Progression between kingdoms

April 11, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 6:42 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Scriptures

In the comments of my recent post on other inhabited worlds the question of progression between kingdoms in the afterlife came up. D&C 76 teaches that in the afterlife all but the sons of perdition will eventually be assigned a kingdom of glory (segmented into three kingdoms: Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial). Some people believe there is a possibility of progression between these kingdoms in the eternities to come and others think the kingdom assignments are permanent. I am firmly in the progression camp.

The permanent kingdom model seems to be the prevailing school in the church today and believing in permanent assignment to kingdoms has lots of practical benefits, like keeping people from procrastinating the day of their repentance. That procrastination scripture I just linked to in Alma points out that after this life comes “the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed”. There are other scriptures that imply permanent kingdoms too, including the combination of statements by Amulek: “their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided” with Paul’s teaching that each kingdom has its own type of resurrected body. This tandem seems to be a pretty good case for permanent assignment to kingdoms.

The problem is that such a course seems to fly in the face of other statements in scriptures. Just two examples are God telling Joseph that the worth of souls is great in His sight (D&C 18) and Moses that His work and glory includes bringing to pass both the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1). If the scriptures are accurate that strait is the gate and there truly are very few that find it, then it would appear that God was quite a failure in his work and glory and that he doesn’t mind a plan that basically damns the vast majority of those extremely valuable souls after all. If we have lived forever already and have progressed this far, then assigning a soul permanently to a kingdom where there is no chance for continued progression is, by very definition, a form of eternal damnation. Since the worth of souls is great, I can’t believe God would go for such prodigal waste…

I have heard attempts to reconcile this problem by asserting that those in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms will be as happy as clams in their kingdoms for all eternity. I just don’t buy that. If we have progressed from all eternity to arrive here, why should we assume we’d be happy through all eternity without any more progress ever? It sounds more like the protestant view of the eternities to me.

I suspect eternal progression is a process of light cleaving unto light and intelligence to intelligence – sort of a like a snowball of light and intelligence growing larger (or smaller) as it rolls. It seems to me that the no-progress-between-kingdoms theory assumes external barriers to progress when the only real barrier to our progress throughout eternity is ourselves. What do you think?

100 Comments »

  1. The problem that I see in your delineation is that while there is extensive evidence that kingdoms are permenant, your argument for their dynamism is based only on an appeal to God’s character (a non sequitur?). Moreover and perhaps this relates to my ontology, but it would seem that it is not God’s failure, but our own. It seems that God is indeed powerless to save those unwilling to be saved, and if he did, he might cease to be.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 11, 2005 @ 6:58 pm

  2. I assume you’re aware of the GA statements in favor of, or at the least, allowing progression between kingdoms…

    Comment by Ben S. — April 11, 2005 @ 7:41 pm

  3. Ben,

    I can’t speak for J, but I am aware of them. Since there are also GA statements against progression between kingdoms I thought I would just refer to differing camps on the subject. What do you think?

    J,

    I don’t think that the arguments I gave are based solely on appeal to God’s character but rather largely on logic and revelations. The course of the Lord is one eternal round and he is unchanging. He has allowed us to pregress from all eternity and now he changes his course and externally dams our progression? I would say the idea of external barriers to progression is in fact contra-scriptural.

    I say this despite the scriptures usually cited to support the idea. I think it is everlastingly too late to progress in this life when we die. Further, the night of darkness comment sounds suspiciously like the Heber C. quote I have been talking about to me. Resurrection scriptures can be dealt with in lots of ways but I will just say they do not proscribe the notion of upgrades or progress.

    What do you think the logical defense for permanent assignment argument would be? It makes no sense at all to me.

    (BTW — welcome back!)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 11, 2005 @ 8:13 pm

  4. I actually am undecided on whether there will be trans-kingdom progression (though I favor the non-scenerios). I just seems that there is pleanty in scripture that suggests that there will be no inter-kindom action and very little to to affirm it.

    You cited several scriptures in the negative and none directly for the positive.

    Thanks, its good to be back.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 11, 2005 @ 8:32 pm

  5. Concerning ‘it has to be that way or God would be a failure':

    Didn’t ‘a third part’ already blow it? Will they won’t progress?

    In the Heber C. Model does the war in heaven repeat?

    Comment by yddy42 — April 11, 2005 @ 8:58 pm

  6. yddy42,

    I suspect the answer in the Heber C. model is that we are still in the heat of battle in that war right now.

    J,

    I actually don’t think there are any scriptures that support the no-progress model. I only cited some I have heard used (incorrectly I believe) to support it. I don’t know of any simple proof-texts off the top of my head that specifically say there is progress between kingdoms either though. Anyone have any suggestions on that?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 11, 2005 @ 9:09 pm

  7. why should we assume we’d be happy through all eternity without any more progress ever?

    You seem to assume that progress is a linear process. What if it is a multidimensional process. One could be damned with regards to progress along one or more dimensions, but still be able to progress eternally along a different dimension. If we are, by our actions in this life, effecively choosing the dimensions along which to continue progressing, it would follow that we will be happy pursuing such progress in the next life.

    Even if you insist that eternal progress is a linear process, the presence of an external barrier does not imply eventual stagnation. Consider the following analogy based on the theory of relativity. Say Ralph turns on a flashlight and Fred manages to hitch a ride on one of the emitted photons. Fred’s wind resistance slows him down to just below the speed of light (an external barrier). While riding the original photon, Fred turns on another flashlight pointed in the same direction as the first. From Ralph’s perspective, a photon from Fred’s flashlight is travelling at a very slow speed. Thus, Ralph perceives the external barrier as being binding on Fred. But from Fred’s perspective, that same photon is travelling away from him at the speed of light. Thus, Fred does not perceive the external barrier to be binding on himself because he sees photons moving away from him at the speeed of light, meaning that he too can move much faster than he is moving. Your comments assume that Ralph’s perspective is the only proper one.

    Comment by Last Lemming — April 12, 2005 @ 6:29 am

  8. The sixth sentence of the last paragraph should read as follows:

    From Ralph’s perspective, a photon from Fred’s flashlight is travelling away from Fred at a very slow speed.

    Sorry. When discussing relativity, one has to be very specific about such things.

