Thursday, January 8, 2009

Satan's Plan of Salvation

I'd always been taught that in the premortal council in heaven, Satan proposed to save all mankind by forcing everyone to do good. He would destroy our agency by preventing us from making wrong choices. While this is possible, it does not entirely make sense to me. I propose that there is another plan Satan could have proposed to destroy our agency that is more consistent with the scriptures. What if Satan proposed to come to earth, suffer for our sins, and then forgive all mankind for all its sins? Satan would not require faith, obedience, or repentance to Heavenly Father's will. Instead, he would "save" everyone by destroying the law, consequences, and spiritual suffering for sin.

Moses 4:1 describes Satan's role in the council in heaven:

"And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor."

In verse 3, God explains that Satan was cast down because he rebelled, sought to destroy man's agency, and sought God's own power.

Under the traditional theory of Satan's plan, this verse is a little confusing. Why would Satan say "I will be thy son"? And why would he offer to "redeem all mankind"? If he would not allow mankind to sin, why would we need to be redeemed?

I believe Satan was offering to be Heavenly Father's Only Begotten Son and suffer for our sins, just like Christ. In fact, earlier in Moses' vision, Satan tempted him and tried to get Moses to worship him. When Moses cast Satan out in Christ's name, "Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me."

Satan is a deceiver, but he is consistent. He wanted to be the Only Begotten in the premortal world, and he tried to convince Moses he was the Only Begotten in the mortal world.

Under Heavenly Father's plan, Jesus Christ would suffer for the sins of all mankind. His atonement is infinite and eternal, which I understand to mean not limited to a certain number of sins, but somehow encompassing all sin. All of our sins have been paid for, whether or not we repent. But because Heavenly Father seeks to build us up and to have us return to him, He chooses to forgive only those who repent. This is the only way any of Heavenly Father's children will return to Him. Satan and the billions of rebellious souls like him didn't like that idea. I imagine that Satan's argument may have gone something like this: "If all of our sins are paid for, why should anyone suffer for sin? I will go. I will be the redeemer. But I will forgive everyone. No one will suffer for sin. There will be no punishment."

Satan thought to "save" us (or at least himself and those who followed him) by destroying the consequences of sin. At best, his plan may have provided for a resurrection and possibly some degree of glory. However, his plan would have destroyed our agency, destroyed our chances of returning to live with Heavenly Father, and ultimately was inconsistent with the very existence of Heavenly Father. Because of Heavenly Father's character and purpose for us, he could not even consider Satan's plan. This theory of Satan's plan is not only more consistent with Moses 4:1, but it is also supported by scriptures that discuss how Satan deals with mankind. Under Satan's plan, there would have been no consequences for sin, and that is still his message today.


In conclusion, based on the present scriptural record, it is more likely that Satan offered to be a savior by suffering for our sins and forgiving all mankind than it is that he offered to save us by forcing us to do good. But I doubt Satan would have been able to follow through with his plan. We know that Christ suffered terrible anguish in Gethsemane for our sins because he loved us. I can imagine Satan feeling a part of that anguish, deciding it was too much and that we were not worth it, and getting up and walking away, while we all looked on in despair.

I recently put together a brief description of what I think Satan's plan was for us, based on the scant scriptural account. The above thoughts are an excerpt of the document, and the full document may be found here. Although it is a finished thought, it could probably still use some fleshing out. If anyone has comments, citations, or arguments in support of or against this idea, I would appreciate them.


  1. This post led me to some notes I'd taken from an El. Bednar talk given to missionaries Oct. 2007 and to my scriptures, so it's been fun studying this for a couple of minutes. I honestly haven't studied this topic much so I can't be of much help. I'll share with you some of the things I wrote down from Elder Bednar's talk though. He taught that The Father is the author of THE PLAN. He taught that Satan didn't have a plan. He said that there wasn't a vote for which plan would pass. It was always one plan and Jesus would fulfill it and follow it. Satan simply rebelled against THE PLAN. That was something that stood out to me because I had always been taught that there were 2 plans and I chose Heavenly Father's, but it was eye opening to realize that there wasn't 2 plans necessarily. Satan just chose to rebel against Heavenly Father's. He listed Abraham 3:22, 24, 27 as references.

