The doctrines contained in the Book of Abraham have been endlessly contested. I’ve doubtless spent far too long trying to understand it. Yet an endeavour to do so is well worth the effort. We are in the midst of a spiritual warfare, and understanding the nature and cause of this war can only strengthen our resolve to do all things the Lord our God commands.
I have always been of the belief that the war in heaven as recorded in Revelation 12 occurred after New Testament times. I am still convinced of this, but have paid particular attention to the reasons others have considered otherwise; and in doing so, I believe to have stumbled upon a way to look at both interpretations and make sense of the two.
“And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” (Abr 3:27-28)
This occurred before the creation of the earth. Although Satan was angry to have not been chosen, it does not appear as though the rebellion or war began at that point, only that there were many who followed after him.
Even this verse suggests the same if the exact manner of language used is emphasized: “By the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down.” (Moses 4:3)
I apply a futuristic reading to the phraseology because this interpretation is the only way for the Book of Revelation to not contradict its scriptural counterparts. John the Revelator was shown and wrote, “things which must shortly come to pass,” (1:2) which indicates that his revelation did not pertain to things which have already transpired.
The reason individuals conclude the war in heaven has already taken place is because the Doctrine and Covenants does in fact say so. And why? Because that book of scripture arrived on scene after John the Revelator, after the war in heaven!
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon proclaimed: “He is fallen! Is fallen, even a son of the morning.” (76:27)
Jesus said that he “beheld” Satan fall, but surely this had reference to his power to see the future. Joseph and Sidney were definitively making clear that Satan was no longer found in heaven by the time of their vision recorded in 1832.
In 1830 we read that the war in heaven had taken place. (Section 29)
In 1831 we are told that Satan himself is abroad in the land. (Section 52)
With the arrival of Satan on earth, the war in heaven had completed. Revelation 12:8 is thus fulfilled with the devil and his angels no longer found in heaven. The war rages on, but from 1831 onward the setting is here on earth.
I used to believe that the devil and his angels came to the earth to receive bodies, but I have departed from this. I am not softening my position to conform to the generally accepted narrative, but have come to an even more radical position.
“The devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency. And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels.” (D&C 29:36-37)
Originally, I accepted those who followed Satan in the pre-existence to come to earth and participate in mortal probation after the war in heaven. This is logical and makes the most sense. However, there’s a verse from the Book of Moses that I cannot get out of my head: “I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency.” (7:32)
The third part of heaven could only follow Satan due to their agency, but the Book of Moses implies that agency only existed from the point of mortal probation. Taking this verse seriously, I readjusted my stance and concluded that those who followed Satan chose to follow him during mortal probation and not in the pre-existence. So those who became the devil and his angels only became such during the temporal existence of this earth, once they received agency. But this is problematic. Satan was clearly acting as an agent unto himself before he got a chance to live mortality. He was tempting Adam and Eve and Cain before an opportunity to come to earth could have arisen.
And if the angels of Satan chose that path during this life how did they end up back in heaven to get cast out?
Before the creation of the earth, Satan was angry for not being chosen, “and at that day many followed after him.” (Abr 3:28)
Even if the war in heaven happened after John the Revelator wrote about it, the hosts of heaven had clearly began following Satan long before the rebellion. How could they have done so when God has declared that this happened due to the agency given unto them? The devil and his angels had already participated in a mortal probation and were resurrected beings before the creation of the particular earth we reside on.
There were three groups that composed heaven.
The celestial gods.
The spirits who did not have bodies yet.
And the terrestrial angels who followed Satan.
The first portion of heaven could not have followed Satan because they were glorified gods. The second portion did not even have the agency to choose. The third portion who followed Satan in the pre-existence had to have been terrestrial souls who could bear the presence of the Son but were still capable of falling from their positions before God, having not assimilated into a fulness of the Father.
