriam as provações da mortalidade, estando longe de Deus e sem memória dos acontecimentos que viveram. Todos que ficaram ao lado de Cristo o fizeram por acreditar que ele seria capaz de cumprir sua missão e além da fé nele tiveram também fé em si mesmos. O propósito desta vida não é somente ganhar um corpo, estamos aqui para sermos provados, aceitamos isso e confiamos quer conseguiríamos, a fé em Cristo nos trouxe aqui, os que não tiveram fé Nele e nem em si mesmos ficaram do outro lado, entraram na batalha e perderam, foram expulsos e continuam tentando nos convencer de que não somos capazes e que não faz diferença.

  65. oeiras
    February 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Here’s a thought: For those who choose Christ, there will be NO CONSEQUENCES for their sins.
    D&C 19:16
    For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
    or in other words, God’s Plan, is that we would not have consequences for our wrong choices if we would choose Christ: ( consequence for our good choices)

    So who’s Plan are you talking about? I think understanding the Atonement is key to understanding Agency. The difference between Father’s Plan and Lucifer’s Plan is coercion versus love. Only through Christ’s love and selflessness-Atonement- can we truly be free to exercise Agency.
    So I would propose that Agency exists because the Atonement makes it possible to exist.

    What of Christ’s atonement and its relation to the pre-mortal world? Elder Orson Pratt posed an interesting rhetorical question.

    “Now we may ask, Why was the Lamb, considered as ‘slain from the foundation of the world?’ [Revelation 13:8] If there were no persons who had sinned in their first estate, that could be benefitted by the sufferings of their elder brother, then we can see no reason for considering Him at that early period, as already slain: the very fact, that the atonement which was to be made in a future world, was considered as already having been made, seems to show that there were those who had sinned, and who stood in need of the . . . atonement. The nature of the sufferings of Christ was such that it could redeem the spirits of men as well as their bodies . . . Jesus suffered, not only in body, but also in spirit. By the sufferings of His body he atoned for the sins of men committed in and by the body: by the sufferings of His spirit, He atoned for the sins committed by the spirit; hence, the atonement redeems both body and spirit. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose that if spirits in the first estate sinned, they might be forgiven through their faith and repentance, by virtue of the future sufferings of Christ.”
    Pratt (2000), 54-55. “We see no impropriety in Jesus offering Himself as an acceptable offering and sacrifice before the Father to atone for the sins of His brethren, committed, not only in the second, but also in the first estate.” Pratt (2000), 54.

    In other words, Jesus’ Atonement covers sins we committed in the pre-mortal world, as well as those committed in mortality. The fall of the “Third Part” proves that sins could be committed in the pre-mortal world. We already had Agency there. In fact we progress to various degrees according to the use of that agency.

    Is it possible that the reason why we are here is not because we chose to follow Him on Earth but because we were already following him and using the Atonement in the pre-mortal life? Much in that, the way we choose to use or not the Atonement here, will influence what will happen next.

    The Atonement is infinite so time is only a concept for us. Pre-mortal, mortal and hereafter are all a continuous present for God. People where saved through the Atonement before it was ever performed.

    I would suggest that besides other flaws of logic of your(Connor’s) argument, as Jeremy pointed out, we, you, cannot possibly understand everything. So, offering such a position on the War of Heaven, as being the only true one, is indeed a futile attempt. Does it really even matter?

  66. Nate
    February 10, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    I’m all for exploring a new paradigm, but how can an idea so unorthodox get traction from a site so orthodox: LDSLIVING? Your paradigm is contrary to the standard correlation. Countless General Authority talks have supported a simplistic understanding that Satan’s plan involved restricting agency. The Ruben J. Clark quote is a clear outlier.

    And what is the great appeal of your argument? Is it because you believe Satan is SO evil that he would never force someone to do good? Is it because you can’t imagine a life without free agency, given that our immortal spirits are supposed to have agency from the beginning?

    I think the problem is that you are taking the Plan of Salvation too literally. You see the rational holes in it, and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, if you want to smooth over contradictions in logic, you can pooh pooh the idea of Satan taking away our agency.

    But you miss so much! The LDS paradigm of Satan’s plan (no-agency) versus Christ’s plan (agency) is one of the most beautiful and compelling doctrines we have in the church. It explains so much about the difference between human nature and potential (having agency) and animal nature (no agency), and it enriches the story of the Garden of Eden and the Plan of Salvation enormously.

    Agency is the fundamental key that makes this world both an evil place, and a place of limitless potential. Christ wanted us to grow, to become like Him but we had to take on the associated risks. Understanding that Satan is the enemy of agency gives us so much insight into his methods and ultimate goals.

    If you want to understand the Plan of Salvation and the story of the Fall in some kind of ultra-historical, literal way, you will never succeed. The story is about the collision of eternal forces, laws, and natures. It speaks of fundamental spiritual truths about our identity as human beings, our agency, and our relationship between good and evil. Fussing with it simply to correct logical fallacies will inevitably diminish some of the spiritual truths being taught through these stories.

  67. Sherry
    February 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    Many people on the earth today (and in in the spirit world duing the war in heaven) would prefer what seems to be the easy way out. It would be easier to return to Heavenly Father if we were forced to do so. I believe that would have been an acceptable plan to those who followed Satan, so I disagree with that argument. It does seem obvious that Satan’s approach now is lack of consequences for disobedience, which could have also been presented in the spirit world. Perhaps his points were multi-faceted.

  68. Richard Mangum
    February 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Food for thought, indeed. Use your agency to decide which is right… but when you do, act upon your choice! Be lively in your obedience and become part of the solution, not part of the problem. Remember, you can listen to “that still small voice” and know the truth!

  69. Daniel
    February 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    Satan is the father of lies and not above misrepresenting his true intentions in order to sell people on his toxic product. Just look at the preachings of three anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon: Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor. All three men were deceived by Satan and preached a Satanic doctrine, yet their teachings were very different.

    Sherem apparently kept the Law of Moses (or at least professed to,) but denied the existence of the Messiah. He likely preached that one could only be saved by complete obedience to the law. This Satanic tactic was designed to keep the Nephites yoked to the lesser law which the Lord had determined that they were no longer in need of, binding them under the weigh of an oppressive system of carnal observances that was designed for their less spiritually advanced brethren in the Old World.

    Nehor proclaimed the liberal doctrine that God would save everyone, that there was no need for a Savior because there was no sin. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.”

    Korihor espoused a materialistic worldview exactly analagous to today’s secular humanism, denying the existence of God entirely and teaching that “when a man was dead, that was the end thereof”; consequently, “every man fared in this life [because there’s nothing else, according to him] according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.”

    So we have three different false doctrines:

    1. You must adhere strictly to the law in order to be saved.
    2. You’ll be saved no matter what.
    3. Salvation is a false concept.

    All authored by Satan, and all mutually exclusive! So the presumption that Satan’s doctrines are “unchanging” seems to be erroneous; rather, the Adversary adapts his tactics to suit the proclivities of his intended prey.

    Interestingly, we find the major components of all these doctrines in modern, authoritarian leftist movements as, respectively:

    1. Supremacy of the State and blind obedience to authority.
    2. Enforced equality via a “classless” society and forced redistribution of resources.
    3. Atheistic indoctrination.

    This supports the theory that Communism is in fact “The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil” as outlined in H. Verlan Andersen’s book of the same name.

  70. Jack
    February 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Heavenly Father’s plan involved the need for a savior and a requirement for us to follow God’s commandments by our own free choice and willingly repent in order to return to his presence and become like him. This is also known as the plan of happiness. The motive of this plan is Heavenly Father’s love for his children. It requires us to experience opposition in this life, but it is the best plan for us to realize our potential. It is not a selfish plan. Our sacrifice is a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

    Lucifer’s plan was entirely selfish and not a product of love for his fellow beings. He was a murderer from the beginning, meaning his intention is to hold us back by any means necessary in order to forever have all who would follow his persuasions be in subjection to him. Like a con man, he appeals to the greed of the mark to have it all with little or no effort.

  71. Terry
    February 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    I read this book many years ago and it resonated with me. Every totalitarian form of government has started with the” vote for me and I’ll give you this” routine, out with the old oppressive regime and in with the new free society, everybody equal, share the wealth etc.etc. Most people want something for nothing, that is the appeal, that is what politicians do all the time, then they enact laws to take from the people by force that which they cannot deliver themselves. Remember, we become subject to Satan after we sin, and when we become subject to anyone we lose our freedom to choose and them we are forced to comply, and when we reach this state, we are in bondage, we can’t break away. Just like an addition, in mortality it is not impossible to break away, but it is often difficult and painful, even if we coursed the day we ever started the addition and really want to change, for some the compulsion to self-medicate is too strong to break and the very nature of the habit forces us to continue in that path of destruction. I believe the deception was the something for nothing routine, follow me and you’ll all be saved, the actual outcome was subjection, where there is no freedom, where Satan rules over his own totalitarian kingdom of no glory.

  72. Gary Hunt
    February 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    It appears to me that there are different definition floating around for the word “agent” which only serves to confuse the understanding of these important concepts. Here are some definitions from the Oxford English dictionary.

    “agent, n. a. A person who or thing which acts upon someone or something; one who or that which exerts power; the doer of an action. Sometimes contrasted with the patient (instrument, etc.) undergoing the action.”

    Notice there is no mention of the idea of choice. The word is neutral in meaning without a qualifying term.

    “free, A. adj. I. Not in servitude to another. 1. a. Of a person: not or no longer in servitude or subjection to another; having personal, social, and political rights as a member of a society or state.”

    Notice here you have a qualifying term which adds meaning to other words such as agent or agency.

    “free agent n. (a) a person able to act freely, as by the exercise of free will, or because of the absence of restriction, constraint, or responsibilities;”

    Here you have the combination of the two words “agent” and “free” which in my opinion properly defines the concept of the gift God gave to us.

  73. Ryanlaw
    February 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    Warning, Here comes a RANT, skip it if you can’t take it. As I have watched Satan working in our culture I have to agree with Conner as to at least two of his tactics at work today. First, there being no consequences for our actions. In our “entitlement” society and politics generally the goal is to provide a “safety net” for those not willing to make correct choices who are willing to let society step in and let them avoid the consequences of those choices. Just as so many in our population today enjoy making bad choices and not suffering any consequence many in the pre-earth life bought into that shortcut also. The timely example of that is the lady in front of me using food stamps and buying steaks while I purchase hamburger, in part, because the tax on a productive citizen is offensive as I’m paying for that entitlement that allows her family to eat better than mine. Or ask your non or underemployed neighbor how many thousands of dollars he got for a tax refund that was mostly Earned Income Credit (actually his reward for not working, the result of failing to get proper training or simply laziness). The second leg of the stool being attacked is that there is no sin, so nothing to choose; I see the twist of beliefs that it is a constitutional right to sin. The legalization of gambling through lotteries, the legalization of prostitution, same sex marriage and many others, all come about from someone demanding the right to sin and being granted that right from a court somewhere. Satan is at work attacking all three legs of the stool. I find it frustrating that those demanding political correctness stifle the discussion that there is even a right or wrong that exists. The conversation has turned from the assumption that sexual relations outside of marriage is immoral (or any of the other prevalent sins we accept as a society) to one of “How dare you judge others.” Although it is not judging someone to recognize they sin, it is perceived to be judgment and anyone suggesting a sin is occurring is branded. (judgmental, racist, homophobic, etc. etc.) Regarding the days before the second coming, Satan is winning (making great strides at implementing his plan) just as the prophets have warned. The recognition of Satan’s work and how he is accomplishing it is truly helpful just as knowing the tactics of any enemy is helpful if one hopes to survive the battle.