    But then I read the verses in Moses you referenced and I got a little confused. But then again, his ultimate goal he stated was "where fore give me thine honor." I almost think he was just trying to get Heavenly Father to let him participate in "God's plan" so that he could get the honor (or power or whatever). Almost like he was trying to deceive God but he was definitely rebelling against the plan because ultimately he was not planning to redeem mankind for the purposes of God it was for the "honor."In Abraham 3:27 it says "And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first." It was because Jesus's intent was to fulfill the Father's plan. Satan was going to do the same thing but not in the father's way, His way (rebellion). Vs. 28: "And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and,at that day, many followed after him." I don't think many were following after Satan's plan but they were rebelling with him against Heavenly Father's plan. Anyways, those are pretty thrown together thoughts. I will have to look more into this topic. And really I may have commented on something totally different than what you were going for, if so sorry. It was really fun for me to think through this at least a little bit.

    Any thoughts on this comment though? I'd love to hear...

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Jon,

    I agree with most of what Elder Bednar said, and may agree with all of it, depending what he meant. I don't pretend to pit my understanding against E.Bednar's, but since I haven't talked to E.Bednar about it, I don't really know his whole opinion.

    If by "Satan didn't have a plan" he meant that Heavenly Father could never consider Satan's plan, and that we never "voted" on Satan's plan, I'd agree with that. Lehi and Alma taught that without opposition (including pain for sin, as Satan may be proposing) "God would cease to be."

    On the other hand, if he meant that Satan did not present an alternative to Heavenly Father's plan in which he would replace Jesus as our Savior, I would have liked to ask him how Moses 4:1 fits into that interpretation.

    Regarding Abraham 3:27, I see Moses 4:1 as expounding a little bit on Abraham 3:27. Abraham teaches that both Jesus and Satan offered to be our savior, and God chose Jesus. Moses further teaches that Satan offered to redeem all mankind, that not one soul would be lost. Clearly, we don't have the whole story, but Moses seems to clarify why Satan was rejected. He would destroy our agency and (claimed to be able to) redeem us all.

    (Sidenote: Is the story of the rejected offering of Cain a parallel of the rejection of Satan in the premortal world?)

  3. Also, regarding those who followed Satan, I agree that they weren't cast out because they voted for Satan's plan. Once Heavenly Father rejected Satan's offer of saviorhood, anyone who tollowed Satan would have no hope of "salvation," including resurrection and eternal life. If they chose to follow Satan after he was rejected, they would definitely know they were rebelling against Heavenly Father.

  4. As far as Satan's ultimate goal of taking Heavenly Father's "honor" or "power," I do not understand this portion of the story. I just don't have a firm grasp of what this honor or power would be. What is something that Heavenly Father has, that Satan could take from him? Was Satan offering to take ownership of our souls, and we are Heavenly Father's "honor" (in the sense that he glories in our progress)? I don't know. I haven't hammered out a position on that part of it yet.

  5. Hey Adam, this comment was from me, Ange. I don't know exactly about El. Bednar's comment either. I know I was definitely taken back by it, because I'd always taught there were 2 plans. I am so glad you brought up the teaching in Moses because I didn't even think about those and it does seem to clarify or expand upon the teaching in Abraham. I think that it's correct to say he had a plan. I do think his plan was to rebel against Heavenly Father's ultimate purpose (His work and His glory)and instead take the honor.

    In regards to Heavenly Father's power: Maybe the honor or power being reffered to is that Satan wanted all to worship him.

  6. Hey Ange,

    You had a very Ellsworthian style to your comment. (You could not receive a grander compliment, I'm sure.)

  7. Oooh, an Ellsworthian style. I love it, and am honored!