    Comment by Last Lemming — April 12, 2005 @ 6:34 am

  9. Makes you think about the statement often repeated (but I forget the source) where Joseph Smith says something to the fact that he’d go all the way to hell to claim Emma if need be. After reading The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, I am of the strong opinion that Joseph believed in progression between kingdoms.

    I think that the above mentioned 3 scriptures that seem to indicate a frozen position do not actually provide a strong case. Wherin Alma says that “the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed” seems to me to state that without a body (in the Spirit World) no labors can be performed. But, I would tend to believe that after being rejoined to the body, labors could resume. As far as not procrastinating being a good idea, it appears from other things I’ve read, that its much easier to rely on the blood of Christ using repentence than to go through the pain yourself after this life is over. In other words, if you can progress through the kingdoms, its going to be a lot harder than doing the work now. Procrastinating is inefficient.

    As far as Amulek’s statement: “their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided” and Paul’s teaching that each kingdom has its own type of resurrected body: Why not this scenerio? Lets say John Doe is resurrected in a Terrestrial body. What would prevent his body from developing and changing to a Celestial body later? It sounds painful having to change from one type of body to a next. Perhaps thats what makes progression more difficult in the next life?

    Comment by anonymous — April 12, 2005 @ 7:11 am

  10. “God was quite a failure in his work and glory and that he doesn’t mind a plan that basically damns the vast majority of those extremely valuable souls after all”

    Ahhh…the benefits of being a just God.

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 12, 2005 @ 8:15 am

  11. Well said Kim.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 12, 2005 @ 8:35 am

  12. “Ahhh…the benefits of being a just God.” -by Kim Siever

    But, isn’t that the arguement? That a just God wouldn’t condemn someone to a eternal punishment as a result of bad decision(s) of a extremely short time on earth? It doesn’t seem remotely just to me.

    And for those who are so inclined, please don’t reply with “My (God’s) thoughts are not you’re thoughts” argument. Thanks to Adam and Eve, I’m “like the Gods” knowing right from wrong; and eternal punishment for issues from a short time on earth is not right. Its intuitive.

    Comment by anonymous — April 12, 2005 @ 9:07 am

  13. Kim,

    We agree that God is just. It appears we have a different idea of what justice demends in this case, though.

    J,

    Perhaps a scripture strongly supporting progress after this life is D&C 19. Since the lower kingdoms are a form of spiritual damnation (meaning they constitute an insurmountable external barrier to our spiritual progress) it seems apt that the Lord mentions that He didn’t mean that sort of thing last forever when he calls it Eternal punishment. Rather, Eternal is one of His names.

    God is just after all.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 9:12 am

  14. I always thought that in D&C 19, when it talks about the suffering not being forever, it can’t simply be talking about the suffering we will do before the resurrection. Of course that suffering will not go on forever. We will all be resurrected so how is that such a startling revelation? I think it would mean a lot more if we applied it to those you go to what would later be called the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms.

    Geoff, I must say that I am quite upset with this series you are now posting. You are taking most of the things I was going to soon post away from me. Now I’m going to look like a chump. ;->

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 12, 2005 @ 9:16 am

  15. Thanks Geoff,

    I think that D&C 19 is strong evidence for progression between kingdoms.
    I remembered reading that, but forgot its location. A terrible problem I’ve developed from reading too much. I forget where I’ve read it.

    Comment by Speaking Up; formerly known as anonymous — April 12, 2005 @ 9:20 am

  16. Jeffrey — Ha! Sorry about that. I beat Stapley to the punch a couple of months ago to and he called me a blog weasel. I can’t help it if everyone wants to copy my ideas! ;-) Anyway, don’t let my posts stop you from posting on the subject.

    BTW — It looks like we were on the same wavelength on D&C 19 too…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 9:23 am

  17. SpeakingUp,

    Good points #9, 12. We agree that the opportunity for continued progression is the only intuitive and just solution.

    Last Lemming,

    It’s good to see you here. I actually modeled much of this post after comments I made in an exchange with you over at BCC a couple of months ago.

    The issue I have with your proposed model is that any barriers to our becoming like God are still barriers. If we progress in one way but not in others we never really can become like our Savior of the Father. But when Christ was here he said “what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am”. How could we ever fulfill that injunction if he places barriers to our becoming like him in the eternities? And why would he do so?

    I believe that rather He will let us choose to progress or regress throughout the eternity to come just as he has in the eternities past. Isn’t it contra-scriptural to say God will suddenly change this course he has taken throughout the eternities?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 10:05 am

  18. At the chance of repeating myself from your previous blog…here goes.

    Maybe becoming Gods is a difficult thing. Maybe God is doing a great job at his Moses 1:39 goal. Consider all who will be in the Celestial Kingdom….all infants who died, all who didn’t have the gospel but will accept it in the spirit world, all the children born during the Millenium, and all who accept the gospel and keep the commandments. Who knows how big this number is? And as a percentage of God’s spirit children who knows, maybe God is exalting 7% more than other Gods because He’s so good at it.

    We also have not brought out the fact that we have 1,000 years during the Millenium to work on becoming Christlike. Considering the progress that can be made during an 80 year life span, think what progress can be had during 1,000 years…especially without Satan.

    God didn’t make the rules. He is just. Is it just to exalt everyone as you suggest? Progression from Kingdom to kingdom, or from earth to earth (under the HCK model) means everyone is exalted…some just take a little longer. And when you’re dealing with eternity then it doesn’t matter how long, everyone’s exalted. That sounds like someone else’s plan to me.

    Comment by don — April 12, 2005 @ 11:11 am

  19. I’ve always been in the eternal progression camp on naively mathematical grounds. It seems to me that any punishment, no matter how small, administered for an infinite amount of time, outweighs any sin, no matter how large, committed for a finite amount of time.

    Comment by will — April 12, 2005 @ 11:13 am

  20. Don: Progression from Kingdom to kingdom, or from earth to earth (under the HCK model) means everyone is exalted…some just take a little longer.

    This is actually incorrect in the model as I understand it. We can progress or regress throughout eternity so it is possible to never acheive exaltation or outer darkness in Heber C model as well. The difference is that there are never external barriers to our progress — only our choices limit us.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 1:15 pm

  21. I agree with Geoff. It is also possible that we all end up being damned, it would just take a little longer for some.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 12, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

  22. How about this for another question about the HCK model:

    If we are all progressing (hopefully) towards Godhood, there would seem to be a huge casm between every human that has ever lived and Jesus. From what I understand, you guys are suggesting that each progress in “being” untill we have an expiative capcity.

