In today’s episode I talk about the three phases of faith I learned from Jared Halvorson, how they relate to human development phases, and how I see these phases in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an entity unto itself.

This concept has helped me immensely and I hope it helps you understand yourself and others in relation to their faith journeys.

Full Show Notes

Jared Halvorson is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He does amazing work, has a YouTube channel also puts the audio on podcast form. But be warned, his episodes are very long- sometimes up to 7 hours. I’ve learned some key faith-based concepts from him and I want to share one with you today. I am going to add to what I learned from Bro Halverson by talking about how I see the CHURCH as a whole going through these phases as well.

Phase 1: Garden of Eden.

Everything is black and white. Life is good. No real need for a Savior.

Analogous to the developmental phase of young children. They need things to be straightfoward, because that is what is safe for them. They can’t see the nuance in life yet. 0-8 years old.

Also- anytime I see things divided into three phases or steps, I think of the 3 degrees of glory. So this could be the telestial glory, or the world we now live in.

Phase 2: The Fall.

In this phase, you start to doubt and get confused, because things don’t seem to be so black and white. You start seeing the grays, the nuances, the sometimes in life.

This is analogous to the pre-teen and teenaged years. I would also call this a differentiation phase. Differentiation is when you begin to separate yourself from your parents. It is when you start asking who am I that is different from others. You see contrast. This causes you to rebel a bit. You maybe feel further away from God. It is down and forward from the Garden of Eden.

Also analogous to the terrestrial glory.

Phase 3: The Atonement.

In this phase you must climb up and forward from the Fall. You climb higher than the Garden of Eden where you have a wide view. In this phase, your doubts and confusions are resolved. You still see the gray in everything, but you also see how everything fits together, at least more than you did in the Garden of Eden and certainly more than you did in the depths of the Fall phase. In this phase, you hold a paradox together: the simplicity of the Garden of Eden with the difficulty of the Fall. The innocence of the Garden of Eden with the mistakes of the Fall. Justice and Mercy are held together. These opposites are held together in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, hence the name for the phase.

This is analogous to older teenagerhood or adulthood. You maybe aren’t fighting or rebelling, but you have much more understanding that the innocence of childhood. Your perspective is put in its place a bit more.

Also analogous to a celestial nature.

The importance of FORWARD.

Anyone can get “stuck” in any phase. The key is to keep moving forward.

Especially on the upward slope from the Fall to the Atonement, it is going to feel difficult. There may even be brambles that are still digging into you pulling you back into the valley of the Fall. It is supposed to be hard. Nothing has gone wrong.

The Church as a whole

Just like we each go through developmental phases as individuals, I think the Church is also going through developmental phases that are analogous to the stages of faith as a whole. When the church was an infant, obedience, and black and white thinking ruled. It was necessary as pieces got put into place.

As a critical mass of the church moved into the next phase, the church as a whole was being invited to do so as well. With the shifts President Nelson has put in place with a home centered – church supported religion, we are being asked to seeing personal revelation more than practice strict obedience. I see that much of the membership of the church is in a Fall phase and people are leaving the church, because often time one cannot tolerate being at church when they feel distanced from God in their doubts.

I predict that we will be in this phase for a while, until another critical mass of the membership of the Church moves toward the Atonement phase. I see plenty of individuals in this phase who are able to navigate difficult topics with love. But the Church as a whole is not there yet. When we are, we will be much closer to a Zion society. BUT Zion is not a time or a place we are working toward. Zion is built in each of us personally, and when the critical mass embodies a Zion heart, we will be Zion.

Whatever phase you are in, nothing has gone wrong. It is supposed to be easy and then hard and then a grounded peaceful. Look forward with hope.


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