Divine Nature

I was at one of the local wards last night for roundtable training as a cubscout leader.

It was hard for me to concentrate on the training because I kept thinking of the poster with the sketch of the pretty, little girl up on the classroom wall.

Divine Nature

I have inherited divine qualities which I will strive to develop.

In the teaching of the children in our community, how am I suppose to interpret this?

29 comments

  1. How about like this from 2 Peter 1:4?

    His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.

  2. “Hang-up” is to put it mildly.

    That it could even be considered that people are valiant or Christlike in spirit before they even come to the earth.

    That children grow up and go to the temples to understand better the sacred mystery of their divine natures . . . what they have forgotten from the preceding side of the veil. Who they really are.

    Secondly, what do the “divine qualities” encompass? Some LDS might believe in omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, etc. Others might believe so with more tapered definitions. So what qualities do you strive after in this life? All that is the essence of God? That would be quite a job description.

  3. Our hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is to become joint heirs with Christ to all that our Heavenly Father has and is. Our understanding of ourselves as spirit children of God is very enlightening and enriches our lives. We are eternally grateful that the Bible supports the doctrine that God is our Heavenly Father and that we are his spirit children. Through baptism, we are adopted as Christ’s. This is also a very humbling and enlightening knowledge that the Restored Gospel brings us.

  4. “That children grow up and go to the temples to understand better the sacred mystery of their divine natures . . . what they have forgotten from the preceding side of the veil. Who they really are.”

    Yes. It’s a beautiful thing.

    “If there is anything praiseworthy, or of good report, we seek after these things.”

    Basically, if it’s a good thing, why shouldn’t we be pursuing it?

  5. This is why my daughter is going to be screwed up, along with any future children I may have. She’s going to have her father telling her she’s divine by nature and her mother telling her she’s depraved by nature and so is everyone else.

    Oh well. At least she’ll have Veggie Tales.

  6. If your husband ends up teaching her orthodox LDS doctrine, the difference will be a little less severe: she has a divine nature that is clouded by the effects of the Fall and that she will be able to discover little by little as she succeeds in relying on the Grace of Christ to allow her to put off the natural [wo]man. Fully embracing the Atonement will allow it to cleanse her and make her become the being she has the potential to become.

  7. And through embracing the Atonement, these little LDS daughters strive and strive so that they might recover the the full glory of their divine natures? so that they might be Goddesses someday in eternity? and so that they might create from preexisting materials new divine natures, etc.?

    Even though everyone has beautiful divine natures, the catch is that all the action of the divine natures is a “might”.

    A maybe. It depends on how hard you strive to develop.

    —–

    But you can’t be in essence, God, precious little daughter. Maybe someone from the top in the Church might have the courage to finally say this to you.

    And then you can lower your furrowed little brow and say, “Phew.”

  8. We always try to project our own moral agenda onto kids. Kind of like those cheesy right-wing chain emails where some cherubic little six year old tells his elementary school teacher why Bush’s tax cuts were obviously the “right thing to do.”

    What the kid is really thinking is – “I wonder if he’s got another lollipop in his pocket.”

  9. Messing spiritually with the mind of a little six-old-year old deserves a sudden millstone on the neck and a watery death sentence.

    My fourth little child just turned seven. He thinks of lollipops, but he thinks of God, too, Seth.

    And what if I told him this weekend: “Micaiah, you have inherited the qualities of God. Now strive to develop them.”

  10. I’m not sure I’m with you on this one, Todd. I can see how teaching young children that they have inherent divine qualities can be a burden to them, but I think Mormons would say that teaching our children that they are inherently sinful is a burden as well. You’re appalled at the Mormon view on the subject, but I’ve heard plenty of Mormons express disgust at the Protestant view on it.

    For my own situation, one of the books I read as a teenager not long after I turned 16 and re-committed my life to Christ was Stomping Out the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson and Dave Park. The book stressed heavily that once you accept Christ, you are a new person and a child of God called and set apart from the world. Knowing that I was now a daughter of God with the power of the Holy Spirit in me was monumental to helping me move past years of abuse by my parents and peers and embrace who I really was.