  74. random thinker
    February 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    After reading the blog and the various and well thought-out responses, it seems to me that one would be naive to think that any single “method” would suit the adversary’s purposes. Because Satan is at times described as cunning, it follows for me that he will use any and every argument and device he can concoct to deceive, entrap and destroy man. Why limit it to your own personal perspective, he probably has other methods that work, that you don’t recognize. The variety of opinion seems to support such a conclusion since each person sees the methods and arguments that are relatable to him or her.

  75. Mike
    February 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Most people focus on the word SAVE and how Satan was going to save everyone. The key word here though is LOST. Lost referring to the Lost and Fallen State.

  76. Lee
    February 10, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    Over many years I have pages and pages of scripture study notes focused on harvesting out comments and scripture statements related to agency, apostacy and anti-Christ theology. It’s an interesting study. It is a surprising realization to see the number of passages and stories that either directly or indirectly relate to these topics woven through the fabric of the Book of Mormon, especially.
    I have always been troubled with the “force” and “coersion” statements and teachings often put forth in church writings and attributed to prophetic voices. Not so much in them themselves, but more in how we must be interpreting and applying them (wrongly for the most part in my opinion). From my youth in Primary days I have had a mental image of mankind being forced and led in Satan’s proposed plan, chain-gang style along a path toward heaven as satanic masters with whips lined the road not allowing us to escape or veer away from it.
    My conclusions parallel Connor’s, and i’ve been waiting a long time to see them put forth with a cogent display of logic and completeness.
    My take regarding the “Force” issue and trying to reconcile the prophetic statements without discrediting their sources, is that perhaps the scriptures and prophetic statements haven’t been as much misspoken as misunderstand – and that by “force” we should rather think that it was God’s hand that is forced in the issue. Afterall it was/is Satan’s plan to displace him and usurp his honor and position, without the need to experience opposition. Rather said, by changing the rules whereby there is no penalty (“all roads lead to Rome”) – and all would be saved regardless of the choices made, the “system” is forced. The irony here is that as we learn in 2 Ne 2 had any of this gone sideways, at any of a number of waypoints along the way, all would have been lost and the very creation (and us) would all have been for naught – God would have ceased to be God, and we would have ceased as well. How much more sense it makes to think of “force and coercion” as that it wouldn’t have been us that would have been forced, but it would have been God’s hands – the ‘system’ God ordained for our salvation, that would have been forced sideways. Because he wanted to supplant justine, there never was any hope or possibility that Satan’s plan would have been successfull anyway – and I think that was one of Satan’s naive points in the first place – thinking that even he may not have understood the full effects of denying justice its due. If it would have denied God His Godhood, it most certainly would have denied Satan the same surrogate privilege.
    In this regard, Satan operates by the same formula today as in the premortal era, which is briliantly spelled out by the accounts of Sheram, Nehor, and Korihor, and which is taught to us so well by all of the B of M prophets such as Nephi, Alma, Samuel the Lamanite, and many more. Idolatry is the essence of anti-christ agency-destroying ideology where man makes to himself gods that are kind to their sins by redefining sin and removing any accountability and appointing false prophets who will only tell the people what they want to hear – that they can behave how they want. And in a worst case scenario God might beat them with a few stripes but still save them in the end. In a best case scenario – no worries!

  77. Mike
    February 10, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    Let me elaborate on the post some more:

    Most people focus on the word SAVE and how Satan was going to save everyone. The key word here though is LOST. Lost referring to the Lost and Fallen State. By this, I mean the Lost and Fallen State is how we would describe it, Satan refers only to Lost. The Fallen might not have been brought up at this point.

    The lost and Fallen State causes (causation??) the agency of man, the ability to choose good or evil. Or, more specifically, it causes the ability to choose EVIL, and still return to God’s presence, provided the right circumstances…. choosing good requires no repentance. Gods plan is balanced. It arranges for both the lost and fallen state, and the necessary salvation from it. Satan’s plan was unbalanced and unjust for how can one be saved if one were not lost and fallen? The very knowledge of the plan of salvation, choosing good or evil, mortal pain and suffering, sin, death, ect., in the pre-existence might have induced agency in and of itself because it brought about things which we had no knowledge. The conversation really might have brought on responses in individuals which never existed before. Ultamtely though it makes little difference, man was given agency when the plan was unveiled, contingent upon his being lost.

    So if you now read it again with the emphasis on Lost you might see as I that Satan is offering a counter proposal to God’s plan with one up-man-ship, that not one soul shall be “Lost”. In otherwords, God’s plan was to save everyone, (and that is doctrinal) ,but contingent upon their lost and fallen state and atonement. It is after all the plan of salvation, not the plan of going to hell! The gift and experience of salvation is apparently something God wanted to give and teach beings who were likely unable to comprehend it, and mostly still aren’t.

    Too many are all about the false notion of choice. Choice (choosing good or evil) is nothing more than a result of the Lost and Fallen State and or, the plan of Salvation. They exist together and as opposites cause choice.

    Now some might point out that the word Lost is not notated in the relevant scripture passage. I would point out though that this is a conversation in the pre-existence following a plan of salvation laid out by God. How else would they be using the term Lost? Surely not in the corrupted language that we have today where words can have more than one meaning, or be obscure in their meaning. And, I doubt our scripture’s are laden with obscure words. No, the word in context of the events and conversation can only mean one thing.

  78. Terry
    February 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    Hundreds of millions of people have lived in this world without agency ( or perhaps we should say accountability). All of the children who lived and died before the age of 8, and those who matured with mentally disability could be considered lacking the knowledge of good and evil, which is a prerequisite for Agency. A person can make choices, but if he does not understand the concept of good and evil, then he can no more sin than my golden retriever can sin. It seems to me that Satan could accomplish his design by keeping mankind in a state of innocence, which by the way, is something in which he ultimately played a part. Consigning the whole of mankind to the intellect of say a Down syndrome adult would simply be an extreme expansion of a phenomenon that already occurs on a limited scale. Satan is nothing if he doesn’t think big.

  79. Allen
    February 10, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

    I would like to point out that all children who die before the age of eight are considered to be fully redeemed by the atonement of Jesus Christ. They are not considered to be responsible for their sins because they have not reached the age of accountability. It isn’t that they can’t choose what to do–they clearly do–it’s that they lack the understanding and knowledge necessary to be held accountable for the things they do. We often apply the same standard to those who are mentally disabled.

    In addition, the fruit that Adam and Eve ate was precisely the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This implies that before they ate the fruit they lacked such knowledge. If we are consistent, then they would not have been held accountable for their sins before they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge any more than children are, even if they had acted against God’s commandments.

    It is quite possible to imagine a world where spirits entered mortality and died for many generations without any of them ever reaching a level of understanding that would make them accountable for their sins. They would all be saved and none would be lost. And they would not truly have any agency, because they would never have enough knowledge to make a real choice.

    Speculation is easy, of course. These really aren’t things we know much about. I grew up in the church. I have come to understand that a number of things I believed were established doctrine are actually just speculation. There is so little in the scriptures about the war in Heaven that most ideas that are based on it are just speculation.

  80. Colt
    February 11, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    You’re missing at least one important aspect of the plan: the law of justice. God Himself obeys this law; His plan provides for it. How could Lucifer have circumvented the law of justice? The plan of salvation as laid out by the Father and supported by the Savior was effectively an exploitation of a loophole in the law of justice, but it only worked because Christ was willing to accept the punishment for our sins without actually being guilty Himself. We have to assume (and I think it’s a safe assumption) that Lucifer probably wasn’t willing to go that far to make his plan work, so unless he had a better grasp on the eternal laws of justice and mercy than the Father, he had to have a different angle.

    The primary flaw in your argument is the assumption that Lucifer, like the Father, is the same yesterday, today, and forever (a reckless assumption with terrifying connotations, I might add. Think about it). Lucifer, though perhaps of high station, was still merely a spirit, untested and unembodied. He was not (and still is not) beholden to the laws of the universe in the same way that the Father, as an exalted being, was and is. The argument falls apart after that. Whatever platform he presented, he wasn’t necessarily being honest. Whatever his plan was, he was a flatterer and probably said whatever he needed to say to get followers. Or maybe he was honest and a third of the hosts of heaven decided that being compelled didn’t sound so bad, if exaltation was the prize; that seems most likely. It’s fairly obvious from evidence in this world that man is more than capable of using his agency to give up his agency. And that’s all Lucifer would need to make compulsion work.

    Whatever means Lucifer had in mind to accomplish his plan, it certainly wasn’t a feasible ploy to somehow get around the eternal law of justice, because that simply isn’t possible. But he must have had a plan that could have worked to accomplish his intention; otherwise he wouldn’t have constituted a threat to man’s agency, and there would have been no war in heaven. The Father would not have conducted such a war unless it was truly necessary.

    In short, the “compulsion” argument is much more likely, though other feasible explanations may yet be discovered or revealed; but the “redeem man in his sins” argument falls apart in the face of the law of justice, which is eternal and cannot be so easily circumvented.

  81. Mark L. Jones
    February 11, 2015 at 2:30 am #

    The Plan of Happiness is God the Father’s Plan and hence, it is also Jesus’ Plan. This is not God’s first rodeo – he’s done this before. His plan IS THE ONLY WAY to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man – which is his work and his glory. The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated neither can they come to naught. The first born of God in the world of spirits is Jehovah (Jesus Christ in this life – our Savior). Jehovah was God’s beloved and chosen from the beginning. Why was he chosen, because he was the ONLY one that could and would do all the Father required of him. The plan perfectly balances the two eternal laws of Justice and Mercy. In order for us to have a fullness of Joy we must know/experience the antithesis of Joy – sorrow/death etc. The gospel plan is the Plan of Happiness. As part of this plan, a Law was instituted before the foundations of this world – its the Law of the Gospel. In order for us to advance, it was necessary for us to be tested to see if we will do all things whatsoever the Lord our God should command us. This earth was created for that purpose by Jehovah. Agency was given to us in the per-earth life – God calls it “Moral Agency”. In the giving of this right/privilege, there are two aspects: “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.
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:78)

    The term “moral agency” implies that we were given things to do and we received these things by covenant before the world was. “And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was?
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 132:11)

    God cannot exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men. The plan requires that man know both good and evil and be persuaded/enticed by the one or the other. If man transgresses the law, the demands of justice must be met. The punishment is Death both spiritually and physically. Adam and Eve transgressed in the Garden and brought death into the world. Because of this, the plan provides a Savior – Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ answered the demands of justice in our behalf if we would repent. He also gained victory over death in our behalf. It is only in and through the Savior Jesus Christ that we can come back into the presence of the Father and have eternal life.

