General LDS Information
Basic LDS Beliefs
LDS Videos
Critics' Questions
Submitted Questions
Scriptures/LDS Literature
LDS Temples
Music and Arts
LDS Online Stores
Priesthood, Humor, Miscel.
Site Map

Suggest a Site
Now accepting banner ads!

Bookmark and Share

LEHI - I read a book by Cleon Skousen named 'A gospel trology'. There are some interesting informations there about the purpose of the atonement and the organization of intelligences. I searched about it on the internet and found out that many LDS disapprove what bother Skousen taught.
Can you tell me anything about it? Is there any sayings by general authorities regarding this? Is his theory accepted or not by leaders in the church?
Brother Skousen also mentions that he learned these things with his mission president Elder Widtsoe. Are there talks or quotes from Elder Widtsoe about this topic?

JOEL - I have never read that book but I have seen what was identified as a fireside in Safford, Arizona where he gave a talk called “the Real Meaning of the Atonement” where he talks about intelligences. It is mostly speculation based on his own opinion and some things Brigham Young and other prophets said on the subject. The problem is that he advances his ideas about the subject of intelliences as if it were established doctrine when it is not. He also tries to address the existance and nature of intelligences using scientific analysis in a rather incohernt way.

The fact is there is very little that has been revealed about intelligences. Joseph Fielding Smith said about this:
"Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created nor made. This intelligence combined [even that is speculation] with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual." (Progress of Man, p. 11)

For your information I have found a few references from Elder Widtsoe:

"The supreme Being of the universe transcends the human understanding. His intelligence is as the sum of all other intelligences. There can be no rational discussion of the details of God's life or nature. To him we give the most complete devotion, for to us he is in all respects infinite and perfect. His Godhood, however, is the product of simple obedience to the laws of the universe. (John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology, 7th ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1965), pp. 24-26)

In his book "The Intelligence of Man," Elder Widtsoe wrote:
"To speculate upon the condition of man when conscious life was just dawning is most interesting, but so little is known about that far-off day that such speculation is profitless. Nevertheless, of somethings pertaining to the beginning we are fairly certain. The being which later became man, even in the first day possessed intelligence. That is, he was able to become aware of the external universe, to learn, and by adding knowledge to knowledge, to learn more. ... And an intelligent being in the midst of the interaction of forces and matter, must have become aware, measurably, of what was going on. From the beginning, the ego of man has been a conscious being, saying to itself, "This is I; that is not I. This life is apart from the life of all the rest of the universe." He also contends that intelligence from the beginning had "an independent and individual will" ("The Intelligence of Man," Elder Widtsoe).

Some things he said in his book that the First Presidency had specifically asked him to take out (among other things) was the statement that "God himself must be finite and may not always have been God or have existed eternally in the same state." Elder Widtsoe had "included an explicit statement that there was a time when there was no God" (Alexander, Thomas G. "The Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine." Sunstone (May 1985) 10:11-14.).

The fact that the First Presidency asked Elder Widstoe to remove things from his book is an indication that some of what he said was personal opinion not supported by revealed doctrine.

From the Improvement Era Elder Widstoe said:
"The intelligence of God is organized; therein lies his individuality and life. Man is organized intelligence; therein lies his life. Through obedience to law, intelligence grows; by the violation of law, which is sin, it decays. It is the degree of organized intelligence that ultimately distinguishes one man from other men; men from beasts, beasts from plants, and plants from rocks. Since intelligence, as defined by Joseph Smith, corresponds with the main form of energy of the universe, the doctrine of God, and all other beings, and of life, finds expression in terms of energy. That is exactly what science demands." (IMPROVEMENT ERA, 1905)


"The Church does set up, however, the doctrine that there are found in the universe personal individual intelligences. Each of these is characterized by the possession of a will, which may be used by the individual in the attempt to accomplish a definite purpose. These intelligences have the power to operate upon the other contents of the universe—matter or energy—and must be placed by the side of matter and energy as constant ingredients of the universe.
Such personal intelligences are found on earth. Among them are the men and women forming the human family. Personal intelligences are also found in the invisible or spirit world, and constitute the intelligent portion of the "unseen world."

The personal intelligences of the universe are also indestructible. They are also eternal "elements" of existence. That implies that man, one of these personal intelligences, is eternal, everlasting. He "was also in the beginning with God" (D.& C. 29:31, 32; 76:12, 13; 49:17; Moses 3:5-7), therefore of eternal duration, into the ages backward as forward from life on earth.

As a necessary deduction from this doctrine, man lived before he came upon earth. He had a preexistent life. Preexistence is a settled doctrine of the Church, which helps to explain many things connected with earth life, which otherwise would seem difficult to comprehend." (Program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1936)

Return to top
Return to Questions