    So let’s take Pres. Hinckly, I would argue that he is incredibly far from having that capcity. Where are is the fossil record, i.e., where are all these wonderful people that are so close to becoming Divine?

    You might say the Telestial Kingdom, but the fullness of our Temple Ordinances would sugest otherwise.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 12, 2005 @ 4:07 pm

  23. Now that all sorts of cats are being let out of all sorts of bags I guess I’ll respond to you here, J.

    First, I read that excellent article on the history of the second anointing. I came away from it with several opinions:

    1. The ordinance is still conditional until it is ratified by the Holy Spirit of promise. The brethren seemed to be increasingly convinced of this even in the 19th century. That jibes well with this idea that we need to be celestial individuals rather than receive some celestial kingdom entrance ticket.

    2. The primary drivers behind that ordinance and its use were BY and HCK. Obviously they saw no difficulties reconciling it with this many-world progression theory.

    3. Jesus Christ was considered fully divine before he accomplished the atonement. Likewise was the Holy Ghost. It seems there is a point at which one if fully divine yet there remains more progress that can be accomplished. The ability of God(s) to progress was the main issue BY and the first presidency censured Orson Pratt over if I remember correctly.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 5:41 pm

  24. I apologize for being kind of vague – I had an experience recently that made me reevaluate my public discourse on this subject.

    In regards to the Temple ordinances in their entirety, I think that while Brigham and Heber definitely left their marks, Joseph Smith is the one to look to for definitive historical interpretation. Joseph was unequivocal that the sealing ordinances were effectual. The whole modern interpretation of the “holy spirit of promise” seems pretty untenable in light of Joseph’s discourses.

    Brigham did reconcile the fullness of the Priesthood with his concepts of exaltation, but I’m pretty sure he also thought he was going to get it all in the immediate resurrection. As I said in the preceding comment, there is a huge disparity in “being” between anyone who has lived on this planet (including prophets) and Christ. I don’t see how anyone in this sphere could upgrade to the celestial sphere, as you are describing it, in the immediate resurrection.

    Your third point seems the most confusing to me. Are you or are you not suggesting that the Celestial kingdom = membership in a Godhead (this is what I thought you have been advocating)? If not, then your argument becomes (at least to me) more coherent.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 12, 2005 @ 10:05 pm

  25. I think Joseph was right that the ordinance accomplished its purpose when the character of the recipient allowed it to work. I think the problem is that it would become void if the recipient was not worthy of the promised blessing. The later focus on contingency simply pointed out this point that was true all along. (You surely don’t believe that someone could sneak their way to exaltation do you?)

    Regarding BY expecting to “get it all” at resurrection I just don’t think we know what “it all” means. For instance the Holy Ghost and Christ are fully divine, so in a sense Christ had “it all” before the atonement yet in another sense he only gained “it all” after the atonement. This is certainly not clearly defined for us. I would say though that BY and Heber (and I believe Joseph) expected to be a part of future Godheads… This is only a wild speculation but I suspect it would mean as the third member at first…

    And no, I don’t think all worthy of being called Celestial are immediately and inherently ready to be a member of a Godhead. I think the three-division we are told about are just a rudimentary way to explain a true continuum and there are many different levels even among “celestial” beings. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if the noble and great ones Abraham saw were among those we would call Celestial in our three-division model… (Is it still more coherent than you thought?)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 11:56 pm

  26. Thanks for this post and the comments, they have given me an opportunity to think beyond the usual.

    It appears that some of the justification for the HCK model is Moses 1:39. The argument is God isn’t doing His job if He is getting so few of us to qualify for the Celestial Kingdom while in this earth life.

    Let’s look at some statistics. This is supposed to be the most wicked earth God created….only one bad enough to kill it’s Savior. So let’s say on this earth only 2% qualify to go to the Celestial Kingdom (and that is a very low percentage, I think). If the other earths are better, how much better? How much influence does Satan have on them? Maybe not much, maybe very little because of their righteousness. So let’s say on the other earths the Celestial Kingdom qualification rate is 94%.

    If you then look at all of God’s creations, statistically He’s doing great! It’s a matter of perspective.

    Maybe neither one of these arguments are even in the ballpark….depends on the perspective.

    Comment by don — April 13, 2005 @ 10:13 am

  27. Don,

    That hypothetical situation you propose would only make sense if we assume the HCK model, right? In the batch model, that that would be extremely unjust to our batch…

    Also, I’m not very swayed by the “most wicked planet” speculation yet. Does anyone have a source on that?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 10:49 am

  28. Thanks Geoff, I too hold little regard for the “most wicked planet” speculation. Unless the operations of satan or the natural man’s behavior/desires are different on other worlds, I see each planet having the same ups and downs as ours. I think the “most wicked planet” theory is necessary for those trying to justify the “Jesus is the Savior of all God’s planets” theory: of which I do not agree with.

    Comment by Speaking Up — April 13, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  29. I think that many people have expanded that verse in Nephi where it says that the Jews are the only people who would crucify their God.

    Also in the book of Moses, before the flood God says that there has never been such wickedness among his creations or something like that.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 13, 2005 @ 11:47 am

  30. Okay Geoff, Tell me about the Telestial kingdom. What is going on there. And why the discroptions of the relationships to deity. Ter – HG; Tel – Savior; Celestial – The Father. It seems that according to History and Joseph Smith, we have access to both Christ and the Father in this sphere.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 13, 2005 @ 11:57 am

  31. Also, I’m still not certain how sealings of families fits in hear. Why would we be sealed to our children in this model?

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 13, 2005 @ 12:22 pm

  32. Regarding the telestial kingdom: look around, we’re in it. It is Babylon I suspect.

    However if it is not a location but rather a state of being (as I assert in todays’s Sun, Moon, Stars post) perhaps some are in higher “kingdoms” even here… It is pretty clear that different people live at different levels of light and joy and peace here… I obviously don’t know, but these are concepts worth exploring I think.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 12:27 pm

  33. Regarding sealing to children: It’s funny you mention that becasue I just had a conversation with my sister-in-law about that today. It is a tough issue to really figure out for many. I mean in the eternities we are really sealed to our spouse, so what of this childrento parents thing? I’m not sure exactlywhat your specific question is though, J. Can you clarify that? Also, please let me know what you think about the subject.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  34. Specifically, in this model that you are proposing, what is the meaning/purpose of sealing children to parents?