    Lucifer was also in the beginning – he came before God and said “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 4:1)

    Perhaps this is not the first time Lucifer has sought a lofty position in the plan. Perhaps over in Abraham 3 it was Jehovah still speaking when he asked “Whom shall I send” to be the first man on the earth – this would be the second highest position to the Savior’s highest position in the plan. Michael was chosen and Lucifer was rejected and angry. Then Lucifer tried to usurp the Savior’s own position in Moses 4.

    Look at what he is saying, “I” will be thy son (not Jehovah) – “I” will redeem all mankind (not Jehovah) – and surely “I” will do it (not Jehovah) and if “I” am allowed to do it my way – one soul shall not be lost and “I” will need thy Honor/Power to do it. This was rebellion. This is eerily similar to the way Cain fell – his offering was rejected while his brother’s was accepted – he was angry – he rose up against his brother and killed him – he rebelled against God.

    How absurd, brazen, and brash this was. To come before the Father and tell him his plan is flawed and your plan is better. This act of Lucifer (unwittingly) was the final piece of the Father’s plan that could now be put in it’s place – OPPOSITION. Michael and his angels fought against Lucifer and his followers and Michael prevailed – Lucifer was cast out into the earth to tempt man – all part of the Father’s plan.

    It goes without saying that Lucifer’s plan would not work – there would be no Savior – no plan of Mercy – man would transgress the law and Justice would condemn ALL the souls of men to DEATH. And what of Lucifer’s plan? He sought to destroy the agency of man – why read into it more or less than it says? Whatever Agency is, he sought to destroy it – ALL OF IT!!!!! Compulsion, dominion, control upon the souls of men is the antithesis of how God exists – Lucifer is Anti – God and Christ – so – VOILA – that was his plan. As for the selling of the plan to his followers, it will be easy and EVERYONE WILL MAKE IT!!!!!
    You see the “GOOD INTENTION” – you catch a lot more fools with the “GOOD INTENTION”

  82. John
    February 11, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Great article. Obviously, we don’t know 100% one way or the other what his plan truly was as there have been various scenarios postulated by different general authorities over the years. However, I’ve long felt that the scenario presented in this article and in McConkie’s works (quoted in some of the comments here) seemed the most likely–that Satan would seek to destroy our agency by allowing all to live with no rules (no rules–no sin–no wickedness).

    I think 2 Nephi 2 provides the most compelling argument for this. I encourage everyone to read this chapter and give it some thought in the context presented by Connor. Verses 4-10 outline Heavenly Father’s plan beautifully. A law will be given, and men will be sufficiently instructed on the law. They will know good from evil. All will sin, so they will be cut off from God’s presence, but may be redeemed by a Savior:

    “5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

    6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

    7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

    8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

    9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

    10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement”

    The next set of verses (11-17) seem to speak to Satan’s plan–an alternative that would have had severe implications and would have likely broken some very eternal laws and would have justified a war in heaven:

    “11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

    12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

    13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

    14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

    15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

    16 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.

    17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.”

    Verse 13 is the key–with no law (go ahead and do whatever you want!) there is no sin–we would all be blameless. No individual would be lost–all would be saved. There would be no punishment. And God would cease to be God. This part in particular is interesting to me–is this equatable to Satan’s desire to take God’s glory?

    Verse 16 outlines that without a knowledge of good and evil we would not have agency. This doesn’t seem to speak to coercion–instead, it seems to further support the notion that agency can be eliminated by eliminating knowledge of good and evil, which is easily done by defining nothing as good or evil–everything is just action. Eat, drink, be merry for tomorrow we die. No consequence, no law, no lost souls… But no happiness and no progress.

    If you look at the multiple anti-Christ’s in the Book of Mormon, they all seem to teach variations on this theme.

    Some food for thought.

  83. Brad
    February 11, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    “…when you compare his pre-mortal proposal to his actions today. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s worth pondering whether the same is true of Satan. Wouldn’t he be attempting to do today what he did then? Nobody believes that Satan is trying to force us to obey God today; why do we believe he attempted it eons ago?”

    I don’t think we can compare Satan to God! God is unchanging because he is God. Satan was and is just a spirit, this law does not apply to him. He was just like us. He could have changed. He could have gone on to progress and grow. but he made choices that forever stopped his progression.

    He was a son of the morning, the heavens wept over him when he was thrust down. (D&C 76) Satan had been one of us, a follower and child of God and chose to disobey Heavenly Father. Because of this he was cast from heaven. This shows us that Satan was very much unchanging. He was once righteous, but fell. Satan is not the same yesterday, today and forever.

  84. Philip Warkentin
    February 11, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    I’m not sure if someone mentioned this already, (me not having read all the comments) I agree with what has been said but consider that Satan never said that he was going to make the children of God obedient to God, but that they would be obedient to himself (Lucifer), which even today means doing pretty much whatever the he** you want and please don’t forget that whatever the case was there that he was only trying to take Father’s glory. Having grown up in the church my understanding has always been just that.

    That Satan wanted to take away our agency or in other words, our ability to fail, and fear of failing has motivated mankind to great and terrible things. So understandably 1/3 of our once brothers and sisters felt that way as well and were dissuaded from joining us here.

  85. Rachel
    February 11, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    The first rule about Satan is: That he lies.

    I personally believe that, though Satan may have built his platform on the “no consequence for our actions” idea, he did not understand the eternal law of agency. In order to choose right from wrong, there HAS to be a consequence. This is reflected in physics when they refer to everything having an equal and opposite reaction. I think that the two-thirds that remained true to Heavenly Father realized that the ONLY way that he could promise that he could bring us all back was through compulsion of will.

    As to him referring to being the redeemer of mankind, I think that this was a lie to continue to gain support from his followers. A bit like, “See? My plan is similar to Father’s, but we all come back. Follow me!”

    If you want to “know your enemy,” think of him as he is – a politician – not as an honest being to be taken at his word.

  86. Kris Bacheller
    February 11, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    Sometimes one hears an idea that “feels” right. It is supported by personal experience and one’s own consequences. It stands to reason that Satan would continue to use ideas that appeal to us in order for each of us to cause our own demise through consequences. He is the Father of All Lies. He need not force, he makes sin look enticing, fun, TEMPTING. Then we are convinced we won’t have consequences if (1) we are not caught; (2) someone else takes the blame; (3) we don’t believe what was done is “wrongdoing”. All of these reasons are used to cover sins on a daily basis. It makes sense that this same proposal is exactly what appealed to our spirit brothers and sisters in the premortal existence. It would be tempting to believe that we can sin and avoid the punishment. It is still the snare that fills our prisons and breaks hearts today. Thankfully, the Atonement is an honest and available balm for all who sin, and we can embrace better choices after. The pathway to hell is not paved with spike strips. . . it is paved with ideas that confuse, actions that harm, validations that avoid blame and consequence.

  87. Kimberly
    February 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    I Read the article. It was ok but never mentioned opposition. There would not be moral agency(free agency does not exist in scriptures. Look under topical guide) if there was no opposition. We were free to choose as spirits but did not understand certain laws until we could experience it. We had to come down, know the difference, know the consequences of choice and then make a decision based on our knowledge. There is no sin where there is no knowledge, hence Adam and Eve transgressed because they didn’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. It is sin that causes a soul to be lost. How can he sin if there is no opportunity?
    Three great talks on this subject were given at BYU devotional addresses (Ludlow, Oaks, Christofferson). I feel that Satan wanted to take away opposition. The ‘furnace of affliction’ is the battle we expected when we ‘shouted for joy’. This was our proving ground. No wonder 1/3 were fearful of taking the plunge. Satan now uses all the legs of the stool to take away our moral agency (don’t get moral agency confused with freedom). James E Talmage said “But for the opportunity thus given, The spirits of God’s offspring would have remained in a state of innocent childhood, sinless through no effort on their own; negatively saved, not from sin, but from the opportunity of meeting sin; incapable of winning the honors of victory because prevented from taking part in the conflict. ” I have loved reading everyone’s comments. For the most part they have all been uplifting. How wonderful it must’ve been, yet terrifying in the council in heaven. We obviously were given our choice because a vote was taken. So many must have express their views on the subject. I have gleaned from each one of you. Thank you!

  88. Alan Martin
    February 11, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    This is totally my speculation, but I do not see Satan conducting himself in the same manner as he would have prior to mortal life for the family of Adam. In the pre-mortal realm, Lucifer may have thought he had a chance to appeal to the masses and get them to support his plan. Following him being cast out of Heaven, I doubt Satan sees any chance for his plan to be implemented. Christ was the Father’s Son, and the Father’s plan was put into action. Satan isn’t going to get any of the Father’s glory nor power. So why would Satan continue in that effort? In my opinion, it is far more likely Satan is acting out of revenge. By tempting people away from following Christ, he denies the Father the exaltation of his children while simultaneously exercising revenge on those who opposed his plan (the presumption being if you have a mortal body than you opposed Lucifer’s plan). There is little war on agency; the Father put that into motion and through agency people grow spiritually or decline spiritually, regardless of Satan’s temptations and influence. Since Satan has not power to force us to disobey God, the fault of the choice lays with the individual.
    While I think the points in this article are refreshing and interesting, I’d like to point out that freeing people of the consequence of their actions doesn’t alter agency. The wicked here who get away with (at least temporally) their wrong doings still have plenty of agency. They can still repent and try to change and atone for wrong doings, or they can continue to do wrong or refuse to obey God. I also doubt that our understanding in the pre-mortal realm allowed anyone to believe a position of Godhood could be maintained by the wicked, as the scriptures are quite clear that if God doesn’t adhere to Celestial Law, he ceases to be God. I suspect that truth was self-evident in the herebefore.

  89. Kimberly
    February 11, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    I totally agree with you, Alan, on Satan’s tactics here on earth. I just didn’t want to take the time to explain. You put it very nicely! We have the freedom to choose whatever spirit we ‘listeth to obey’. Thank you!

  90. Dennis Decker
    February 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm #

    @George Bailey

    I believe you are correct that one of the major challenges Lucifer made to God’s plan was that it required a perfect, sinless sacrifice. He likely accused Jesus of not being good enough to fulfill that role.

    We had to believe that Jesus Christ could and would actually offer himself as a sinless sacrifice–a standard that none of the rest of us could reach on our own. If he failed, we could not be saved. In order to choose to follow God’s plan we had to have faith in the perfect integrity of Jesus Christ, i.e. that he is a God of truth who cannot lie.

    This same faith is what allowed Enos to experience forgiveness even before the Atonement had been wrought. And a sure knowledge of the integrity of God made it possible for the Brother of Jared to enter his presence and be redeemed from the fall (see Ether 3).

    In revelations 12: 11, we read that those who overcame Satan in heaven did so by “the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

    We had to have faith that Christ would and could keep his word. And our faith is vindicated because he “drank that bitter cup,” and “suffered the will of the father in all things from the beginning.” (3 Nephi 11: 11).

    Great discussion. I appreciate all the thoughtful comments.

  91. Carlin
    February 12, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    I agree with most of your conclusions, however, in observing recent and even current history, it is apparent that one of Satan’s chief mechanisms truly has always been and is the total removal of the freedom to choose. Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot and many others of Satan’s chiefest emissaries while in mortality (including many in our own govt in the present time who would do the same), sought (and in many cases totally achieved) the total removal of the right or ability to choose–except for choosing life-or-death–“choose what we say–do what we say to do, or die”. So to say that Satan didn’t want to remove the actual choice, is incorrect, in my opinion–these bad guys didn’t come up with all this on their own!

