Lately, I've been studying the D&C, and I came upon section 76, which isn't anything new to me, personally. I studied that section quite a bit during my mission. However, this time the coincidence of my reading this days after one of my co-workers came over and asked me"Are there any sins that Christ's atonement don't cover?" Worded that way, the question could be taken many, many ways. I chose to take it at face value and responded, "I believe there are two. First is denying the Holy Ghost, and the second is the shedding of innocent blood." Am I right? I don't know, but I believe that's what my religion teaches. Anyway...
The first part (verses 25-49) of D&C 76 does nothing more than explain in some detail the workings of how, what, where, and why of "outer darkness". I'd like to tear this apart for as long as time permits me now - as I've often caught myself wondering "What *exactly* does one need to do to become a son of perdition?" Hopefully this will be somewhat of an informative study.
To begin, verses 25-30 explain the falling of Satan and his followers from heaven. This isn't very tough doctrine, but in the following verses some interesting things are said to begin the explanation of the sons of perdition:
- Know the power of God
- have been made partakers of the power of God
- suffered themselves to be overtaken by the devil
- have denied the truth and power of God
- have denied the Holy Spirit after having received it
- have denied the Only Begotten Son, thus crucifying him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
- have denied the Son after the Father has revealed him.
The first four things seem to be key. Understanding exactly what they mean could prove to be a study in and of itself. On the simple side, one could easily say "I know the power of God. It's the Priesthood. I have the priesthood. I've sinned by allowing myself to be overtaken by the devil, and my pride has caused me to deny the power of God - almost on a daily basis. I am, therefore, a son of perdition." True? I highly doubt it. If this were true, we would *all* be sons of perdition, some even on a daily basis. Let's look a bit deeper at this:"Know the power of God" What would be required to "know" the power of God? Well, Jacob 4:8 tells us that "no man knoweth of [God's] ways save it be revealed unto him" It also tells us that "it is impossible that man should find out all his ways."
Honestly, upon further research, I've found that defining "the power of God" can be quite difficult. It is mostly associated with miracles happening due to people's faith. (Alma 19:6,17 ; 1 Nephi 17:29,48 ; a bunch more)
So, I guess this is why people have a hard time defining exactly what is required to become a "son of perdition". Upon reading more of D&C 76, its apparent that there's more to becoming a son of perdition than simply getting the authority of God, and then denying Him, although I'm not sure what it is.
Ohwell... I thought I'd come to a better conclusion than that, but alas. Maybe another day.