    In the model that I currently favor, the celestial kingdom is a place (glorified Earth) where the inhabitants are sealed to each other with Christ as the Father. Any consequent spirit progeny (whatever that means) is raised to the Father – in much the same way Heber J. Grant is the son of Joseph Smith.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 13, 2005 @ 12:56 pm

  35. Geoff,
    I’m with J. All of what we know about the kingdoms of glory seems to imply that they are a perpetual state, not a waystation on the path to greater things. And I don’t think that God shows any less of a tendency to value the souls of men because of this. In any case he has still raised our level of existence from that of intelligences to that of souls capable of abiding a law in a kingdom of glory. We don’t know much about what that will mean for those in the lower kingdoms, but it seems better than being something that is not yet even a spirit. I think god will give us all the happiness we will recieve, but there is a point at which it is “everlastingly too late.” At that point, he gives us what he can, and he would give us more if we would recieve it, but we won’t abide the necessary law.
    My personal take is that our reuinion with our bodies is particularly decisive, since we will have those bodies forever and are no longer acting under the probation of mortality. As I said, its my ownb take on this, and perhpas worth a post, but I think that sin affects our bodies as well as our spirits, so once we’re permanent, God can only allow us the freedom to do what won’t mess that up. This, however, is not an idea I’m married to. The idea of being permanently assigned to a kingdom is one that I am to the extent that I’m really attached to any idea about such things.

    Comment by Steve H — April 13, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

  36. I agree that I think sealing is best understood in terms of the patriarchal order and in terms of authority. I think the notion that it lets someone visit their kids, as one sometimes finds in folk traditions, is hard to accept. I find the notion of multiple probations in terms of reincarnation hard to believe. I can accept the idea of giving up glory. Thus I don’t have trouble with notion of God falling with a creation, as William Law accused Joseph of teaching in the Nauvoo Expositor. I’m not sure that the extensions to this that one find in Brigham Young or even more so in Heber C. Kimball are correct. They simply lead (IMO) to too many problems. Having said that, I don’t have trouble in theory with movement between kingdoms, although I personally doubt it happens. But I think interpreting that as reincarnation is hard to accept.

    With regards to claims that Joseph accepted reincarnation, I think that unless one unpacks exactly what Joseph meant by that one can’t say much. The latter interpretations of it seem questionable. (IMO) I also think one ought have some caution since the late 19th century had a serious injection of Spiritualism from English saints moving into Utah. As most know, that led to large conflicts and eventually what some call the Godbeite apostasy. (With its interesting connection to the rise of the SLC Tribune) My point is that there was a lot of doctrinal speculation going on at this time. A lot of ideas ranging from mesmerism to spiritualism to various eastern notions were all going around SLC. I suspect many people interpreted Joseph’s comments in light of those speculations. However that might well be distorting. (Just as I think both Orson Pratt and Brigham Young got most of their ideas from Joseph but took them in very different directions)

    Comment by Clark — April 13, 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  37. Steve: All of what we know about the kingdoms of glory seems to imply that they are a perpetual state

    I would disagree with this assertion. I think that there is a tradition floating around that this is the case but I believe it is borrowed from the Nicene Christian view of heaven.

    I see you repeat many of the standard reasons for why some believe in permanent assignment, but as you can tell I think it is a false doctrine. Do you have any ideas how to deal with the many evidences I and others have presented here that permanent external barriers are unjust, a change in the Lord’s eternal course, and nonsensical/unnecessary?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 3:28 pm

  38. Whoa there Tex. False Doctrine? Dude, if anyone’s ideas have the onus of bearing such a title it might be the one spouting heresy.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 13, 2005 @ 3:34 pm

  39. J,

    I think you are right that the greatest strength of your model is it makes sense of the sealings of many generations. But I think the weaknesses are too many to overcome. I am completely unsold on the idea you have that we are ontologically different or even a different species than the Godhead. Plus in your model we never really can receive “all that the father hath” but rather end up as sort of ministering angels for all eternity if I remember correctly. That is missing the boat in my mind.

    I think the parent child-sealings and the patriarchal order in the Heber C. model probably have a major affect on who is born into the house of Israel or not (for the non-exalted ones). But I haven’t really crystallized these ideas yet. But perhaps that could explain why some less righteous-than-by-nature folks (think Laman and Lemuel) get born under the covenant at least…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

  40. Ha! Sorry about that, J. I didn’t say it is a false doctrine for sure, only that I think it is. I readily admit that my opinion on this could be dead wrong.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  41. Clark,

    You are obviously right that this is all speculative stuff. I am not at all trying to say any of these ideas are some secret truth that has been buried or something. They are all just theories. My purpose in all of this is to try to piece together a model of the eternities that allows the most puzzle pieces to fit together. I am leaning in certain directions now because they seem to have the least holes.

    The goal, is to come up with a system that can help answer questions (if nothing else in my own mind) when big controversies like this latest squabble over what will be the eternal fate of Pope JPII in the afterlife. In the Heber C model (and other progression between kingdoms models) JPII, by all accounts, will at least be terrestrial person even if he does not accept the authorized ordinances and covenants prior to judgment and in the eternities will have all the opportunities he needs to continue toward his exaltation. Permanent kingdom assignment puts us in the same doctrinal bind that Nicene Christians find themselves in.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 13, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

  42. I agree that for the HCK model, sealings can pose an issue. Also another weakness I see in the HCK model: Heb. 9: 27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

    It would seem odd to have to die, lose the body, and then do it all over again with the veil. Neither the batch theory of the HCK theory seems to fit really well. However, I admit on an intellectual level HCK is seductive.

    I still favor that we can progress through the different kingdoms, but that its an extremely painful process and that the body does change in response as the person developes. I think having a body is key to further development, and that in the spirit world before the resurrection no further development is available.

    Comment by Speak Up — April 13, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  43. D & C 76: 109-112 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever; For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared; And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

    I’m trying to find a way to reconcile that this passage does NOT say that a telestial “reward” is permanent.

