"Free Agency"

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Ian
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"Free Agency"

Post by Ian »

we used to say “free agency,” but in recent years, we have received helpful instruction regarding agency and freedom. i think this is a challenging topic, because the words seem to be used interchangeably by the prophets.

in 1987, elder oaks taught about the difference between agency and freedom. agency is the power to choose. agency cannot be taken away in mortality. freedom is the power to act upon choices. freedom can be taken away in mortality, by physical laws, by our own action, or by the action of others, including governments.

in 1992, president packer taught that the phrase “free agency” does not appear in scripture.

in 2003, president uchtdorf taught that there is actually no “free” agency. agency has a price. we must pay the consequences of our choices. agency was purchased with the price of Christ’s suffering.

in 2006, elder christofferson taught: “In years past, we generally used the term free agency. That is not incorrect, but more recently we have taken note that free agency does not appear as an expression in the scriptures.” he taught that the word "agency" appears in the scriptures only by itself, or with the modifier, “moral.” when we use the term “moral agency,” rather than “free agency,” we emphasize the accountability that comes with agency. he also taught that moral agency has three elements: 1. alternatives (or, opposition); 2. knowledge of the alternatives; and 3. freedom to make choices.

so, it seems that freedom is an element of, but not the same as, agency, and we should probably not use the term “free agency” anymore, to avoid misunderstanding. please feel free to correct me.
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John
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Re: "Free Agency"

Post by John »

I believe you to be correct.
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Lily
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Re: "Free Agency"

Post by Lily »

This is helpful, thank you.
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Steve
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Re: "Free Agency"

Post by Steve »

This is my understanding as well. Thanks, Ian.
When God can do what he will with a man, the man may do what he will with the world.     ~George MacDonald
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Tuly
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Re: "Free Agency"

Post by Tuly »

This is a talk by Lynn G Robbins - Be 100 Percent Responsible , who I believe was released as a seventy in the April General Conference. I found this talk be instructive in helping me understand agency better. Elder Robbins, is correct in saying that Satan does confuse us when it comes to agency and responsibility.

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/lynn-g-r ... sponsible/


THE KORIHOR PRINCIPLE—SEPARATING AGENCY FROM RESPONSIBILITY
One of Satan’s most crafty strategies to gain control of our agency isn’t a frontal attack on our agency but a sneaky backdoor assault on responsibility. Without responsibility, every good gift from God could be misused for evil purposes. For example, freedom of speech without responsibility can be used to create and protect pornography. The rights of a woman can be twisted to justify an unnecessary abortion. When the world separates choice from accountability, it leads to anarchy and a war of wills or survival of the fittest. We could call agency without responsibility the Korihor principle, as we read in the book of Alma “that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17; emphasis added). With negative consequences removed, you now have agency unbridled, as if there were no day of reckoning.

THE NEHOR PRINCIPLE—DENYING JUSTICE
If Satan is not successful in fully separating agency from responsibility, one of his backup schemes is to dull or minimize feelings of ­responsibility—what we could call the Nehor principle, also found in the book of Alma: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble . . . ; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4).

What an attractive offer for those who seek happiness in wickedness! The Nehor principle depends entirely on mercy and denies justice—a separation of the second doctrinal pair aforementioned. Denying justice is a twin of avoiding responsibility. They are essentially the same thing. A common strategy of each Book of Mormon anti-Christ was to separate agency from responsibility. “Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin” (2 Nephi 28:8).

Faith without works, mercy without justice, and agency without responsibility are all different verses of the same seductive and damning song. With each, the natural man rejects accountability in an attempt to sedate his conscience. It is similar to the early sixteenth-century practice of paying for indulgences, but much easier—this way it is free!2 No wonder the broad path is filled with so many. The path parades a guilt-free journey to ­salvation but is, in reality, a cleverly disguised detour to destruction (see 3 Nephi 14:13).

Agency without responsibility is one of the foremost anti-Christ doctrines—very cunning in its nature and very destructive in its results.

THE ANTI-RESPONSIBILITY LIST
To illustrate, I want to share a list of things that Satan tempts people to either say or do to avoid being responsible. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but I believe it covers his most common tactics.

1. Blaming others: Saul disobediently took of the spoils of war from the Amalekites; then, when confronted by Samuel, he blamed the people (see 1 Samuel 15:21).

2. Rationalizing or justifying: Saul then rationalized or justified his disobedience, stating that the saved livestock was for “sacrifice unto the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:21; see also verse 22).

3. Making excuses: Excuses come in a thousand varieties, such as this one from Laman and Lemuel: “How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?” (1 Nephi 3:31).

4. Minimalizing or trivializing sin: This is exactly what Nehor advocated (see Alma 1:3–4).

5. Hiding: This is a common avoidance technique. It is a tactic Satan used with Adam and Eve after they partook of the forbidden fruit (see Moses 4:14).

6. Covering up: Closely associated with hiding is covering up, which David attempted to do to conceal his affair with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12:9, 12).

7. Fleeing from responsibility: This is something Jonah tried to do (see Jonah 1:3).

8. Abandoning responsibility: Similar to fleeing is abandoning responsibility. One example is when Corianton forsook his ministry in pursuit of the harlot Isabel (see Alma 39:3).

9. Denying or lying: “And Saul said . . . : I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears . . . ?” (1 Samuel 15:13–14).

10. Rebelling: Samuel then rebuked Saul “for rebellion.” “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).

11. Complaining and murmuring: One who rebels also complains and murmurs: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and . . . said . . . , Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!” (Numbers 14:2).

12. Finding fault and getting angry: These two are closely associated, as described by Nephi: “And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel” (1 Nephi 3:28).

13. Making demands and entitlements: “We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us. And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness” (1 Nephi 18:10–11).

14. Doubting, losing hope, giving up, and quitting: “Our brother is a fool. . . . For they did not believe that I could build a ship” (1 Nephi 17:17–18).

15. Indulging in self-pity and a victim ­mentality: “Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy” (1 Nephi 17:21).

16. Being indecisive or being in a spiritual ­stupor: The irony with indecision is that if you don’t make a decision in time, time will make a decision for you.

17. Procrastinating: A twin of indecision is ­procrastination. “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late” (Helaman 13:38).

18. Allowing fear to rule: This one is also related to hiding: “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth. . . . His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:25–26).

19. Enabling: An example of enabling or ­helping others to avoid responsibility is the instance when Eli failed to discipline his sons for their grievous sins and was rebuked by the Lord: “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and . . . honourest thy sons above me . . . ? (1 Samuel 2:29; see also verses 22–36).
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection,... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
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Re: "Free Agency"

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When God can do what he will with a man, the man may do what he will with the world.     ~George MacDonald
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