  92. Timothy
    February 12, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Ezra Taft Benson said that Satan required obedience, he did not say that Satan’s plan required us to be good.
    For example: It is Satan instigated for a religion to require conversion to their faith at the peril of death. This is an example of obedience not of being good.

  93. Dennis Barrett
    February 12, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    One of the ways that “Agency” and “the great plan of salvation would be frustrated” by allowing us to choose without consequences, is that WE must learn by making choices, making mistakes, and learning from mistakes, that by aligning our will with commandments or natural laws of happiness we begin to think like and have the same feelings that our Father in heaven has. It is this process that completes the change into becoming like him. If we are not held accountable for mistakes we do not learn, we do not grow, we do not change. We could never fulfill the plan of happiness if we did not change.

    We see it all through the world today. When people think rules do not apply to them, they do not change. They become dependent, they become more and more self centered, and can not become a loving Father like our Father in Heaven.

  94. LB35
    February 12, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Why does the “force you to be good” interpretation have such strength? Because Ezra Taft Benson used that interpretation frequently, as did other apostles from the 1950s through his death. However, in a priesthood meeting just last week one person pointed out that this may have been the Cold War mindset which was prevalent at the time during his early days as an apostle. In a way, his political views against communism were mixed with the scriptures. He often used the analogy of communism to teach about Satan’s plan. I suspect if you looked at all the writings of apostles and prophets on the War in Heaven prior to 1930, you would find little of the “force you to be good” language.

    There are lots of misconceptions about the War in Heaven that I have heard. One is something this essay repeated, that Satan wanted to save everybody. This was a lie; he is the Father of All Lies and I believe this was his first lie. He second lie was that his plan could save us. Another misconception is that alternative plans were sought; that the council was a brain storming session. In reality, the plan is an eternal plan and all exalted beings must live according to this plan, which requires living by faith in Christ. (Otherwise, you might have different rules for becoming exalted in different parts of the universe. Wouldn’t we then all have a right to pick which plan we wanted to live under?) It was not Christ’s plan, it is God’s plan. God presented it and said Jesus was the only one who could be the Christ. Lucifer rebelled by offering his own plan knowing that without agency we do not be able to have faith, thus not satisfying the requirements of the plan. Everyone would have been damned under Satan’s plan. He knew it, and that is what he wanted because he sought all the glory to himself even to the point of causing God to cease to be God, to be the only God in the universe.

  95. Gary Hunt
    February 12, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    LB35,

    You bring up an interesting concepts which have some truth to them. However you will have to go back further than the 1950’s to understand the views against communism, of the church leaders. Specifically the 1840’s-50’s when John Taylor was head of the European missions. He saw the spreading of the philosophies of socialism and communism which Marx and Engels were promoting. He shared this information with the brethren (including Joseph Smith) back in the U.S. and also wrote and vigorously spoke out against these philosophies and explained how they violate the principles of “free agency”.

    Many church leaders spoke out against these philosophies (communism and socialism) during the entire history of the church. What the person in your priesthood meeting said about the “Cold War mindset” was an observation which probably reflected a peak in reference to socialism and communism by many of the church leaders during the Cold War period. However, again it was not a new phenomenon. Also the concept of “force you to be good” goes further back than the 1930’s. The early leaders also understood the other ways, in addition to regular force, that our free agency is destroyed. What is being said here is not new. These ideas are just starting to be resurrected for our current generation.

    Simply put, Satan uses mind control to destroy our ability to make choices according to our free will (agency, free agency, moral agency or what ever is politically correct in the church today). He may use tyrants to use physical force or he may use very subtle means such as providing us with information which may lead us off course as little as a fraction of 1% from the truth. You know, the old “one-hundred truths to get us to believe one lie” scenario. He uses any of a infinite amount of variations in between.

    Just some food for thought.

  96. B W
    February 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I notice that a lot of commenters seek to refute Connor’s argument by simply citing Church leaders. I suppose if we assume that everything the prophets and apostles say is unquestionably true, then these comments might be relevant. Note, however, that one of Connor’s main premises is that, during this dispensation, there have been many contradictory “prophetic” and “apostolic” statements on the topic—i.e., there is no consensus.

    So, though it’s pretty clear the *typical* LDS notion of Satan’s proposal involves force and coercion, it seems a rather tenuous position to simply say “Well, President So-and-so said that Satan wanted to force us to be righteous.” Connor isn’t alone in saying there’s no authoritative consensus on the topic—notice that he included a link to official Church material that essentially makes the same claim.

    I’m not necessarily sold on the argument that Satan’s plan lacked a ‘force’ element, but to the extent I wanted to use General Authority quotes to argue Connor’s point, I think I’d have to phrase it as more of a “I tend to agree with President S0-and-so, who said ___________ ,” which I would then follow by laying out some line of reasoning—other than an appeal to authority—to support my agreement.

  97. Greg
    February 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm #

    Your argument fails on the premise that Satan is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His plan is false, therefore he changes it like the wind, finding anyway to deceive those that might follow him.
    God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, because he is perfect and his plan is perfect.

  98. Brian
    February 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    First, it seems an appropriate reminder it is Heavenly Father’s Plan and two, that Satan never ‘presented a plan’. He only proposed to modify 2 elements of the plan; how the redemption would occur and who would get the glory.

    My own personal sense is that Lucifer was not interested in subjecting himself to any of the sufferings the Savior endured. He wasn’t interested in hanging on a cross, whatever of that was known. I expect that Satan did not really understand the plan. He thought he could derail the Plan by tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden. But that did not derail, but perpetuated the Plan. That to me alone suggests that he did not understand Heavenly Father’ Plan.

    Trying to apply logic to a being who was jealous of his older brother and sought to steal away glory from God is not worthy of that investment. Satan did not present a plan. He was hoping that He could get the job without having to do the hard stuff, and he failed. Whether he knew that people could not be saved from their sins without sacrifice, I don’t know. ‘Redeem’ likely meant something different to him than we understand it to be. Either way, he lied. He could not do what he said he would do, because the Plan was not designed this way. The plan was full and complete and would only work as designed.

  99. B W
    February 12, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    @ Brian: It’s definitely true that it was Heavenly Father that presented THE plan. But was your comment in response to mine, where you noted that Satan never ‘presented a plan’? I couldn’t find anywhere else on the page where anyone argued that Satan “presented a plan,” though I did refer to “Satan’s plan.”

    In any case, I can agree that there is a general misunderstanding about the Grand Council; specifically, there are those who think Heavenly Father invited suggestions, as if He shrugged His shoulders and said, “What should we do?” Yes, Heavenly Father presented THE plan, then asked who He should send to be the the Savior required in that plan.

    But I think you equivocate when you argue that “Satan never ‘presented a plan’. He only proposed to modify 2 elements of the plan.” I have to disagree with you, and I question how you could claim that Satan’s proposal was not truly an alternate “plan”? Everything about what little we know is strongly indicative that Satan had a plan. Father’s question was “Who shall I send?” Jehovah humbly responds with his willingness to go. Then, Satan responds not just with an offer to go, but a proposal that would turn Father’s plan on its head: he would save every soul by robbing them of agency (whatever that might mean) and—as a reward for this accomplishment or perhaps as a practical necessity for what he proposed—he would change the government of heaven by sitting himself upon God’s throne.

    What Satan offered was far more than his candidacy. The very debate of which this article speaks suggests that Satan had a plan; the question—which Connor’s article seeks to answer—is “what were the details?”

  100. B W
    February 12, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    @Brian: I can appreciate the statement that “Satan never presented a plan” insofar as it’s meant to bring attention to the fact that Heavenly Father didn’t ask for a plan (indeed, there’s a lot of confusion on that). We know that our Father presented THE plan and asked whom He should send as the Savior required as part of that plan. But I think it impossible to unequivocally make a comment like “Satan did not present a plan.”

    Surely what Satan presented was more than merely his candidacy; it was an alternate “plan.” While Jehovah simply and humbly answered the Father’s question, Satan did something much different: he proposed that he would save every soul by taking away agency (whatever that might mean) after which he would—as a reward for that accomplishment or perhaps as a practical necessity for his proposal—change the government of Heaven by sitting himself upon God’s throne.

    While I understand and acknowledge that Heavenly Father held the Council in Heaven to reveal His plan, THE plan, I cannot agree that “Satan did not present a plan.” It seems to me that the only question—which Connor’s article attempts to answer—is “what were the details?”

  101. Tcmd
    February 12, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    Re. Original article: Your interpretation of scripture is accurate, but incomplete. Your next step is to figure out how the things the brethren said about compulsion are compatible truths.
    @BW the Father did not ask for volunteers. He presented a plan and it included Jesus Christ as savior from the beginning. It is instructive to remember whom Satan addresses when he proposes his plan initially.

  102. B W
    February 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    @Tcmd: I have no doubt that Heavenly Father, knowing the end from the beginning, knew whom He should/would send as our Savior. I’m unclear, though, what is the basis for your response to my comment. I said that Heavenly Father asked “whom He should send as the Savior.”

    How do you interpret the Father’s question, found in Abraham 3:27: “And the Lord said: Whom shall I send?”

    I didn’t articulate the scene as a call for volunteers—though some might interpret the scripture as describing just that; in any event, I think my comment is scripturally sound.

  103. Stephanie Morgan
    February 13, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    Some departures from logic:

    “This becomes a logical understanding of Satan’s strategy when you compare his pre-mortal proposal to his actions today. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s worth pondering whether the same is true of Satan. Wouldn’t he be attempting to do today what he did then? Nobody believes that Satan is trying to force us to obey God today; why do we believe he attempted it eons ago?”

    — This paragraph has flawed reasoning: 1) Ot does not follow that “changeability” which is a carnal trait could not follow Satin. 2) Satin is the great deceiver and this paragraphs makes assumptions that he portrayed his intentions openly and honestly which is likely not the case. The arguments of persuasion he made to get the children of God to trust in his “salvation” could of been as varied he is today.

    This paragraph too has some flawed reasoning:
    “Imagine Satan addressing the hosts of heaven, whether individually or collectively, in an attempt to build support for his proposal. Do we honestly believe that trillions (or more) of God’s children would get excited about being forced into compliance? Coercion naturally evokes resistance; it would be impossible to build a popular campaign on a platform of widespread compulsion. It’s almost laughable to picture Satan at a pre-mortal pep rally, shouting to the masses, “Follow me, and I will force you to be good!” It simply does not ring true.”

    1) Many Humans in this world have risen to power with the intent of destroying freedom of choice through coercion and force, and risen to that power by the “will of the people” — or at least by exploiting effectively the grievances of a third of the people and subverting the governance by means of deception. — And again the above paragraph assumes Satin was honest and forthright about his so-called “plan,” which in reality was no plan at all but a great lie and trap.

    The author defines the “only” environment where Satin has success as being one of moral relativeness where, “people “seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way.” However, this is not the only environment in which he has had success. It may be his tool for America in our time, but he has subverted religious and devout people in many faiths, making coercion and fear a tool among the “faithful” to prevent the religious inclinations of God’s children. i.e. Radical Islam, perverted Christianity in medieval times. In these cases harsh coercion of religious tenets subvert God’s plan for agency.