    One possible interpretation:

    As long as a telestial being remains “telestial”, he cannot go where God and Christ dwell. However, once an individual has overcome the problems that MAKE him telestial (being a liar, sorcerer, adulterer, or whoremonger, etc.), he may see his way clear to the terrestrial kingdom. However, the group of unrepentant persons (i.e. that remain in a telestial state) will always be excluded from where God and Christ dwell, “worlds without end”. Many of these will be so tied up in their sins that they won’t even think about God and Christ, let alone seek to dwell with them.

    Comment by Brent — April 14, 2005 @ 1:02 am

  44. S.U.: Good points. My only problem with your suggestion for a painful body transformation is that it seems to be without a precedent in anything we see in our universe. I am heavily influenced by the oft-repeated but somewhat vague scriptural phrase “the course of the Lord is one eternal round”. That holds all sorts of implications but one of them seems to be that the Lord recycles the same techniques to help us become more like his. I assume this means both spiritually and physically.

    Brent: Nice scriptural pull and analysis. I agree that Telestial persons are excluded from higher “kingdoms” or blessings not because of external barriers but because being telestial-quality inside naturally excludes them from higher blessings. But the minute they repent and become more righteous more blessing immediately are theirs.

    I also think this scriptural term “worlds without end” is extremely interesting and possibly an only thinly veiled reference to this HCK/many-probations model we have been discussing.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 14, 2005 @ 8:49 am

  45. I also think this scriptural term “worlds without end” is extremely interesting and possibly an only thinly veiled reference to this HCK/many-probations model we have been discussing.
    It seems to me that almost everything you are saying would have to be veiled. It seems as if the criptures teach that there is a time when it is too late to repent. It could be that God has presented it to appear that way, although in reality we can repent forever, but I see no reason that it would be. Nephi says that he is speaking in language that is as plain as language can be, and I think that goes for most of the scriptures we are speaking about. As I see it, you would have to show me a reason why the concepts you are talking about are beyond the ability of language to present them plainly, or why the indirect or vieled language in these passages is actually more plain, more accurate, or in some way more useful that it appears.

    Comment by Steve H — April 14, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

  46. I guess “thinly veiled” might not have been the right choice of words, Steve. Now that I look at that passage it seems to me that it is pretty plain without any veil at all:

    …but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

    In other words, no matter how many worlds we live on we can’t dwell with God or Christ if we remain unrepentant, unchanged, unimproved, untransformed, Telestial beings.

    Now I can understand why God wouldn’t mind us assuming this life is the only chance throughout eternity to repent because repenting is the thing that will be of most worth to us. But that doesn’t mean such an assumption is true — especially if it is unjust as I believe it is.

    BTW — Does Nephi even say anything on this subject? Mormon does paraphrase the convert/missionary Amulek but his statements seem pretty easy to understand to me: After this life “cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”(2 Nep 34:33). But the analogy is a telling one. What comes at the end of every night? A new day. It is the very same analogy Heber C Kimball used.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 14, 2005 @ 6:21 pm

  47. When I say that the scriptures seem to be teaching that there is a point at which it is too late to repent, I am refering to scriptures like Hel. 13: 38

    But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.

    Also, if you read on in the part about the night of darkness in Amla 34, it says:

    34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
    35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

    My point about Nephi is that he speaks of the scriptures as plain. I think that there might be times when we can misunderstand plainness when we aren’t ready for it, and there are certainly times when God has given the people things that they cannot understand when they have asked for it. But that is different than deliberate veiling or obfuscation in a passage that purports to be clear, as I believe most of the Book of Mormon does.

    As far as the reading of worlds without end in this passage, I think it is a bit strained. It seems to add things to the passage that aren’t there. Your reading seems a bit more like a midrash that adds something to the scripture to explain for you how a scripture might jibe with your theory despite its appearance of being contrary to that theory than a reading of the scripture as it stands.

    It seems that the primary concern you have is with the justic eof Go din punishing the sinner. Alma 42, it seems to me addresses just this qestion. Corianton raises it. His father responds, in part:

    Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed copposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.

    That is to say, if there were no eternal punishment in place, those who enjoy sin would have no incentive to repent. God does not want them running around for eternity hurting others through their sin, so he places a punishment that is eternal as the life of the soul in order to get as many as possible to repent. The rest never will, so he makes them more than they were as servants of God. He gives them what they are capable of handling.
    I see nothing unjust in that. We might say that it limits God’s mercy, maybe. But it seems that punishment affixed to crime and applied in the most appropriate way for all concerned is the essence of justice.

    Comment by Steve H — April 15, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

  48. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Steve. I’m glad someone is taking up the banner of the permanent kingdom camp — it’s less fun or educational when everyone just rolls over on these sorts of things.

    Hel 13:38

    This is another popular reference of permanent kingdom believers. The problem is that it says pretty much the same thing as the other scriptures. If we don’t repent here and now it will be too late. “Too late for what?” is the question. It seems to me that the answer is defined again in D&C 19 — it is too late to get Christ to pay for our sins. If we do not repent the Lord says that we will have to pay for all of our sins ourselves:

    15 Therefore I command you to repent-repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore-how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
    17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

    And this is the same section (19) that presents the permanent kingdom crowd with its biggest problem anyway when Christ explains that the punishments he gives are not forever but rather sufficient.

    And what are we to do with this part of the Helaman verse:

    …until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure…

    What destruction? We do not believe the souls of those going to one of the kingdoms of glory will be obliterated in our theology. There must be another way of describing this process as something that is not forever. The same thing applies to the other verse about the Devil sealing us his. This obviously cannot apply to those in the lower kingdoms of glory right? They must be talking about something else.

    In Alma 42 that idea of eternal punishment comes up again which is dispatched with D&C 19 again. There may be more to this (like spiritual regression) but it is a very weak support for permanent kingdoms.

