Thoughts on Agency

One reason the conservative movement has not succeeded in halting the trend toward the welfare state is lack of unity and lack of a definite philosophy. Although there have been an enormous number of people over the years who have spoken out strongly against each new program and each new innovation, somehow the opposition to centralized government has not been organized well enough to bring the trend to a halt.

I have wondered if it is because of a lack of certainty which I have observed among people. I have wondered if it is because we have been fighting delaying actions and making retreats instead of coming out boldly and positively in favor of a program of our own. I have wondered if our difficulty is because we do not have a definite program, a political philosophy to which we could subscribe whole-heartedly, one which we could explain to ourselves and to anyone else, one which was simple and uncomplicated, which could be applied immediately to any action of government.

I Have Undertaken To Construct A Philosophy Which Was A Part Of My Religious And Moral Beliefs—One Which I Had Complete Faith In And Could Give My All For.

I have attempted to construct for myself a theory of government, a philosophy of political science in which I had unquestioning faith. To do this I had to first realize that I was dealing with a problem which was perhaps transcendent above all other problems of my existence, since it dealt with my free agency.

I find it impossible to keep my political beliefs and my religious beliefs separate. Being a member of the L.D.S. Church and believing as I do in the scriptures of the Church, I accept as a fact the intervention of the Lord in setting up the Constitution of the United States and the further statement that it should be established forever. I believe that free agency is first and foremost a religious question and that my own attitude toward it may be the most important belief that I hold.

Realizing the deep concern which the Lord has about this matter of free agency and that He provided us with our agency in the first place, I have assumed, and I believe rightly so, that the Lord would have given us plenty of guidance in forming a political philosophy if we would go to the right place to find it.

This is one subject about which the Lord does not desire that we become confused. He has every reason in the world to give us guidance here, if we know enough to hunt it out and believe it. Just as in our pre-earth life, we may well be divided in the next life according to the degree to which we understand and accept the Lord’s plan of freedom as set forth in our scriptures and the words of our prophets. (Ogden Speech, / /1966)

What God Has Given Us In Providing Us With Free Agency Is The Power To Affect The Free Agency Of Others

When the Lord supplied us with these five elements of freedom: life, knowledge, the goods of this earth, freedom from restraint, and enticement to do good, He gave each one of us the power to provide others with exactly these same components.

He placed us in a position to act on our own to provide free agency for those around us. He gave us power to create life and to protect, as well as to preserve and sustain the lives of our children and others around us. He gave us the power to impart knowledge and to teach truths to others. He gave us the strength and energy of mind and body which enabled us to take the matter and energy of the earth and fashion them into commodities so that we could provide not only ourselves, but others with property, which is so necessary to the exercise of free agency. He gave us the power to provide freedom from restraint by supporting and maintaining a constitutional form of government. We can protect the weak and the helpless against the oppressor. Finally, He gave us the power to entice others to do good, to use gentle persuasion, long suffering, meekness, kindness, and love unfeigned.

Since it is God’s purpose to provide His children with free agency with the purpose of permitting us to have joy, only those of us who help Him carry out this plan will be given additional power and the opportunity to affect the free agency of others.

On the other hand, those of us whose purpose and desire it is to destroy freedom will be denied such additional power and opportunity. The prime illustration of this tremendous truth is provided by the story of Satan and the one third of the hosts of heaven who followed him in the pre-earth life. Their great sin was that they sought to destroy the agency of man which the Lord had given unto us. Because of this they were denied the opportunity to come to earth and have bodies and exercise these powers to affect the free agency which God has given us. From what I read in the scriptures, I have concluded that God is going to use exactly this same basis for judging us and assigning us to degrees of glory in the next life. (Personal Notes, / /1966)

We have an extremely interesting and instructive account as to how Satan induced 1 out of every 3 to follow him in the pre-earth life. According to Moses he wanted to redeem all mankind. Is there anything wrong with such a purpose? It was his method which would have defeated God’s purposes. He wanted to take away man’s free agency and to use compulsion and force. He also wanted everyone to worship him.

Doubtless Jesus wanted to redeem everyone also, but He said to His Father, “Thy will be done.” He understood the need to give man his free agency, for without it there is no progression. True, man will do evil as well as good, but He offered to die on the cross and atone for all of these sins.

Satan, in making his pitch, appealed to the pride and lust for power and a high place in his kingdom. Can’t you hear him saying that to trust us with our free agency would be folly because we weren’t smart enough to use it. We did not really know what was good for us. We must be controlled, governed and regulated by our superiors, his followers.