    “Satan wanted to save everybody, regardless of their choices.” — Maybe so. Perhaps it was his first desire or intention, we can’t know for sure, or perhaps he cares nothing for “salvation” and only for his own place of importance. Perhaps he desired for himself that position as first in God’s eyes, the power and glory, the ability to do his will over the Fathers. Perhaps he cared nothing for the “welfare” of his brothers and sisters and would use any effective means to deceive them into subverting Heavenly Father’s plan that he might gain power. This is what we see among the tyrants of this earth, the atheist and the religiously devout kind.

    “Resisting Satan requires knowing he exists and how he operates.” — TRUE, and along with that not making faulty assumptions about his motives or limiting our view of his diverse and changing tactics as he works on people and peoples varying circumstances and weaknesses.

    As a whole suggesting that Satin attacks the third leg on the stool of agency, accountability, is not a hidden doctrine or even a misunderstood or under emphasized doctrine. It is however faulty to say that that leg of the stool is his only or primary target. It is faulty to say that we know Satin’s one and only motivation, or his true motivation

  104. bostonminishell
    February 13, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

    I think there is a fourth leg to the agency stool: understanding. Those who don’t understand aren’t held accountable.

    It’s important to note that great salesmen will use the tactics that best suit his audience. It isn’t hard to imagine that some of the third of the hosts of heaven could have gone for the force everyone to be good thing. Think about the benefits that might have been presented with that idea: we don’t lose a single soul and no one gets hurt along the way. Plenty of governments have made similar proposals and have had some amount of support.
    We have to remember that satan is the author of ALL sin and that he will present whatever proposal will most likely take a person off the path.

  105. Mike
    February 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    C’mon guys! is nobody going to acknowledge or respond to my post above that “lost” is referring to the Lost and Fallen State?

    Lost might be referring to the fact that we cannot remember our earlier estate.
    Adam and Eve were Lost because they couldn’t remember and were in a state of innocence. This is what gave them agency, what gave man agency to act. If they could remember their prior estate, they would have no honest choice. Satan’s plan therefore was to save all by having man know their prior estate which would have precluded a unbiased, genuine ability to chose. Take this away and you damage genuine opposition. Adam and Eve would have never eaten the fruit. And if they did eat it, they would have done so knowing that they were supposed to. That isn’t choice to act then is it?

    2 Nephi 2:16
    “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.”

    On the other hand it sound like Adams transgression caused the Lost state:

    2 Nephi 2:21
    “And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.”

    Either way, this is the situation that Satan sought to deny man, a Lost state. But this situation is one that God wanted:

    2 Nephi:
    22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

    23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.”

    But choice itself is not really the subject here, or shouldn’t be. The real subject is the power and glory Satan was seeking to obtain. This sounds to me like the pharisees that tried to essentially save themselves by strict obedience to the law. The law gave them something to act upon by which they could glorify themselves in their own eyes and those of others.

    God’s plan is not one of promoting self-glorification. And although the lost and fallen state is a component of the plan, it is not the purpose either. The purpose is the Atonement, or in fine, the intercession to save man, and to be saved. This experience is the purpose. This is what Satan got wrong.

    2 Nephi
    “9 Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.
    10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him.”

    2 Nephi 2:27
    “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they 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; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”

    2 Nephi 2:15
    “And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man ”

    I close with this scripture where Lehi tells Sam how he knows he is redeemed.

    2 Nephi 2:3
    “Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.

  106. Nkey
    February 13, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    I think the article should actually be a wide misunderstanding of satan, period.

  107. Joe Evans
    February 13, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    Dan wrote: “It’s an interesting idea, but it is at odds with the likes of Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and others in authority, who specifically taught that Satan’s plan was one of coercion or compulsion.
    “Let’s not get so lost in semantics that we lose sight of some simple truths. Let our conclusions be built on those truths and greater understanding will follow.”

    Well said, Dan. All the speculations in this thread are nice, I guess, but I fail to see the purpose in such a discussion. What does it matter what Satan thought or what his plan would have been? It’s all redundant when we keep in mind the simple truths given in the scriptures, coupled with what the Brethren have said.

    To me, the topic of the article was redundant in itself, because we already know enough of what happened in the preexistence, and the plan of salvation seems adequately explained in the scriptures. It all seems to boil down to this: We would have a choice to choose good over evil, or we would not be given a choice. We already know which one we have.

    In my opinion, this article is much like a question searching for an answer that we already have. We have the gospel, we have our agency, and we understand Satan’s roll in God’s plan … which, ultimately, if for our eternal benefit by providing that require “opposition in all things.”

  108. Bah! Ack! Oh, bummer!
    February 13, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    While the theory proposed in the article is interesting and possible, I must take issue with some aspects of the author’s approach which, in my opinion, demonstrate either folly or dishonesty:

    1. Redefining agency: I believe that “agency” already has a simple and clear definition and that the author’s attempt to twist its meaning to fit his theory is misguided, at best, and dishonest, at worst. Its latin root word means “to act”. Agency could also be written as “actibility”, or “the ability to act”. Destroying man’s agency is simply destroying man’s ability to act. Looking at Moses 4:3 in this light points to President Benson’s understanding.

    2. Timing: The timing of this article, to match the priesthood lesson that we all would’ve received this month on this very subject by President Benson, seems designed to cast doubt upon the authority of President Benson’s words, just as we’re getting underway in a year of receiving instruction from him. It’s as if the author is trying to ready the minds of the people to reject President Benson’s authority or at least to make them ready to doubt anything that he says for the rest of the year. To be honest, the way that the liberal operators of LDS Living pounced upon this opportunity to cast a cloak of doubt over President Benson for the year is very telling and typical of them.

    3. Satan’s M.O.’s in this world: To only point out one of Satan’s methods of operation–that of convincing people that there will be no consequences for sin–is a very limited view. One must also consider the fact that Satan, through the establishment of kingdoms, socialism, communism, collectivism, enforced catholicism, etc., has destroyed the agency (in the true Latin definition of that term) of millions upon millions of people on this earth, throughout history. These forceful systems could very easily be reflections of what Satan was proposing before.

  109. Debrah Roundy
    February 14, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Very interesting material to think upon. Thank you to the author.

  110. Mark
    February 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    Two thoughts, I hope I am not repeating what has already been said. The institute manual suggests that our traditional idea of “forced” may not be the case but it doesn’t say it wasn’t. I think the scriptures make them doctrine clear, Satan sought to destroy the agency of man. How that works may not been fully understood in this life. It concerns me when people suggest they know exactly how it works. I feel if we fully understood how agency would be destroyed the church would not shy away from teaching the doctrine. The student manual says “Tell the class that Satan might have destroyed our agency by eliminating any one of those four elements and that he is still trying to destroy our agency using the same techniques of deception and lies.” I hope we are all wise enough to understand that the idea of understanding exactly how it works is not key to battling Satan, but relying on and developing a relationship with the God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, relying on the atonement of Jesus Christ is!

  111. Adrian Hooson
    February 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Connor, you have captured what I have been thinking as i couldn’t see that Satan had a viable plan. What also puzzles me is if Satan had not offered anything and if there had not been a war in heaven and we all voted for God’s plan, how would it have worked without Satan playing a central part? No Satan, no plan at all? I appreciate that this is a hypothetical scenario but I often wonder why the plan of goodness, God’s plan, is reliant on Satan fulfilling his role. Also, where does Satan get his power if it is not given by God? Has he still got a form of priesthood?

    Thanks, Adrian.

  112. DQ
    February 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    Do you honestly think that trillions of God’s children would be convinced that you could become like God and receive all he has by making choices that would not be like him?

    I don’t think the answer is as simple as you say.

    I’m not persuaded to throw the force/coercion out the window because we see it so readily in all areas of our lives: government, family, even in church and priesthood.

    An unrighteous parent mimics Satan indeed when they try to force their children to be good. Why wouldn’t it seem at all likely that trillions wouldn’t be persuaded by an infantile, ignorant, and unknowning Lucifer who presumed he could “parent” all of humanity by forcing us to eat our veggies, so to speak.

    If you think it’s unlikely we, and our former brothers and sisters in the pre-existence wouldn’t be at least a little persuaded by the use of coercion to accomplish much good you haven’t really been paying attention to history, society, or even your own actions. We all have relics of this terrible philosophy within us.

  113. Pierce
    February 19, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    I think that the idea of ‘Satan destroying the agency of man’ can be answered with this theory as opposed to the compulsion theory if one ponders on the plan of salvation.

    We have to remember that the point of coming to earth isn’t too ‘return to heaven,” it’s to learn from our experience how to change or nature to be godlike and live as He does. When we choose to live a life of sin, love the things of the world, etc., then we are denying an exalted life. Under the theory in the OP, people’s agency would be destroyed because ‘none would be lost.’ But the reality is that many people choose to be ungodly. Saving them in an exalted state denies their agency to deny a Godly life.

    So yes, there is compulsion involved, but not compulsion to do good (as that popula4 theory goes). The theory proposed here still makes more sense and harmonizes with the scriptures.

    Thank you posting this, Connor. I benefited from it. The old theory never made a lot of sense to me.

  114. James D
    February 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    As many other posters have pointed out: this is a thought-provoking article but are the ‘force’ and ‘consequence-free’ attacks on agency mutually exclusive? Does one being true diminish the other?

  115. Jake Jacobsen
    February 22, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    “Do we honestly believe that trillions (or more) of God’s children would get excited about being forced into compliance?” Yes! Yes, I do! I know a lot of people who get excited about compulsory government programs, so long as it means everyone else is forced to comply as well.

    From what I’ve seen from compulsory government programs, some like them because it means that others have to comply so everyone has to “do the right thing”, and others like them because they take away the consequences of their actions. But it seems very reasonable that many in the pre-mortal world supported compulsion because so many support it in this world.

  116. Jake Jacobsen
    February 22, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    I think James D asked the right questions and I think this quote backs it up: “Satan might have destroyed our agency by eliminating any one of those [conditions] and he is still trying to destroy our agency using the same techniques of deception and lies” This suggests Satan is using multiple avenues of attack against agency–perhaps telling some to use force and telling others that there are no consequences.

    Rather than “A Widespread Misunderstanding About Satan’s War on Agency”, perhaps the article should be “A Widespread Incomplete Understanding About Satan’s War on Agency”.

  117. Pierce
    February 23, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    But the big misconception is that agency would be non-existent and Satan would somehow force everyone to be good so they all made it to heaven. That’s pretty much how I heard it growing up. I think that’s a little different vein altogether apart from the methods Satan uses to limit agency today

  118. Steve
    February 25, 2015 at 5:52 am #

    My experience with smart people of various persuasions is that they make unproven assumptions just like the rest of us. As I learn to better avoid em and find em, I notice them more and more. Conner’s article is not entirely without them and neither is the Ensign article Bryan refers us to.