    Lastly, I have recently been reading Elder John A. Widtsoe’s Rational Theology and it has some relevant quotes:

    On quiescence (aka stagnancy) in the eternities (which is inherent in the permanent kingdom assignment I think) —

    Quiescence in the universe cannot be conceived, for then there would be no universe. Constant action or movement characterizes the universe. (p. 19)

    On eternal regression of spirits —

    Through the exercise of their free wills they grew, or remained passive, or perhaps even retrograded, for with living things motion in any direction is possible. (p. 17)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 15, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

  49. I agree that D&C 19 refutes the idea that God will torture souls in hell for eternity. However, I think that Alma 42 says more than just that this punisment will be eternal punishment, or the punishment that is eternally decreed for sin. Here is a punishment that, specifically, is as eternal as the life of the soul, which is a different thing.
    Of course I agree with Widsoe that there may be movement, but this would mean movement within the sphere allotted to the person, as with those who accede to the celestial kingdom, but not to exaltation because they did not choose marriage: “that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” Thus those in the celestial kingdom as ministering angels could become better ministering angels, but never gods. Those in the lower kingdoms, then could become better at the service they are able to render in their sphere, but they must abide the law of the kingdom of glory in which they reside, which is the law they are able to abide.

    Comment by Steve H — April 15, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

  50. So can someone eternally progress in the Telestial kingdom? If not then permanent consignment to that kingdom is a “forever” punishment after all. And it means motion must stop. Both of those concepts are seriously at odds with the scriptures and quotes I presented. (Plus I believe there is a true continuum in the next life and the three kingdoms are only metaphors for gradation. (See the Sun Moon Stars post))

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 15, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

  51. Geoff,
    This is, of course, why we differ on the point of separate kingdoms as well. We are told that the kingdoms correspond with the law we are able to abide. Law implies a relationship between more than one person. Otherwise, we would all be abiding no law at all. We would be a law unto ourselves. Tus we must be abiding the same law that some group of others are abiding. These laws are what make the kingdoms what they are. The misconception here is that all progresion happens along a sliding scale from bad to good. We can certainly beomce better at things without becoming better at other things. It would be perfectly consistent to allow that there can be progression as a servant of god without ever recieving the generative power that comes with exaltation.

    Comment by Steve H — April 15, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  52. Geoff:

    The same arguement that people use to explain how God can progress eternally by gaining new experience applies just as well to an indavidual in any kingdom.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 15, 2005 @ 5:21 pm

  53. Geoff:

    Not only do you have to discount all evidence that states that the resurection is permanent, but you have to discount all the revelation stating that we will look like we do now in the resurection – or do you think that Joseph only meant that to count for celestials.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 15, 2005 @ 5:30 pm

  54. Steve (#51),
    I’m not sure what point you are making here. I am claiming that we can repent at any time throughout the eternities and begin living a higher law. Therefore if we live a higher law we would be qualified for a higher “kingdom”. If there is no progress that is only because God no longer accepts repentance from us even if we wanted to and actually did repent.

    J (#52-53),
    The same argument actually doesn’t apply to God because there is no ceiling to his eternal progress. These lower kingdom by definition have ceilings to progress. As I said, what happens when telestial person chooses to repent and live the terrestrial or celestial laws? Are they forever consigned to telestial blessings anyway? Does God turn his back on his own children like that?

    I’m not sure what your second point is… How does what we look like apply to this discussion?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 15, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

  55. We say that god progresses by experience, right. Even though he will not progress in goodness, mercy or love, he will gain new experiance. The same could be said of anybody.

    As to my second point: If I’m understanding your model correctly, we are resurected into a kingdom. If our glory is telestial in nature, then we are resurected as a new baby, right? Or are you positing a resurection of the flesh, afterwhich it is sundered only to be reborn as a mortal?

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 15, 2005 @ 9:52 pm

  56. Whoa… hold on thar Tex. I actually have no idea how the mechanisms might work with this Heber C model. Then again we have no idea how the mechanisms could work with any other model either. If the Heber C model is accurate there could be any number of ways that is accomplished — not only through sending Telestial folks directly from the spirit world to another birth process. I honestly don’t even have a theory on how that might work yet.

    But that brings up a good question. How do you and Steve think the Telestial, Terrestrial and Celestial groups will be divided in eternity? Will each get a separate planet to hang out on for eternity together? I mean we all will have bodies so in this universe we’ll need a planet to live on I imagine… Do you envision different entropy-free Garden of Eden planets with upgraded feature on the top two?

    The reason I suspect that the Heber C model makes more sense with this is because we know for a fact that Celestial beings can be born on, live on, and die on Telestial worlds. How do we know? Because this is a Telestial world and Jesus was a divine Celestial being that came here and did just that. Plus we are told people in higher kingdoms can “visit” those in lower kingdoms but not vice-versa.

    [Caution: Turbo speculation to follow] Now I know that such visits include glorified angelic visits, but part of me suspects (and this is only a suspicion..) that Abraham and the noble and great ones in his vision were at least Terrestrial and possibly Celestial beings who chose to come to this Telestial world to serve others and become a little more like God in the process. If that is the case then those who qualify for any of the kingdoms could choose to live on any of the worlds without end. The noble and great ones (who possibly qualified to be designated Celestial before this world) function as mini-saviors of mankind or earthly angels.

    Anyway, I’m totally guessing of course and making this up as I go but that might explain how we can have a world with Abraham or Moses or Peter or Joseph Smith in it while at the same time have Hitlers and pedophiles etc. It seems we might have noble and great ones mixing with base and wicked ones with the goal to “make bad men good and good men better.” (Have you noticed how often Pres Hinckley has used that line?) If that is the case then all three kingdoms could mix together on one planet if the individuals so chose.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 15, 2005 @ 10:33 pm

  57. Jesus was a divine Celestial being that came here and did just that.

    Yeah, but he was not glorified, and there is a substantial body of thought that supports souch a distinction (e.g., the need to be transfigured in their presence or else you get crispy).

    As far as what I think happens, I deffer to the Gospel Principle manual:

    At the Final Judgment we will be assigned to the kingdom for which we are prepared. We will be sent to one of four places: the celestial kingdom (the highest degree of glory), the terrestrial kingdom (the second degree), the telestial kingdom (the lowest degree), or outer darkness (the kingdom of the devil-not a degree of glory).

    So basically, we all are resurected, judged and inheret a sphere comensurate to our glory. If you buy into 19th century perspective (and Orson and Brigham agreed here (though orson had his own twist on it)) the Earth will be turned into a literal sun and the celestial beings will live in/on it.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 16, 2005 @ 10:41 am

  58. The problem with your falling back on the vaguaries of the Gospel Principles manual in this particular discussion is that those statements support the Heber C model as much as they do any permanent kingdom model. In other words, I agree with everything you quoted. Yet we see the details very differently. It seems to me that any attempts to explain where some permanent and entropy-free telestial sphere/planet/kingdom in our universe is as or more difficult than explaining how the HCK model works.