Abraham saw that in the pre-existent realm there were both souls and spirits. Abraham was designated as having been one of the spirits, not one of the souls. D&C 88:15 tells us that a soul consists of both body and spirit, which proves that Abraham saw resurrected beings already having existed. This falls in line with Section 121 which speaks of, “the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was.” (verse 32) These gods had to have gone through mortality already because they would have had to have tabernacles to exist eternally as gods. Clearly the earth we reside on is not the first creation.
The devil and his angels were not gods, because the sons of God will, “dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.” (76:62)
The spirits who have come to this earth are not involved in the war in heaven. They did not have the capacity to follow Satan when he became angry nor did they rebel alongside him when they were cast out. Many spirits on this earth nonetheless will side with Satan once they have agency. “They are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them to never have been born; for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels.” (76:32-33)
Followers of Satan in this life are differentiated from the devil and his angels, but will have the same fate.
A verse that seems to imply that followers of Satan in this life followed Satan in the pre-existence is what leads us to an extremely uncomfortable doctrine that will not be readily accepted.
Cain is told, “For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.” (Moses 5:25)
If Cain was consigned to be a son of perdition before the creation of our world and yet then did not have the agency to choose Satan previously, this means that God organized spirits that would never repent and undoubtedly hearken to Satan.
These spirits were necessary components for the plan of salvation and the opposition in all things which create the fabric of our mortal experience.
Our eternal potential is determined by our spiritual creation, for all things are done in the wisdom of God. The celestial are called according to his purpose and predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:28-29)
The gods created this earth to “prove” the spirits. It was not to test them, because they already knew the good spirits—of whom the likes of Abraham were—would follow God. They knew who would keep their first estates and who would graduate in keeping their second.
If the devil and his angels were terrestrial angels, this unlocks a new meaning for the first and second estates. The scriptures do not use the word “estate” to describe a place; but rather, a state of being. Receiving a mortal body as a first estate and then a resurrected body as our second is far more likely, but having accepted Satan to have already received a resurrected body does not make sense of the Book of Abraham, which tells us that when Satan became angry he did not keep his first estate.
The conclusion I’m left with:
The first estate – the unsanctified
The second estate – the sanctified
Those who are unsanctified will be “added upon”—yet if they do not keep this estate and are not added upon will go into outer darkness and not have glory. Those who receive sanctification and keep that second estate will have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.
Although we can receive the second estate/position before God in this life, there is a chance to fall and not keep our sanctification. Until we receive a celestial inheritance, there is a possibility that we can fall from grace and depart from the living God.
Satan and his angels did not have their second estates in the eternities which is why there they could only lose their first.
I am open to the belief that terrestrial souls can become sanctified in the hereafter and join the celestial gods. It makes sense to me that if they do not become celestial they will eventually become future angels to a future devil during the eventual creations of other worlds.
Lastly, I want to address the doctrine of the atonement and how this pertains to concepts on multiple worlds. This realm of thinking is a breeding ground for dangerous ideas, usually resulting in ideas of endless strings of capital-G gods and redeemers other than the Savior spoken of in our scriptures.
“And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:32–33)
Although there are many worlds—so many they cannot even be numbered unto the comprehension of man—they were all made by Jesus Christ.
The narrative of the Book of Abraham wherein other gods participate in the creation of our earth does not conflict with this in light of Section 76: “He is the Only Begotten of the Father—that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created.” (23-24)
The gods only act through the direction of Christ.
Section 76 also highlights that worlds will continue to be created in this manner. Nowhere is it said that future worlds will be created outside the dominion of Christ. The only begotten Son, “glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands.” (verse 42)
Jesus Christ is the redeemer of all peoples of all worlds.
Do those on other earths read the scriptures and accounts of Christ’s ministry on our earth? Do they read of his atonement having took place on another planet?
I find it reasonable to expect the infinite and eternal atonement to be taking place continuously. The eternal nature of his atonement suggests it is always happening. The Savior will condescend to all worlds and perform the atonement forever and ever.
In any case, regardless of interpretation, there is no diverging from the truth that Jesus Christ of whom we know came to this earth is the same Christ who saves all worlds.
Any belief other than this is the root of Satanism. The angel in authority became the devil once he considered there to be another way.