    I doubt my husband and I will see eye to eye on what our daughter is before her faith in Christ. However, since I personally mingle sanctification with the more traditional doctrine of theosis, I think we will be able to come to some sort of agreement that once she receives Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, she has divine qualities and can be clothed from on high with the power of the Spirit.

  11. “Messing spiritually with the mind of a little six-old-year old deserves a sudden millstone on the neck and a watery death sentence.”

    I’ve come to expect accusatory tone from you Todd, but I hope this time I’m reading you wrong. Way wrong.

  12. Jack, that’s an interesting take. I wonder, in your view, what are the practical implications of the differences between your and your husband’s views? I don’t mean the theological implications of being the same species as God, etc., I mean specifically the divine versus depraved by nature question. From what you say, it sounds like once your daughter believes in Christ her nature is changed, thus she can look for the divine within her. Whether she had divinity before that or not doesn’t really matter; if she did (i.e., if your husband is right) but didn’t believe it, she wouldn’t have been looking for it anyway.

  13. Todd, I find it hard to believe that you think it’s so horrible for us to teach children that they are children of God and that he is their Heavenly Father. I can pretty confidently say that you are going to win over only very, very few Mormons with that outlook (that unless you teach children they are fundamentally depraved then you are spiritually abusing them and deserve to have a millstone put around your neck and drowned).

    To each his own, I suppose, but I should point out that a very cogent case could be made that teaching children that they are evil and filthy for just being born could be construed as unhealthy to their development of their self-image.

  14. Todd: I suggest that you teach your daughter that the fullness of the Godhead can dwell within her just just as it dwells in Christ. Teach her that she can be one just as the Father and the Son are one. Teach her that in this indwelling of divine glory she will share the very mind of Christ and be empowered with divine power and knowledge. Teach her that her mortal and carnal nature can be deified by being Christified. Teach her that God loves her so much that he has already given her everything that he has and is willing to share his kingdom with her. Teach her that she can be perfect in Christ.

    It is a view that should blow your mind! If you ask, I will back every statement here with scriptures from the NT that say essentially what I have just said — but I know that you already know these scriptures. That is why the doctrine of deification is a call to love others just as God loves us with a divine love.

  15. Blake, I have two daughters. And I do teach them that (just not with “the restored gospel” meaning), all of it; and it does blow my mind. The old Todd Wood was dominated by evil. I was a slave. I was in darkness. But God in the flesh set me free. I am now a partaker (2 Peter 1:4). I am in Christ, one with Christ (rapturous, sweet union that swallows up all other relationships), and a joint heir. The eternal riches in Ephesians stagger me.

    Our church family will probably spend this whole year, each Sunday morning, on what Jesus is teaching in John 14, John 15, John 16, and John 17.

    John, you would be proud of most evangelicals. Whole shelves in the Christian bookstores deal with self-image. It is all about self-improvement.

    Brian, the sober accusations began with Joseph Smith.

    BJM, there are many doctrines that Mormonism holds in disgust. Yet in the I-15 Corridor, Mormonism can never be regarded as Anti-Evangelicalism. It’s ironic.

  16. Brian ~ I don’t know if I would say that her nature is changed upon belief in Christ. Seems to me like we always struggle with our human natures. However, with the Spirit as our guide and companion, we have a greater capacity to resist temptation, and I think having God the Spirit dwelling within each believer is terribly significant. You can say that once you believe and receive the Spirit you have a part of God in you.

    Todd ~ I know some Mormons abuse the term, but in my book anti-Mormonism or being an anti-Mormon is about activism, not attitude, and the same would go for theoretical anti-evangelicalism. Evangelicals who have nasty attitudes towards LDS doctrines but don’t do anything about it aren’t anti-Mormons, they’re just jerks with a bad attitude towards another religion. The same goes for Mormons who say they’re disgusted by evangelical beliefs.

  17. “there are many doctrines that Mormonism holds in disgust. Yet in the I-15 Corridor, Mormonism can never be regarded as Anti-Evangelicalism. It’s ironic.”

