Friday, July 3, 2009

The God of Statistics -- Alma 42: 13

"Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God"

When God created the mortal universe, he wrapped it in a special barrier called statistics to protect it from the full force of divine will. Thus, in heaven, every act is met immediately with the exact and appropriate consequence: goodness returned with goodness, evil turning back on itself with evil. Pure mathematics. And yet to create a space for probation, the law of consequence on earth is diffracted through a prism of probabilities: we sometimes fail to immediately receive the physical blessings of our obedience, thus increasing our opportunity to exercise faith through agency, and we often fail to reap the full consequence of sin at once, giving us windows for repentance. Is there no justice in the world? God forbid. But God has loosened the effects of justice for a season, from certainty to probability, that we might repent before we return to see his face and live in perfect justice again.

1 comment:

  1. Any discussion of the question of justice on earth leads me back to the book of Job, and my current thought on the book of Job is this: Job doesn't receive justice because Job doesn't need justice in order to be just.

    Which is to say: An essential part of God's plan is to teach us that retributionary justice, in the sense of giving good for good and evil for evil, is far beneath the method God himself uses: to deal justly in all things.

    I think the real meaning of the ability "to act and not be acted upon" which Lehi describes as a chief purpose of mortality, is that we can learn, through Christ's Atonement, to have complete agency. It does not mean things will no longer happen to us, but it does mean that we will never let those things control our actions. We will be able to be just and holy in the rain or out of it. We will be honest whether others are honest or not. And to learn how to do this, to learn how to do right even when wrong is done to us, we had to live in a world where good and bad don't always reap their consequences immediately.



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