    My (mis)understanding is that Lucifer was a/the son of the morning (D&C 76:27), was seduced by pride (2 Ne 24:12), fell to rise no more (Isaiah 14:12, 2 Ne. 9:8), was thrust down from heaven (D&C 29:37), and thus became the devil, “having sought that which was evil before God” (2 Ne 2:17) … “And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.” (D&C 76:26)

    I tend to agree with C.S.Lewis who pointed out that while most sins of mortality are sins of the flesh, pride is all the more devilish because it comes straight from Hell. If we believe that God’s plan is one eternal round, that the nature of God the Father taught in chapter 3 of the “Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual” are true, isn’t it plausible there was evil before Lucifer? It seems his fall was dismaying to the multitudes of spirits (D&C 76:27). He may have been a liar from the beginning (D&C 93:25), but the question is, beginning of what. The word “beginning” is used throughout the scriptures without context enough to know for sure what “beginning” is being referenced.

    I believe Lucifer was the first on record to demonstrate the dangers of creativity: it can be seduced by pride. As a person with a drive to be creative, I must always be on guard against this trap, and I cannot say that I have successfully avoided it. (Ironically, writing this comment might actually prove I have fallen.) It is possible to climb to the top of the wrong ladder, to let the desire to sing in harmony become the tendency to become dissonant, to build upon the works of men (or the devil) instead of the Gospel of Christ. Such will “have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return.” (3 Ne 27:11)

    How does this apply to agency and unproven assumptions? I believe Lucifer was making a serious proposal to save all mankind, and that he thought himself so clever in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man that he said, “and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor”. But his plan “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” (Moses 4:3). It seems the Father’s honor is synonymous with his power (D&C 29:36).

    Lucifer became the devil by trying to find a short-cut to “be like the most High.” (Isaiah 12:14), and he didn’t care what it cost his fellow spirit brothers and sisters by way of growth, but as Jesus made clear in his mortal ministry, “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Lucifer offered to be the son of the Father, but at what price!!! I believe he was so offended that his own seemingly error proof plan was rejected that he completed his rebellion by seeking to thwart the plan of the Father by lobbying for followers promising he would “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it” (Moses 4:3). Because the Father’s “Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever”, the first was chosen, and the Father says, “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 way Satan is the same now as he was before is he has ever sought to be preeminent. He cares nothing for what becomes of his fellow spirit brothers and sisters. He would rather rule in hell than be the lone spirit rejected for rebellion. Because of his pride, he is incensed that he was not chosen. He does not understand what Solomon taught in proverbs and Jesus taught in his mortal ministry, that it is better to seek a lower position than one deserves and let the powerful who observe your humility invite you to a higher station. The tendency is to want recognition for one’s ideas. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another, because we become impatient with those in power, hoping to be noticed. Because of his pride, Satan “seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself”. No wonder he will rise no more. (Hmmm … I think it is time for me to do a little repenting).

    How Lucifer planned to save us all by limiting our agency is no more clear to me than it is to others. Given President Benson’s manifest understanding of freedom as it relates to political philosphy, I tend to want to honor his statements on agency. But President Clark was no less a champion of freedom. Having read B.F.Skinner’s, “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, I can see how Skinner’s Behaviorism could be applied to limit agency. It took some very subtle experiments in the 1960’s to overthrow the decades long reign of Behaviorism. Even the Bible recognizes, “Train up a child

    Given that we will be judged for our works, thoughts, and desires (D&C 137:8-9), perhaps the loss of agency is to be found in the nature of our physical bodies. I tend to think that the context I was born into limited my agency, my ability to act, in many respects, perhaps as much as 95%. Not knowing myself, I will close by deferring one wiser than myself. In an October 1996 General Conference address, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. Of course our genes, circumstances, and environments matter very much, and they shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability.” In this same talk Elder Maxwell quotes William R. May: “To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up”.

    What if Satan’s plan was to put us in bodies with no desires? The purpose of life is to increase agency, not replace the limitations of infancy with the limitations of bad habits. It is the mind of man that is free. But there are plenty of examples where a change of the brain changes behavior. But all the speculation in the world will not clarify how it is possible to limit agency. How long will it be before technology that allows brain connections to control toys is turned towards controlling thoughts, eliminating our “inner zone” of sovereignty? It may be closer than we know.

  119. Lorie
    February 25, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    A couple of facts:

    1.
    The Primary manual says “…another spirit son whose name was Lucifer also wanted to be sent to earth to help us. He told Heavenly Father that he would come to earth and force all of us to do what is right. He wouldn’t let us choose for ourselvesThe institute manual says, “Most people think that he would have forced us to do right, but that is only one possibility. Explain that certain conditions are necessary if we are to have agency and that you are going to demonstrate what they are.”

    (https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-teacher-resource-manual/-genesis-3-moses-4?lang=eng)

    The institute manual is set up to ‘demonstrate’ all the aspects of agency but unlike the article doesn’t say that most people are wrong.

    3.
    In the article you quoted President Benson as saying:

    “The first basic principle is agency. The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force.”

    These words were spoken by President Benson while he was a prophet, at a BYU devotional, published in the Ensign and republished in the current manual we study in RS and Priesthood.

    4.
    Regarding The quote from J. Ruben Clark.

    The article says:

    Other quotes from church leaders exist suggesting disagreement on this position. Questioning “whether the intelligence of man can be compelled,” President J. Reuben Clark said, “As I read the scriptures, Satan’s plan required one of two things: either the compulsion of the mind, the spirit, the intelligence of man, or else saving men in sin” (emphasis added). Questioning the former, it’s clear he was suggesting a stronger case for the latter.

    BUT you leaves out the last line (italics and bold added for emphasis) “Certainly men cannot be saved in sin, because the laws of salvation and exaltation are founded in righteousness, not in sin” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, 193).

    5.
    In the article you use the logic:
    “If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s worth pondering whether the same is true of Satan.”

    In the scriptures that characteristic is a righteous characteristic of God.

    God is same yesterday, today, and forever: 1 Ne. 10:18 (2 Ne. 27:23; 29:9; Alma 31:17; Morm. 9:9; Moro. 10:19).

    the Spirit is same yesterday, today, and forever: 2 Ne. 2:4.

    God works by power according to men’s faith, same today, tomorrow, forever: Moro. 10:7.
    Today

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/triple-index/today?lang=eng

  120. B W
    February 25, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    @ Steve: I appreciate the intellectual honesty of your tone, specifically your choice of words that acknowledge possibility of error. Such Socratic wisdom—”All I know is that I know nothing”—is truly rare.

  121. M.E.
    February 25, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Pride and Selfishness goeth before the fall. Leaving devastation and destruction in its wake. Destroying and breaking down until there’s nothing left but a black hole of nothingness.

    Love. Love perpetuates itself. Lifts and edifies. Grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day. Love keeps an eye single to the Glory of God. Perfect Love casteth out all fear. Giving back to God the one thing He desires most as a parent. Your Love freely given just for the sake of loving and serving Him, expecting nothing in return, but doing it all for His glory.

    Our Father’s work is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. He will go on with or without us. He course is one eternal round of building a family that lives the life He lives and can abide the fullness of His presence. Holy Holy Holy.

    Lucifer thought he had a better idea proposing “his will be done”. He was wrong. He never had a chance for consideration anyway. His pride allowed all Light and Love to leave him to the point of no return. He dwells in a perpetual state of darkness and misery cannot escape it forever.

    He still issues invitations to join him in Hotel Hell. Every minute of your life, you are either accepting or rejecting that invitation. Going in one direction or the other.

    It’s all quite simple really. A pre-mortal spirit thought he had the “stuff” to dethrone the Most High God and got spanked out of Heaven. Father knows best and whatever He takes in His thought to do, He WILL DO unopposed EVER.

    Just be good and don’t hurt your head thinking to deeply on the subject. You were there ya know? You just don’t remember it now but being here should at least tell you something about yourself. So don’t blow it!

    GO HOME!

  122. Pierce
    February 26, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    I always love the invitation to not think too deeply on an aspect of the gospel. I guess there are more worthy pursuits to ponder, like the the Bachelor or baseball statistics

  123. Ben
    March 1, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    Excellent Thought

  124. John
    March 1, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Satan was a liar from the beginning. Maybe he never intended to save anyone: just obtain Father’s power and glory, seducing us as a means to that end, then abandon us.

  125. Anna
    March 2, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

    The March 2015 issue of the Ensign has a great article on this very subject, entitled Satan’s REBELLION. I quote from the article: page 68
    “Satan made an unwelcome and arrogant proposal to change Heavenly Father’s plan…”
    He is known as “the father of all lies.” “We would be absurdly naïve to assume that Satan was telling the truth when he made this exaggerated claim of universal salvation.”
    “What Satan proposed was a lie. … It was a trap set to ensnare and deceive people into following Satan. It was, in the end, a plan of damnation, not a plan of salvation.”
    Those who followed Satan have no agency.
    “Those who protest and rebel against God, those who seek to change God’s plan, those who demand a lowering of the standards of righteousness and seek to compel others to accept immoral behavior, and those who seek to deceive people into believing that wickedness is happiness and that we can find salvation in sin, all support different elements of Satan’s rebellious strategy.”
    Wickedness never was happiness. You choose: God’s plan or Satan’s goals.

  126. Jake Jacobsen
    March 3, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    I’ve been thinking about this a little more.

    “It’s almost laughable to picture Satan at a pre-mortal pep rally, shouting to the masses, ‘Follow me, and I will force you to be good!’ It simply does not ring true.”

    It may seem laughable that he would say something like that. But we also have to consider the pep rally for this point of view: “Satan proposed exempting us from the consequences of choice—eating, drinking, and being merry, while still being redeemed in the end. Satan wanted to save everybody, regardless of their choices.”

    Imagine Satan at a pre-mortal pep rally asserting that point of view: “Follow me, and you’ll be able to do what ever you want without consequences in the end. If you’re stronger than your neighbor, go ahead, kill them and take their stuff. You won’t be punished. But if you’re weak then too bad, you’ll be out of luck because the strong will kill or enslave you without punishment.” That kind of argument doesn’t ring true either.

    That is why I say the truth is probably more like the arguments that come from many politicians today—that you will be forced to be good but you also won’t have to suffer the consequences of your actions. It doesn’t matter that neither the politicians of today or Satan then could make good on those kinds of promises because they certainly sound appealing and even plausible.

  127. Scott Thormaehlen
    March 3, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    Conner,

    I agree that in this life the tactics presented in the Book of Mormon to “eat, drink, and be merry” and that being saved in our sins seems like the more convincing scenario. However, I believe this plan would have been completely foreign to the third that fell with Lucifer in the war in heaven. I tend to disagree with the idea that Satan proposed a plan in the council in heaven that would have been equally appealing to what we see in the teachings of Korihor and other false teachers in the Book of Mormon, to do what we want and to be saved in that condition.

    I believe that to be saved, the third of the hosts of heaven that fell with him understood “saved” as achieving the life that God lived and that meant to be clean, otherwise what were they being promised by Lucifer?

    I don’t think the hosts of heaven that followed Satan understood it as a plan to eat, drink, and be merry and then to be saved in a condition of filthiness – I believe they knew they had to have a change of nature come upon them and the easiest way to do that was to have that change forced upon them while in mortality. This bogus and deceitful plan, in the short term of mortality, would have been worth it to those willing to give up their agency and responsibility for such a short time in exchange for an eternity to have all that God has. Perhaps they viewed exaltation in this light as a freebie? Otherwise, what did “saved” mean to those in the council of heaven, that Satan promised them, if not have their natures changed and to become like God?