    Regarding the Orson and Brigham speculations: Obviously the idea that a planet will turn into a star is untenable. But the scriptures do describe the dwelling place of God as “evelasting burnings” or as “a sea of glass and fire“. How do you (or Steve) suppose the Celestialized earth will come to fit that description?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 16, 2005 @ 11:26 am

  59. It seems like you are avoiding the main point. In the Standard Model [grin] you die, get resurected with a body that you keep forever (well suported by scripture), that looks like our current body and then you go to a planet-kingdom. The celestialization of this planet is beyond my capacity to grasp – though I believe in the whole sea of glass (that you can look into and see the future? ;^) ) thing.

    But in your model and the HCK model, the resurection is meaningless. You get resurected and judged just to lose that body anyway? What’s the point?

    Moreover, you still haven’t addressed the glorification aspect, i.e., needing to be transfigured to abide the presence of God.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 16, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

  60. Wow J., considering how short that last comment was you managed to employ a surprisingly high number of rhetorical low blows! But hey, who can you use such tactics on if not friends like me right? ;-)

    Kidding aside — I don’t think there is any standard model that precludes progression between kingdoms. Some people may believe it, but it is far from standard. I do think that there is a standard belief that the resurrection after this life is permanent, though. I am not convinced this is contradictary to Heber’s model though. As I said, the details and mechanics of this whole process are as opaque to me as they are to you. It seems reasonable that we do get a resurrected that is permanent unless we elect to try another probation or something… That seems no less likely than some entropy-free planet of the Telestials. And it avoids all of the huge theological problems with the external barriers to progress we have been discussing. Obviously there are a lot of details we are missing.

    As for the glorification thing, I believe celestial beings will be resurrected to glorified bodies. That is a rather obvious fact I think. I have sort assumed an opt-in plan for those who want to come to an earth and progress and it could potentially apply to glorified (celestialized) noble and great ones too. This is very much in line with the “standard model” in the church that says we opted-in to coming to this earth. The difference with that celestialized group is that they arrive foreordained to be prophets and saints. They come with special missions to assist Christ in His great redemptive mission.

    It certainly would help explain this concept of foreordination wouldn’t it? (See Alma 12-13)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 16, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

  61. I thought it was my turn for a “faith-crippling/false doctrine/pernicious” type bout of hyperbole. It was fun.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 16, 2005 @ 4:19 pm

  62. Geoff,
    OK, so lets pretend that I’m a telestial person because I just like to sin. I’m not generally hostile to the plan, and I can abide a telestial law, but give me the chance, and I like a bit of heck-raising. I’m hanging out in the telestial kingdom and someone says, anyone here want another chance? I’m all about that, right, another chance to go through the thing–another chance to make a grat go of it.
    I think that’s what’s going on when God says that the only way to get people to repent is to have a punishment that is as eternal as the life of the soul. We need a deadline. God is merciful, but he’s not going to suffer sin for eternity.

    Comment by Steve H — April 17, 2005 @ 6:02 pm

  63. That’s a great example Steve. Based on our scriptures let’s consider what happened before that Telestial person ended up in the Telestial kingdom.

    Let’s assume that person lived a riotous life of debauchery and sin in their previous mortal life. What was their reward for that? Well, they went to hell (at least the version of hell we believe in — separate from outer darkness). How long did “hell” last for that person? At least 1000 years because we know that telestial folks get new bopdies only after the Millenium. What happened to them during that time? Details are not clear but we do know they paid for all their own sins themselves. How does that feel? Awful enough that it made the Savior bleed from ever pore:

    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would crepent;
    17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
    18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink- (D&C 19:16-18)

    So the newly humbled, but completely cleansed Telestial person now enters the Telestial kingdom. After some time (maybe hundreds or thousands or millions of years?) the person is ready to repent and become better and to become more like God. The person wants to live at least the terrestrial law or even the celestial law and receive the blessings associated with that obedience. Are you saying God would completely ignore the prayers and repentance of that child of His forever? That God would say, “I gave you one chance to be like me and you blew it. No chance for progression for you ever again!”

    Isn’t that completely at odds with the doctrine that we hold to a loving, merciful, and just God? Such a response would neither be loving, merciful, or just. That is why I do not believe that external barriers to our eternal progress is consistent with scripture or the restored gospel.

    (BTW — I used the terms riotous living on purpose. You might recognize ther term from the parable of the prodigal son. I think that parable applies perfectly to this scenario in the eternities.)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 17, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

  64. I think that much of the statements regarding “forever” and “eternity” need to be better defined. I don’t think that the plan of salvation, the unique plan devised by God for us, will be in effect forever. Once everybody has lived, died and been resurrected it seems to me that there will be no small transition. I believe God will move on to other projects. I believe those who will become Gods will get to embark on some great projects and other “plans of salvation.” Everybody else will probably get something else to work on as well.

    I think that ideas of being assigned to a kingdom forever should be accepted as accurate only within the context of this “plan.” Once the plan is over, all bets are off.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 18, 2005 @ 12:22 pm

  65. the unique plan devised by God for us

    I’m of the opinion the God’s plan on this planet is not unique. I posted on this subject (as related to a great but long Nibley essay) some time ago. The premise of that post was that God’s other projects are just like this project in terms of the blueprint, script, and goals. The course of the Lord is one eternal round after all.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 18, 2005 @ 9:08 pm

  66. “That a just God wouldn’t condemn someone to a eternal punishment as a result of bad decision(s) of a extremely short time on earth?” (#12)

    God punishes someone when s/he knowingly breaks His commandment(s). Period.

    One must keep in mind that “eternal punishment” is not necessarily the same thing as infinite punishment. As others have mentioned:

    “Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.” (D&C 19:11)

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 19, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  67. I thought of another question for you HCKers:

    If this life is but one stepping stone among many on a pathway to exaltation (i.e., if things don’t go great here, you another shot to do better), why would a third part of the premortal host choose outer darkness? It would seem that they believed there was a greater risk then what the your model proports.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 20, 2005 @ 7:28 pm

  68. Well I’ve given this one somethought, J. I don’t have a good answer in either the HCK model or the batch model for the common ideas about this 1/3 group.

