(3) Talmage: Agency

Jesus The Christ – Study Guide

(3) Agency

In the Premortal Existence (PME) “the entire human race existed as spirit being…they were endowed with the powers of agency…” (p. 17). If we treat agency as the power to act righteously with the ability to make choices, it adds to the richness of the construct.PME

Elder Talmage explains that God’s omnipotence relates to agency and also provides an answer to the underlying question of how we are able to exercise agency despite His omniscience. He permits us the ability to make choices without infringing upon our desire to act righteously. However, when we choose sin over His commandments we no longer engage in agency. Instead we stray from the strait and narrow and His Spirit is withheld.

Since 1915, the term free agency has been modified to moral agency or simply agency, as free agency does not appear in the scriptures. In Moses 7:32 we read: “In the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency.” The original manuscript represents more accurately the revelation from Joseph Smith: “And in the Garden of Eden, man had agency” (Manuscript Text Moses 7:32; Jackson, Book of Moses, 166). Thus supporting Elder Talmage’s position that all spirit beings “were endowed with powers of agency or choice while yet but spirits (17).

Eve’s transgression, according to Elder Talmage, was conducted with little or no understanding of the consequences of her actions. Given that there was “no intervening veil” (Times & Seasons) in the Garden of Eden, and the Temple ceremony is strictly figurative (Hugh Nibley), it appears that her transgression was done in full knowledge of her actions. The Fall was a planned offense (Dallin H. Oaks).

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Richard Himmer

Author, PhD in Organizational Psychology.

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