    Although you bring up a lot of characteristics to how Satan works in this life to convince man to do evil with no thought of consequences, I don’t think this same tactic was presented in the council in heaven, as I’ve already stated. In fact, the quote from the Church’s Ezra Taft Benson manual is the context of subjugation, corrupt governments, and the nature of man. You say that coercion would have been laughable, but history has shown that free people (as in the story in 1 Samuel 8:7, where Israel rejected God in favor of a King) often desired subjugation over personal responsibility. I don’t think Ezra Taft Benson was wrong to characterize the central issue in the war in heaven as one of freedom verses coercion.

    God’s plan plainly lays out the role of freedom while coercion is viewed as an evil characteristic (D&C 121:37). Remember also, that Lucifer was originally viewed in a positive light before his fall, so the implication that the pre-fallen Lucifer rallied his followers to agree with a plan that forced them into a state of exaltation by having no choice but to follow the Gospel, is not illogical and perhaps desirable. The rejection of his plan, is swollen pride to take God’s honor, and the subsequent war of words that played out before being tossed out, however that played out, might have convinced Lucifer to alter his plan and to draw more away, but we don’t have all the details.

  128. Scott Thormaehlen
    March 3, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    Typo – “His,” not “is,” swollen pride…

  129. Pierce
    March 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    Scott,

    I have read a few chapters into the book so far and thought I’d share a few thoughts:

    1. In order for someone to do good, there has to be the option to do bad. 2 Nephi 2:11 teaches that righteousness could not be brought to pass without the option of wickedness. Notice how it doesn’t just say that agency couldn’t be brought to pass, but righteousness. In other words, a person cannot do good if there is no option to do evil. Being forced to do only good isn’t, in reality, doing good. It also would do nothing to change your nature. So just as you suggest the ‘no consequences’ plan wouldn’t make much sense when proposed, either did this one. It wouldn’t come any closer to making someone into a godly being. This even seems more illogical. The difference is that the “no consequence” plan sounds more desirable than the “force” plan, and the outcomes are the same. So why wouldn’t he go with one that sounded more appealing?

    2. Instead of logic, Wright suggests that the proposed plan was fueled by emotion. Abraham 3:28 says that the “second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” It’s not a stretch to believe the followers were angry as well (since they followed), and that their emotions were played on rather than logic. That’s how our political leaders manipulate the masses today. Rarely is it with logic.

    3. Just how could someone be forced to live sinlessly? It makes no sense. Also, in Moses 4:1-2, Lucifer says that he will “redeem all mankind.” If people were all forced to do good, there would be no “redemption.” But if they were allowed to do evil, he would redeem all mankind in their sinfulness, that “not one would be lost.” We don’t have much scripture to go off of on all this, but this one supports the alternative view more.

    4. There is no scriptural precedence for forcing someone to always do good. There are, however, many scriptural instances in which the “no consequence for sin” philosophy is taught and many being deceived by it.

  130. Charles
    April 25, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    In a tactful manner this posting relates to this thread directly but from a slightly different perspective. All numbers are relative accuracy.
    2015 world population 7,300,000,000
    2015 LDS Population 15,000,000
    This is a .002 % ratio
    Numbers are rounded and general but illustrate well. Excluding all deceased of course.

    Though it has improved tremendously over the last century, where are the 2/3 of Fathers children, the hosts of heaven, who supported Jehovah and our Father Elohim?

    Who then is my Brother or sister?
    What is my responsibility to my brother or sister?
    If a person is not a member of the LDS church does that mean I can conquer his lands , his lively hood, etc all in the name of building up the kingdom of God?
    Is this what is meant in the D&C when it speaks of “thrusting in our sickles?”
    Given the above ratio of non members to members of the LDS church, what is an effective strategy for each of us to apply to truly “thrusting in our sickles?” that we may contribute to our Fathers Mission….”Too bring to pass the Immortality and Eternal Life of Man?”
    LDs are known for their in-depth and deep discussions of Heavenly Fathers Plan. Admirably so. For illustration only…The numbers above may could might suggest that discussion and talking are perhaps our greatest strengths. Though we have yet been able to convert our knowledge into a productive replica of our Pre-existent enthusiasm for Heavenly Fathers Great Plan of Existence. A time and a place for all things yes….However our time grows shorter.

  131. Iimx
    April 27, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    Pierce,
    On point 2, where you state, ” That’s how our political leaders manipulate the masses today. Rarely is it with logic.” Here is some commentary about LDS testimony, from the LDS church webpage.

    “When we talk about testimony, we refer to feelings of our heart and mind rather than an accumulation of logical, sterile facts.”

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/the-power-of-a-personal-testimony?lang=eng

    In a sense D&C 76 spells out a type of ‘universal salvation’. Its by grace, nobody has to really do anything in particular to reach the lowest state of glory. In fact someone could be quite wicked. Only those that commit the unpardonable sin actually go to hell. In some ways there is ‘no consequences’ of sin. That is the definition of grace. But apparently in the LDS gospel, there is base of grace, plus ‘all you can do’ to achieve the highest state of glory in the next left.

  132. tim
    June 23, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    If there is no law then there is no sin. If there is no sin then there is no eternal consequence and all can be saved.

    Agency is based on an ability to choose between opposing forces, good (God’s will) and evil (carnal will). If there is no law then there is no good or evil to choose from. Anything a man does or doesn’t do is then presumed good, therefore all are saved.

    If a soul cannot chose between good and evil then by default agency is destroyed.

    You have to remember it’s a philosophical argument not a practical one, obviously. (Obviously philosophical because it would never work, thus the title “Father of all lies”.)

  133. Joyce
    September 6, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Explain government and the way it controls behavior by compulsion and does it with the support of ‘good’ people who seek to control the behavior of their fellow men. Where does that come from?

  134. Matty White
    September 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    I enjoyed this, but with a slight variance in perspective one could argue that Gods plan included the avoidance of sins consequences through Christs Atonement and that this reliance upon another was what Satan rejected for himself and knowing he is Eternally existent and fearing the vail chose his own path this juxtaposition is confusing if every knee shall bend and every tongue confess the Jesus is the Christ was Satans alternate plan really about taking away consequences ? Lest we are left to suffer even as He did… ?
    is it that keeping the commandments is about knowledge of the future more so than about being obedient and faith is based in future facts as yet not undertaken, not an assumption of hope or ignorance but of creation and purpose? If happiness is the goal why is suffering so essential? Could it be that appreciation and gratitude are keys of knowledge? Pride and selfishness are huge factors of the schism in heavens councils…

  135. John Pratt
    September 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    John Galt’s comment on February 8, 2015 at 9:01pm leads me to this question:

    Yes, Connor, it is true that I can’t imagine one trillion+ hosts of heaven cheering for coercion. But I *can* imagine 160,000,000 American voters cheering for coercion, because I see it every 4 years. The right-left fallacy has them believing that they don’t have a choice. They don’t yet see a third option such as voluntaryism. They cheer because they only see two options (right or left). In reality democrat and republican is the same thing and it’s the same one choice. They’re tricked into thinking democracy is their only option, even though a better option is right under their nose.

    So here’s a relevant question: Did the hosts of heaven know they had a choice? Were the hosts of heaven tricked into giving up their agency like Americans are every single election season? Did they know they had a choice?

  136. Kenneth Moake
    September 6, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Fascinating discussion. Thankfully, the issue and its background are addressed very well here in a Church magazine:

    https://www.lds.org/liahona/2015/03/satans-rebellion?lang=eng

    Wonderful treatment of the subject.

    A main point, as has been mentioned, is that Satan’s “plan” was a deception, and could mot have worked. Satan would have said anything he thought we wanted to hear. But he would have had no power either to remove consequences for action, those consequences being as eternal as God, or to offer salvation without choosing good. Compulsion is possible, if we allow it, but not unto salvation.

  137. Vanae Keiser
    September 6, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    I have thought on this theory for years. Here’s the thing, I believe Satan wanted to take this approach, but our Father in Heaven knew that it could not be so. The laws of eternity would not allow us to become gods as corrupt individuals. I also believe that Satan had a plan to remedy that–that we would not become gods at all, but slaves unto him and the other “true” gods, as he saw it. This was in opposition to Heavenly Father’s entire plan, of course, as He wanted us to become like Him, give unto us all that He had. But Satan is (and always was; as you suggest, he is unchanging) selfish and greedy. Anyway, the point is, not only could his plan NOT work, our loving God never wished that life for us.

    I do think that you get a little off track in the end of your article, saying that the reason he tempts us to choose evil has to do with this plan. I don’t believe this is true. I think that, had his plan been implemented, he wouldn’t care if we chose good or evil… we would end up just the same either way–serving him as lesser beings. However, as it is, his plan was dismissed and he was cast out of God’s presence forever. He lost everything. So now, he tempts us out of contempt, out of hatred. He is miserable. And “he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” 2 Ne. 2:27. He knows he can’t win, he can’t have what he wanted… so now he is determined to keep as many of us from getting what we wanted either.

  138. Alex
    September 6, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    The article is written with a clear modern individualist (western) bias. In collectivist societies through history and even now. The concept of insuring salvation via compulsory obedience isn’t actually that unappealing.

    Largely this is the application of modern individualist understanding to ancient knowledge. Which is bound to create folly. I am certain that Satan’s plan included removal of whichever pillar of agency would be required to ensure salvation, per individual.

    Though really, the atonement via satisfaction of justice and consequence; does ultimately remove consequence from the sinner. Just as it removes eternal death of the physical, it removes via repentance, practically all consequence compared to what otherwise would have been without the atonement.

    The consequence we all “deserve” according to justice for being born to this mortal form is death eternal, both physical and spiritual. Unless that consequence can be removed, by whatever means. What one must then consider, is what was the difference. When both plans ultimately remove consequence. Then the method would be what was in question. However, beyond that, one reads that the rejection of the plan was largely that glory went to Satan, not God.

  139. Stacy
    September 7, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    What if it’s BOTH: that satan wanted a consequence free environment AND planned on using a little force and coercion to keep you within certain specifications, so he could save everyone. Not a lot of force, or as correctly pointed out in the article, he couldn’t build an army in the pre-existence. The timing of the force is extremely crucial so I will explain.

    Satan planned on using a type of spiritual “welfare” program, where we all would always be on the spiritual dole, constituting a little bit of constant force being applied, a narrowing of the playing field if you will. The timing of that spiritual welfare is the core of satan’s plan. That little bit of force would be constant and thus, due to being constant, would come BEFORE your choice, NOT AFTER, like consequences do.

    Satan’s followers here are always on the spiritual dole from him, meaning they not only feed themselves the appearance of a consequence free environment (through group based blindness), but they have a little force applied to keep them blind and obedient to satan’s ways. Live in or around liberal circles for any length of time and you start to see that liberalism contains an element of mental force, group force, political correctness, and forced mental unity where you’re under constant threat of being made unpopular and/or told to leave if you don’t go to sleep with the rest of the herd. Liberals anointed Hillary without so much as a conversation, as proof of this unseen mental compliance mechanism that exists BEFORE an actual choice is made. Furthermore, modern liberals, like satan, love to co-opt government and make laws for unconstitutionally high fines against bakers, and they jail clerks, so obviously satan’s followers really DO believe in forced compliance to their dogma and more specifically, using that force in a targeted way, to make an example out of someone so as to chill free speech BEFORE any choice is made by those watching. Chilling your ability BEFOREHAND, to choose, is how Satan has always perverted agency. It’s how he planned to narrow the playing field to make it easier to save everyone.

