Scripture Roundtable 47: D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 43, “Take upon You My Whole Armor”

(Originally published 12 October 2013.)

This is Scripture Roundtable 47 from The Interpreter Foundation, in which we discuss Doctrine & Covenants Gospel Doctrine Lesson #43, “Take upon You My Whole Armor,” bringing in various insights to help us better understand the scriptures and church history. These roundtables will generally follow the 2013 Gospel Doctrine schedule of scriptures, a few weeks ahead of time.

Panelists for this roundtable include Brant Gardner, Craig Foster, and Martin Tanner.

This roundtable is also available as an audio podcast, and will be included in the podcast feed. You can listen by pressing the play button or download the podcast below:


6 thoughts on “Scripture Roundtable 47: D&C Gospel Doctrine Lesson 43, “Take upon You My Whole Armor”

  1. Thanks for a very interesting podcast. I believe it was Brant Gardner who talked about Satan’s plan and how it may not have been coercion to do good, as we often think. I thought that was an interesting and reasonable interpretation. By not presenting opposites or allowing opposing points of view to emerge, all could be saved to his glory and not the Father’s. But, would we progress? I think you might be on to something. I think we often think his plan was coercion, because that is the simplest way to think about removal of agency. In some sense, we would have been coerced, simply because we would have never had any other option. I like the analogy choosing between two identical hymnbooks.

    How does the Father’s glory increase? At least in part, it is through his offspring developing into gods–through their eternal increase. So, there might also be something about the Father’s glory and the impact on his children.

    As I was listening to the discussion on the podcast, I was thinking about it in terms of Fowler’s stages of faith and Perry’s positions of cognitive development. One can take models/analogies too far, but I wonder if we can’t get some benefit from thinking about this discussion in these terms.

    Fowler’s 6 stages run from:

    Stage 1: no distinction made between truth and error, all things including fantasy are true; this stage usually ends around age 7. Our basic concepts of God are generally instilled in this stage.

    Stage 2: acceptance of truth and error (dualism). Some things are simply true. Other things are simply false. This stage usually lasts until high school or college or the work place, when we meet people with different versions of what is truth and what is error.

    Stage 3: recognition that others have a different set of truth and error, resulting in a need to have defined positions established by recognized authorities. This stage is essentially “circling the wagons” and shoring up one’s faith by relying on somebody else’s testimony. This is the role of creeds in Christianity.

    Stage 4: recognition that other points of view are strong and that the positions taken in stage 3 don’t work anymore. This is a period of trial of faith and may lead to one losing faith. It is often a painful stage to be in. Paradigms may crumble, or at least are challenged, causing rethinking about what is important.

    Stage 5: commitment to faith. This is a conscious decision to commit to something, often different from what was believed in stages 2 and 3. Stage 4 breaks paradigms into pieces and stage 5 rebuilds them into a more flexible approach to faith and a recognition that one commits to having faith. That one chooses between alternatives.

    Stage 6: a sense of certainty that the commitment made in stage 5 is right for oneself, but with an openness that others have the right and responsibility to choose that commitment for themselves. In stage 6, one stops worrying about whether they made the right decision, but continues on in faith.

    Perry’s scheme is both more general than Fowler’s (applies to more than religion or faith, but all areas of academic learning), but is also more specific, as it focuses on transitions of college students. Position 1 seems to me to equate to Fowler’s stage 2 and Position 9 to Fowler’s stage 5. The other positions show the transitions through stages 3 and 4. It provides an orderly advance through controversy and through times where order isn’t readily seen.

    As I listened to the podcast and Brant’s discussion of how Lucifer proposed to end agency by not providing choices, thereby saving all, suggested to me that all would be in Fowler stage 2 or Perry position 1 for all of mortality. There would be nothing to move people into stage 3 or 4 or through later positions. It is even possible that Lucifer’s plan may even be to keep us in Fowler stage 1, where all things are believed to be true and nothing would be false. Lucifer’s plan, as I interpreted what Brant said, would prevent us from seeing opposites, right and wrong. Or it would prevent us from seeing different versions of what is right or wrong–only one version would suffice. Either way, Lucifer would limit us to Fowler stage 1 or 2, or Perry position 1. Our progression would have been stopped and the Father’s glory (immortality and eternal life of man–his children becoming god’s) would have been stopped as well.

    It seems to me to really develop faith, we need to advance from basic belief in right and wrong through relying on somebody else’s testimony (stage 3 or Perry position 2) through a trial of faith (stage 4 or several Perry positions from 4 to 8) where we find ourselves having difficulty to relying on another’s testimony to committing to what we are going to follow, despite evidences for a variety of possibilities (stage 5), and then into a fully developed faith that we recognize what is right for ourselves, but don’t feel threatened by different possible interpretations or what we once thought were warts or worse in the plan or that others may pursue something different (stage 6).

    The more I think about these two models, the more I see scriptures and other teachings in the Gospel in new light. And I do think Lucifer’s plan would have prevented us from advancing in faith or developing in cognition, by not providing alternative versions of truth.

    All would return to God because none would advance to the painful stage 4 where there is a real possibility of failure to appropriately develop as required.

    I have long thought that Lucifer’s plan would have been sufficient to put God’s children in the Telestial Kingdom and no more. The worry about failing to reach the Celestial Kingdom resulted in 1/3 of God’s children following Lucifer’s plan, which would have simply allowed people to achieve the Telestial Kingdom, anyway. And those 1/3 don’t even obtain the Telestial Kingdom.

    Thinking through the lack of opposing points of view, precluding the ability to exercise agency, does seem to prevent the type of growth our Father wants in us.

  2. These podcasts have helped me in presenting the GD lesson when called upon to present it, I owe you guys the credit. I have even downloaded the video and shown it in class. It received a great response. This round table turned an ostensibly mundane topic into one of great depth and interest. Thank you.

  3. Brant,

    I think you are correct that Lucifer was going to take away the agency of man by removing opposition. You have broadened my thinking on the subject. It generates the question as to how he was going to remove the opposition? If there was simply no “Satan” to tempt us to break commandments would that be sufficient? Or would he have removed all law, so that every action was legal and there were no commandments?

    • Of course all is speculation, but I don’t think a Satan is necessary for agency. I think the presence of and understanding of choice is sufficient. However, the question of what Satan’s mechanism might have been is interesting and one I hadn’t thought about. My first suggestion is that there is simply a continuation of the conditions of the Garden, with the addition of the ability to have children. However that condition was created prior to the fall, it could have been continued and the possibility of a fall eliminated.

      • Even in the garden there was a choice as to whether to partake of the forbidden fruit. All other fruit was legal so the choice as to which other fruit they ate had no significance. The only choice that had any significance was when there was a commandment not to eat a particular fruit. But, no one did so until they were enticed by Satan. So, it appears that for any learning to take place as to the making good choices there must be commandments and there must be a Satan to entice us to break them. It appears that in Satan’s plan there either was not going to be any commandments or there was not going to be anyone to entice us to disobey them.

        Take your scenario where Adam and Eve could have children in the Garden. If there were no commandments then there could be no sin, or if there was no enticement to break a commandment there would also be no sin. Then everyone would be eligible to return to our father in heaven having gained a physical body, but learning nothing. We could not have become as the Gods, knowing good and evil. We would all be good little robots for our God, Lucifer.

  4. We need to remember that Satan was a liar from the beginning (D&C 93:25). So, anything he says cannot bu trusted. I do not believe for one minute that he intended to save any of us, let alone all of us (Moses 4:1). Just because he said it does not mean it is true. If he were able to somehow get hold of God’s power the last thing he would even think of would be our eternal salvation.

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