    Todd, I hold your comment about hanging a millstone around my neck in disgust, but that doesn’t make me anti-Todd.

  18. Jack: I see that I misspoke about one’s nature being changed. What do you see as the difference between what you call depraved nature and what your husband would call the natural man?

  19. Brian, I pray regularly and publicly with the church family that God keep me from offending the little ones by wrong spiritual teaching, where I might be distracting or leading them away from the real truth of God. And the judgment for teachers in the book of James should make anyone think twice before jumping into such positions. It makes my knees quake.

    You might not be an anti-Todd, but I am an anti to the sinful part in Todd. I know who I am in Christ, a new creature, accepted in the Beloved, partaker of the divine, but there yet remains a residue of the old Todd Wood that was at one time buried with Christ. It is a daily ongoing all-out-war with my sinful thoughts, emotions, and actions. I must have gospel grace every moment. The error within me is continually my first target. The falsehood around me is a close second.

    But I promise you that I will not put the metaphor of millstones into action. If you come visit me in Idaho Falls, I won’t seek to send you to the bottom of the Snake River. Actually, I will ask you where I can take you [your family] for dinner.

  20. Todd: do you have a Cafe Rio in Idaho Falls? WWJD = WhereWouldJesusDine?

    Jack: she didn’t hit you in the lip, she hit the depraved part of you in the lip. She is clearly an angel.

  21. Hey, I heard a song on the radio today. I didn’t catch the title, but here are some phrases . . .

    “Raised in heaven” . . .

    “Tutored at Thy side” . . .

    “I have forgotten who I am” . . .

    Does this ring a bell with anyone? What would be the name of the LDS song?

  22. Jack: I’d say wait till MMA goes co-ed, if it hasn’t already, then sign the kid up. Go with the flow, and you can retire, early, on your kid’s “ground and pound” skills.

    Just a thot.

    GERMIT

    Blake:
    Teach her that her mortal and carnal nature can be deified by being Christified.

    Romans 6 thru 8 shows the futility of this rather plainly, in my understanding. Our old nature gets “death”, not reform.

  23. Blake: thanks for the heads up on Phil 3:21; I think 1stCor 15:43,44 are good parallel verses….would you agree ?? These (Phil and 1st cor both) are referencing the PHYSICAL body , which will not be annihilated, but transformed and glorified. This says nothing about the ‘lower nature” or the “sin nature”. I am not a dualist, the physical is not bad, but the sin nature sure is.

    as for Romans…

    ch6:v.6 ….knowing this, that our old self was crucified wit HIM, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

    the ev. positition on this is that we, as believers ‘died with Christ” so that we might “live with Christ”… Romans 6:6 seems to say this plainly; what am I missing here??

    Peace and rest on all who trust in the LAMB’s blood
    GERMIT

  24. Germit: I don’t know that we have much of a disagreement here. We would both agree that there is a “nature” that must be overcome or which must die; but it is not our physical nature. By carnal nature I take it that the scriptures are merely referring to the body as such — the sarx in Greek or the carne in Latin both of which mean essentially just a physical body. But the physical body itself isn’t the problem. Instead, this physical body will be transformed to the image of Christ.

    I would add that when I hear folks like Todd proclaim that he is “now a partaker” [in the divine nature] and already sanctified, I am rather sure that he is confusing sanctification with justification as evangelicals parse it. Todd may claim to be justified — to have entered into a saving relationship with Christ — but sanctification is a process that takes a lifetime and takes our synergistic cooperation with God’s work in us.

    I also think that evangelicals rather consistently miss the point of judgment by works. We are in fact saved by accepting Christ (which includes baptism as the sign he has designated as the way to enter into a covenant relationship with him). However, we are judged according to our works in the flesh. Whether we stand with Christ in the last judgment requires enduring to the end. The reward we receive is according to works — except to the extent that the reward is alway disproportionate to what we merit. We alway have greater reward than we merit in the judgment — but the judgment is based on our works nonetheless. The glory that we enjoy in the resurrection is dependent on what we do once we are in Christ. It seems that this rather clear Pauline teaching get muddled rather consistently in the evangelical emphasis on salvation by grace.

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