    As this article correctly points out, it’s absurd to suppose that satan would have sought total constant compulsion to do what’s right. It’s also absurd to claim that satan ONLY wanted a consequence free environment and never planned to use coercion to bring obedience. It’s mostly about the TIMING of the force. Satan didn’t plan on using full force on everyone all the time, but enough force on a few non compliant folks, to CHILL AGENCY. JUST LIKE HE DOES HERE WHEN HE CONTROLS GOVERNMENTS.

    Satan’s followers lie and call the consequences that God allows, forced compliance. Consequences are force to be sure, but the crux of it all is the TIMING OF THE FORCE. God allows force AFTER your choice, satan and liberalism apply mental force of the group and fear, causing blindness BEFORE your choice (and since liberals and satan claimed to believe in a consequence free environment, they turn out to be liars because they apply a lot of group based force and even sadistic force if you don’t choose satan and liberalism).

    Satan’s core tactic to persuade the hosts of heaven to follow him, boiled down to “I care MORE {BTW THIS IS A CORE COMPONENT OF LIBERALISM}, and as proof of that caring, I will shepherd you more than God will. God doesn’t care and only uses force of consequences after the fact, and thus God has a high failure rate and will lose MANY souls, so choose my plan so you won’t be lost due to God’s neglect.”

  140. Jeff
    September 7, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    It really makes no sense to debate this, and try to prove or disprove the minutia, based on our, as yet limited understanding. Moses 4:3 is pretty clear on this, whether it lines up with anyone’s opinion or not. Just as it’s impossible to reason with the unreasonable on earth, similarly, Satan would have “tried” anything to grab the glory for himself. Whether he actually could have done so, I think, is not the point at all. It was never an option at all, as far as our Father in Heaven is concerned. His question to us was somewhat rhetorical. Whom shall I send? There was never more than one choice. Satan’s pride would have blinded him to truth, and he foolishly thought he might have a chance presenting an alternative plan (although he did convince 1/3 of our brothers and sisters that it was possible). I for one, do believe Satan sought to destroy agency, and still does, but will forever be blinded by his pride. I’m often blinded by a similar, very real weakness.

  141. Ricki Goodfellah
    September 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    The Plan of Salvation that was presented was not up for a vote. Only to be sustained or opposed, if any. The Plan was Perfect in it’s concept and design! Albeit, there was dissent by Satan and apparently 1/3 of the Heavenly host. Heavenly Father essentially gave us the very formula that he used to gain his own exaltation. By providing this plan; he then instructed us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling! In other words the consequences of our actions were eternal and binding! That plan as each of us knows, requires a Savior because all of us fall short.

    It took one Like unto God to fill that void, none other was qualified. While Satan may have presented a shortcut as it appeared it never had the power to save or even to be a viable option. Heavenly Father set up conditions for a fall and then allowed it to happen without his interference. Had the fall not occurred, we would have remained much like Adam & Eve in the Garden Innocent as babes and incapable of committing Sin. We were not awakened from this state until had we not gotten the knowledge from the tree of Good & Evil.

    While this state of innocence was somewhat sublime there was no agency because there were no choices other than that one the one that led to the Fall! The state of innocence lacks the means to promote Eternal Progression or to become like Heavenly Father thus falling short of the plan of salvation. Adam & Eve in this state of innocence were subject to a Terrestrial world where the veil over their minds prohibited their advancement beyond tending to dressing the garden, naming animals and basic task. All else was provided. I believe Satan wanted it to all end there. His Plan would have us remain in this state permanently so that he could rule over us indefinitely. His motives were selfish and impure. Rather than glorify the Father he wanted this glory for himself.

    The Glory of the Father is to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of his Children. There is no higher glory or motive than that. There is no greater Love than that a friend should lay down his life for another. Christ sacrificed himself to bring about the greater good and glory for our Father and all of his children that would receive that gift! Praise be to Jesus Christ our Lord Our Savior and our Dear Brother and Friend…

  142. Josh
    September 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    This was addressed in a recent Ensign article “ish”. Here is the link:
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/03/satans-rebellion?lang=eng

  143. Rachel
    September 10, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    This is an interesting discussion. As I’ve thought about this, I’ve thought about the difference between us(who have agency), and animals(who don’t). Both groups still act, but animals act more based on how their bodies function, namely hormones. People also can act this way, but we have the ability to stop, analyse, and change how we would respond based on our reasoning. Thus we have agency. We have hormonal responses when we get angry, when we are scared, or when we are attracted to others. How we choose to respond to them is our agency. It seems to me, that with that idea, Satan wanted us to be like the animals, responding only to what our bodies dictate. Thus, effectively making any actions we take as meaningless from a spiritual growth perspective.

    If we were designed more like animals(ie having the ability to act, but not assess or change direction), then we could still do whatever wanted, but have no responsibility. This would not allow us to grow or change, though. Thus I feel there is a difference between the ability to perform actions based on our environment, and choose how we will respond to our environment.

    I feel that Satan did want us to be more like animals, giving us the ability to act, but not choose. That ability to choose, even when our bodies produce substances to compel us to act, is agency. This would allow us to eat, drink,and be marry (following only what our hormones dictate), but there would also be no growth.

    I think a lot of this discussion may come down to what our definition of agency is.

  144. Eric C
    September 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    I respectfully disagree with the claim that animals lack agency. It seems reasonable to say that animals have fewer ways in which they may exercise agency, but I’m led to believe that all intelligences have agency. Note that even the very elements of which the earth was made “obeyed” (see Abraham chapter 4); to me this creates a necessary implication that the elements had agency.

    But my analysis and conclusion may be wrong.

  145. Enki
    September 10, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    Eric,
    Your response reminds me of a discussion about animal nociception and veganism. There are those that really think that animals do not feel pain unless they have higher brain functions. When I heard that I found it strange to think of ‘pain’ not being pain. For example a jellyfish might move away from a sharp object, but might not be aware of how far away it has to be to not feel ‘pain’, or if the object might harm it again. Actually I think the biggest argument is that it doesn’t appear to have an emotional response to the stimulus. The argument was to justify eating fish, clams or similar that have nociception and not pain in their view. I am not sure that the distinction between nociception vs. pain will be one that a vegan would want to make, if they are vegan for animal welfare reasons.

    I think the LDS faith is really concerned about ‘moral agency’. Some animals might have moral agency to varying degrees. Some might not have it at all. For instance I saw some grasshoppers eating other grasshoppers which were stepped on in the trail I was walking on. They didn’t seem to be aware that it was their kind they were eating. I saw photos of frogs eating other frogs of the same type. Same thing, didn’t appear to be the least bit disturbed by it. Maybe this is faulty, as some people have no remorse for things other people might find morally objectionable.

  146. Central Texan
    March 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    I have not read every comment, so excuse me if I am repeating what someone else has said, but my view is that the primary way for Lucifer to pitch his alternative would be to promise the removal of God’s standard of behavior, aka the LAW. After all, Lucifer could argue, it was the existence of the law that made Father’s plan such a treacherous risk. The law is what would separate us from God — and he would be right, in a way, because their was some risk. Some of us might indeed be ‘lost’ in that we would not return to God’s presence because of of our actions relative to the law.

    It is possible that Lucifer first did not have faith in himself to adhere to the law. He came up with his alternative, a way that no one would be lost. He thought so highly of his idea and began pitching it vigorously. Many followed him. Pride increased, he began to poke holes in Father’s plan: “In MY alternative, you won’t have to rely on a Savior to do anything to save you, each of you makes his or her own way according to his own standard. There is no outside law imposed on you that will only separate you from God.” Lucifer convinced himself and others not to have faith in Jehovah as the Redeemer. He ended up with enmity toward God the Father and came out in open rebellion, along with many others who would follow him.

  147. Cheryl Lake
    April 29, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    I am a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and today is the first introduction that I had to the insight of Satan allowing us to do what we wanted and still be saved. Surely this destroys our free agency.
    The quote by J. Reuben Clark, Jr. clarifies that men could not be coerced into just making perfect, obedient choices. Satan could not “crack the whip” good enough to control ALL men. Attempts to do this throughout history have failed.
    The key that seems to be missing in all that I have read is the usurping of God’s power to Lucifer. He states “Surely I will do this, therefore give me thy power.” This is the only way that this plan could be accomplished. No one would have to be clean, as being subject to Satan eternally would not require being so. There would be total severance from God due to individual mortal sin; therefore, the spirits of men would need a new leader who could not give them eternal progression.
    I must express here my gratitude to my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ for rejecting this plan and giving me the opportunity to live His plan and to repent when I make wrong choices.

  148. Cheryl Lake
    April 29, 2016 at 8:32 am #

    Just a quick addition to my comment above and to give Dave Chui the credit for stating it first. Satan’s plan for the salvation of man was a lie. He could not promise man the eternal life to become like God. He could, however, promise eternal existence if he took God’s place as the eternal governing power. An existence with no purpose or progression. He continues his quest over the souls of man that all may me miserable like unto himself. Which misery would have been our eternal lot should we have fallen for his lies.

  149. saxoclese
    April 29, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    Some of us believe that God is the anthropomorphization of all that is good in mankind and the Satin/Lucifer is the anthropomorphization of all that is evil in mankind. This is a much simpler and more believable concept than both as separate “beings” with plans and motives.

  150. Jim
    April 30, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    There is something very, very bizarre about this discussion. This eternal ‘plan’ was ultimately already set up according to LDS theology. Actually having a spiritual meeting about this was a mute point. The LDS god ‘Elohim’ already had gone through the program, and this was done on other worlds. And oddly enough, could even the ‘gods’ have had ‘free agency’ to change this eternal law? Seems ironic that there is no ‘free agency’ to have made a different choice.

  151. Jim
    April 30, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    Saxoclese,
    Lol! I know its a typo, but its funny “satin”. In any case your statement sounds like something from Zoroastrianism. Except that from what I know good/evil, light/dark and other polarities are in a constant struggle/balance. Both being in a sense equal, and none overcoming and destroying the other.

  152. Archaeik
    July 19, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    If this was brought up in earlier comments, apologies.

    A couple of thoughts:
    A major pro in the compulsion column is the likelihood that Lucifer would make sure to engineer the circumstance to prevent himself from being disobeyed, ever.
    (However, this does not automatically indicate compulsion in all things)
    It is also quite foolish to ignore that Heavenly Father could literally force us to do things, but has chosen to grant and preserve our agency.

    This ignores the obvious possibility that Satan was an outright liar.
    Why should we take his word when he claims he would/could save anyone? (or assume that the definition of “salvation” he was using matches our expectation) Primarily, he was interested in supplanting the Father.
    (Although it is also likely he also desired innumerable subjects to lord over)

    Tangentially, “agency” is not only “the ability to choose (and be accountable)”, but “the power to act”, such that it is both qualitative and quantitative, and certainly quite manipulable.

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