Whatever his methods, they were tragically effective. Now what will be his method here on earth? We can safely assume that he is presenting some worthy and desirable goals and a lot of glittering promises. We can expect that his method will be one of force and the abolition of free agency. He will be appealing to the proud and their lust for power. (Personal Notes, / /1970)

…there really is not much of an opportunity for us to display our true dispositions to abuse authority as individuals. Therefore, the Lord must devise another method whereby we can exercise unrighteous dominion without being immediately caught and punished for having done so, and without the fear of being ostracized from polite society.

Furthermore, the abuse of authority must not be so obvious. We must be able to deceive ourselves into believing that the abuse of power is good rather than evil. Or to put the matter otherwise, Satan must be able to deceive us into accepting his plan, which we have already rejected, without us realizing we are doing so.

We must have such an implicit faith in God and such an earnest desire to study the scriptures and to accept His council that we will go to His scriptures for guidance rather than to the philosophies of men. Finally, we must prove ourselves to be so devoted to justice and so concerned about the welfare of our fellow men, that we must be able to openly avow a faith in a philosophy which is unpopular and will subject us to ridicule and even to ostracism. (Personal Notes, 12/27/1978)

The parable of the 10 virgins indicates that one half of all pure LDS who are anxiously awaiting the Lord’s second coming will be found unworthy to enter the marriage feast. D&C 45:55-56 indicates that only those who:

  1. are wise;
  2. have received the truth;
  3. have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide; and
  4. have not been deceived, are eligible.

One is bound to ask: What vital gospel truth do some Church members know but others do not which is so vital to our eternal welfare that it would justify this decision? What falsehood could be so fundamentally wrong that a belief in it would bar us from the Celestial Kingdom?

Could it be that the five unwise virgins have been deceived into accepting Satan’s plan to destroy free agency? It was over this issue that a division was made in the pre-mortal life. Is it not probable that we would be required to recognize and fully reject that same plan here on earth before we could expect to inherit eternal life? (Journal, 6/22/1979)

Is man accountable unto the Lord for all his actions, including those committed in concert with others, for those involving force on humans, and for those through an agent? Any time man commits an unrighteous act he breaks the laws of God.

Not only does your every political decision involve the free agency of others, but that of numerous people. It is one thing to have a slave and to restrict the actions of a single person or a family. It is quite another to restrict the freedom of thousands or millions.

Are you to be held accountable for what you do through an agent? Then you must answer for what you do through government, because those in government are acting as your servants. You pay their salaries through your taxes. You elect them to office or refuse to elect them and you uphold or oppose what they do.

Suppose you are politically inactive. When you refuse to either support or uphold, then you have failed to accept the responsibility the Lord has placed upon you. You have neglected the greatest opportunity to exercise your freedom in this life. You have ignored the greatest battle for the souls of men that there is, the one involving free agency. Being free or being a member of a nation of freemen is not only a privilege but an obligation. (Notes for Book, 2/5/1981)

It is the Lord’s purposes which are being accomplished, not man’s. No matter how evil, wrong, and undesirable things may appear in our world, we should always remember that it is the Lord’s purposes that are being accomplished, not man’s. The pain, suffering, misery, and ignorance we observe are the result of the free agency which the Lord has given man. The Lord is doing all that is possible for us, taking into consideration the use men make of that free agency. (Personal Notes, 4/11/1985)

However, in the final analysis we also determine the choices which the Lord in His wisdom provides for us. By each exercise of free agency, we determine what the choices will be. While the Lord operates strictly within the laws of justice, it is His love, intelligence and wisdom which operate within the framework of those laws to provide justice.

If we could see things as did Moses, King Benjamin, the Brother of Jared, Abraham and Enoch, then we would also say of ourselves, that we know that man is nothing. (Talk Notes, 12/23/1987)

We each have the power to control our feelings toward God and man. We each have the power to control our desires and appetites. Whether we are happy or sad depends upon the feelings we have toward others, of love versus hate, vengeance or forgiveness, cruelty or kindness. (Personal Notes, 8/11/1989)

Each person has it within his own power to either save or lose his own soul, or there would be no justice. No mortal can either save or lose the soul of another. Not even Satan with all his power and cunning can do this, for the Lord completely controls Satan and allows him to tempt us only to the extent that we are able to bear it. (Personal Notes, 8/27/1989)

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One Response to “Thoughts on Agency”

  • Avatar for H. Verlan Andersen Daniel Black Says:

    I am a long-time advocate for free agency and the divinely inspired Constitution. H. Verlan Anderson’s “Thoughts on Agency” raises an important question: what is our philosophy of political science in which we can have unquestioning faith? I don’t think that he answered this question succinctly in this article. I would love to read more on this subject. Please help if you can!

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