Ep30-Sin and the Uncircumcised Heart (Pt 1)- The Problems of Theism & The Love of God Ch 5

Topics Discussed:
• LDS Light on Original Sin
• Epistemological Assumptions of Moral Obligation

Show Notes:


“LDS Light on Original Sin”

“The picture of original sin in LDS thought that emerges becomes clear. Adam has been forgiven of his sin in the garden and thus it is not a part of his “nature” that can be passed on to progeny (even if sin could be passed onto progeny). Little children are born into this world innocent.

“What do we inherit at birth that explains the fact that, when we reflect on our actions, we find that we have always already sinned? First, we are born into a world already vitiated by traditions, evil choices, habits, and patterns of familial conduct that cause us to lose the innocence or “light” that characterized our prebirth spiritual natures.”

“Second, at birth we receive mortal bodies that present an “opposition” or challenge to our eternal spiritual nature. The danger we confront is twofold.”

1 biological dispositions 2 egocentric and limited view of reality

“We are tempted by bodily passions to engage in conduct that is selfish and which injures our relationships. We are born into a situation in which God’s presence is not obvious and can be known only if we trust something other than our bodily senses. We risk never learning to trust anything other than our senses; in this sense, we become “carnal and sensual,” or focused on the body and its sense experience. We also risk being overrun by our bodies’ needs, appetites, and passions”

“The key is that human nature is defined by the ultimate desires of our hearts and not by the flesh, for we have been made “free according to the flesh” to choose which nature will be characteristic of us (Alma 42:27).”

“Thus, “original sin” refers to those “sins” that arise from a vitiated nature, a nature that is not the total reality of human existence but that presents a truth about the circumstances into which we are born and the way we actually choose to live our lives as we grow”

“We have always already acted so as to injure relationships and create barriers of alienation between us and others by the time we can see what we have done. We find that we have always already turned away from God.”

“it may seem that LDS scripture adopts the same position as Arminianism that we would be guilty of original sin but for the Atonement. However, that is not what the LDS scriptures teach. Rather, they teach that we would not be free to choose for ourselves if there had been no atonement.”

“Thus, LDS scriptures adopt a view of hypothetical moral impotence and addiction to sin as a result of the fall of Adam but reject the notion that we can be morally culpable for the acts of another. The doctrine of inherited evil in LDS thought is not about inheriting the moral culpability of another but about our total inability to act as moral agents at all.”

“the Book of Mormon indeed promulgates a concept of “original sin,” but it is a “hypothetical original sin” which does not actually affect persons unless they freely reject the Atonement and choose sin.”

“The message of the LDS scriptures is that, because of the Atonement we are not merely stuck in our past, in our habits and addictions. We are free to choose. However, the LDS scriptures also make clear that, to the extent we choose these ways of being and acting, we will become enslaved to sin once again. That is, if I sin after having been freed, then I am enslaved in sin again. For example, if I am an alcoholic and I have not imbibed for several years but if I take another drink, then even though I have been free of alcohol for several years, I am once again enslaved to alcoholism.”

“Epistemological Assumptions of Moral Obligation”

“There must be a basis in human experience to sense or know the demands of morality independently of knowledge of a moral or ethical theory. Otherwise, very few persons could be morally responsible, for very few could articulate a moral theory. LDS scripture teaches that every person is born with the light of Christ as a universal grace from God, for it “enlighteneth every man” and “quickeneth your understandings” and constitutes “the law that I have given unto you, even the law of Christ” (D&C 88:11, 21).”
“Epistemological Assumptions of Moral Obligation”

“LDS scripture teaches that every person is born with the light of Christ as a universal grace from God, for it “enlighteneth every man” and “quickeneth your understandings” and constitutes “the law that I have given unto you, even the law of Christ” (D&C 88:11, 21). Every person is thus enlightened by this light from Christ to know the “law.” The Book of Mormon also taught that everyone knows good and evil as a result of the spirit of Christ that dwells within us: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:16).”

“we may distinguish three kinds of goodness in LDS thought within the context of an agape theory of ethics.”

1) “First there is what I shall call “objective goodness,” which consists of an act or state of affairs that in fact promotes the greatest mutual well-being of persons in relationship with each other. In the agape theory of ethics and LDS thought, the greatest mutual well-being arises from a relationship of loving unity in which persons seek the best interest of each other. Doing what is good out of a sense of love is literally divine.

2) There is also a “goodness of the heart,” which arises when an agent does what is good gladly and for its own sake. That is, the agent performs an act or refrains from acting because it is in the best interest of others that he do so, and enhancing the well-being of others brings the agent joy and satisfaction.

3) There is also “subjective goodness,” which consists in doing or attempting to do what the agent believes to be good despite any mistake in the agent’s factual beliefs or moral principles guiding his conduct.”

“There are also three types of goodness of character that correspond to these three types of goodness. ”

1)“There is a kind of goodness that characterizes an agent who is naturally disposed to do good for others because it is good to do so. The person who is inclined to do acts simply because they are good and benefit others has established a good character by making choices of beneficence over a period of time. ”

2) “There is also the goodness of an agent whose moral beliefs are in fact correct.”

3) “Finally, there is a goodness in being naturally disposed to do acts that are good as the agent sees it whether the other is benefitted or not.”...but “Love seeks to actually benefit others, not merely to try to do so.”

We need to change " do unto others as you would have them do unto you' to ' to unto others as they would have done unto them' i.e. actually do things that make them happy not things that would make you happy.

“The view that God has implanted the knowledge of the law in our hearts is key to this approach. In some sense, we already know the law of God because it is already in us. Yet we are blind to these truths we know because of “uncircumcised” or hard hearts or being closed to others. The concept seems to be that God has given us an instrument of knowledge in our very hearts:
And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord they God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. . . .
For his commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. (Deut. 30:11–14)

“it is imperative in understanding what follows to grasp the concept of a “felt moral imperative.” Explain....


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