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Monday, May 24, 2004

THE Existential Question 

by Christina
That's right, I want to address the big one: from an LDS doctrinal perspective, what is the purpose of earthly life in the context of the doctrine of immortality? Just what we likely are all pondering on a Monday . . . Here is my understanding of the setup and why I think it is circular. Of course, we have the classic Moses 1:39, where God tells Moses, "[t]his is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [sic]." Supplemental explanations include 2 Nephi 2:25: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (I'll dispense with all the "sics" but let's take these statements to include women)

I assume in this space that we believe that the purpose of this life is to come unto Christ, to understand his great and expansive plan for the salvation of all human beings born into this world and to live that plan, thereby gaining salvation through serving Him and our fellow persons. I'm on board with this. I believe we gain great joy in living the gospel as it is set forth in our scriptures and many of our church teachings, and I'll even buy that living that gospel can bring "salvation," to God's children, whatever that actually entails. Next comes death, judgment and for those who have come to know Christ, salvation (and, I believe, eventually that salvation comes for everyone, or nearly everyone, as we continue to progress). We don't know much specifically about what salvation entails, but we do believe in eternal progression, much like Origen and even the great Athanasius (too bad about the Nicene creed), that we can progress to the point of deification.

What I wonder about is if the point of this life is to come to know Christ and to be saved in his name, and then the purpose of immortality is eternal progression (should we continue to exercise our will to that end), then in what sense do we progress? Everything we know about salvation and spiritual progression in this life comes in the context of following Christ. Are we talking about eternally progressing through some spheres of understanding the overarching principles of existence? What are those principles? Do those also come through Christ? What exactly is the purpose of becoming gods with eternal progeny, only to replicate the process endlessly? Is anyone curious about these things?

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