    There are so many things we just don’t have clarified yet. Was is 33% or one of three divisions (a la the three degrees)? Are they all consigned to outer darkness? What does that mean exactly? Why would anyone be so stupid in the batch model or the HCK model?

    This is clearly a perplexing case, but it is not more perplexing in the HCK model than is in the batch model as far as I can tell.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 22, 2005 @ 11:12 am

  69. I disagree. It is perplexing in the HCK model, but is not in the Batch model. If you have one shot to mortality, but you don’t have faith in Christ to redeem you, you would go with Lucifer. Plain and simple.

    William Clayton Report WOJS pg. 359-361
    The contention in heaven was Jesus said there were certain man would not be saved the devil said he could save them. he rebelled against God and was thrust down.

    George Laub Journal WOJS pg. 362
    [Satan] spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all [he] even those who sined against the holy ghost and he accused his brethren and was herld [hurled] from the council for striving to breake the law emediatly and there was a warfare with Satan and the gods and the[y] hurld Satan out of his place and all them that would not keep the law of the councill But he himself being one of the council would not keep his or their first estate for he was one of the Sons of perdition and concequently all the Sons of perdition become devils &[c].

    Now as to the volume of that third of the hosts, I don’t know. I doubt it relates to it being a consequtive group (i.e., compared to the first or second) simply becasue we don’t have any evidence for a first or second group.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 22, 2005 @ 2:59 pm

  70. I’m not sure why you think this 1/3 thing is not perplexing in the batch model. Look at the commonly held notion of the event:

    God loves all of those spirits with a deep and love and charity. A plan is formed that would help them come into a closer relationship with Him. Satan proposes a no-risk alternative version of the plan. 1/3 of the spirits go for the no-risk version in hopes they can become closer to God and more like him. They don’t want to gamble (Thanks Pres. H). And as a reward for their low-risk attempt to get closer to God the Father they are bashished to outer darkness to be miserable devils for all eternity.

    Do you think we might be missing some details in that story? It makes absolutely no sense at all in the batch theory or the HCK model based on the facts we now have.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 22, 2005 @ 4:30 pm

  71. […] repentance grace has no effect. Further, many in the Works School believe in some form of progression between kingdoms after this life. Therefore they contend […]

    Pingback by New Cool Thang — August 28, 2005 @ 7:15 pm

  72. Just a quick quote from Page 50 of The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball:

    No progression between kingdoms. After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal! That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right. (MF 243-44)

    Comment by Matt — January 11, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  73. Thanks Matt.

    President Kimball wrote that opinion before he was the prophet. Other apostles and prophets have disagreed with his opinion. They’ll have to duke it out wherever they are I guess. I think he just happened to be in the wrong camp on that debate.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 11, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  74. Unless I am missing something, which I may be, the issue of whether or not there is eternal progression (eternal meaning forever) comes down to two scriptural “facts” we know and one assumption we may or may not make. The two facts we know are: 1) Christ admonished us (or commanded us, if you prefer) to, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” and 2) God the Father gave us free agency. The assumption we may or may not make is that facts 1 and 2 will never change (i.e. end).

    If we believe these two facts won’t end, then we believe in eternal progression. This is because facts 1 and 2 not ending means that we will always have the option of choosing to become perfect as Heavenly Father is–by working (with Christ’s necessary help) to the point where our character allows us to obey the required laws, then by obeying those laws. When we are obeying those laws, we will be as Heavenly Father is character-wise. When we are as he is character-wise, we will receive all the associated blessings because he wants us to have them. Here, I have inherently defined eternal progression as the OPTION of progressing forever, because we can obviously choose not to progress. I think eternal progression and progression between kingdoms are two seperate issues (for reasons which I will explain later).

    If we assume facts 1 and 2 will end at some point, then we do not believe in eternal progression. So the question really is, will facts 1 and 2 end?

    I think that the responses that were given above to Heleman 13:38, Alma 42, and Alma 34:34,35 were sufficient to show that these verses do not prove an end to progression for those who will inherit one of the three degrees of glory. Furthermore, my understanding of the atonement (which may well be wrong) is that it involves a covenant between us and Christ that says in effect that he will never forsake us as long as we desire to be led by him. If this is correct, then the assumption that facts 1 and 2 will never change must be correct. This means that God will never “move on to other projects”, as Jeffrey Giliam suggested might happen in #64. Interestingly, I remember reading somewhere that if God were to break a promise with us that He would then cease to be our God, which is exactly what #64 is saying. Therefore, it is not logically inconsitent. However, the scriptures say that God will never cease to be our God. All of this says there must be eternal progression. If my logic is flawed here or based on a false assumption, please point out my error.

    I think progression between kingdoms and eternal progression are seperate issues for the following reasons. If the kingdoms are physical places, progression between kingdoms is not necessary for progression to occur, because (as we have all experienced for ourselves on earth) we can progress while living in the same kingdom–if the conditions allow it and we chose to. If the kingdoms are not physical places, progression between kingdoms means only continued character development of the individual; hence, by definition, there can be no eternal progression without progression between kingdoms. Either way, progression between kingdoms isn’t the issue; it’s progression in character that is the issue.

    Comment by Bill B — February 17, 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  75. Bill,

    Good thoughts. I agree with your analysis and conclusions.

    There are just a couple of nuances I wanted to point out. First, your said: 2) God the Father gave us free agency. While the scriptures are clear that we are free to choose, it is not necessarily clear that is because God gave us that ability. If we are indeed co-eternal with God and beginningless in one way or another then it seems likely to me that our free will is also beginningless. If that is the case then God didn’t give it to us, it is just is part of our eternal existence. If we are beginningless and there was a time before God gave us free will then that means there may (or must, if we take Joseph’s ring analogy literally) have it taken away.

    Second, I would just point out that free will allows for both spiritual progression and retrogression, so we retain both opportunity and risk throughout the eternities.

    Again though, thanks for the thoughtful addition to this thread.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 17, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

  76. first of all non of you understand the nature of God to make these assumptions. God loves all of us equally now depending on what we do then we reject or denie him. He loves us so much he has given us away to escape our sin and that is through his son Christ. He whatched as his son suffered in the garden for all the sins of the world or an infanent suffering. God did not set the rules they are the rules of the heavens. He made three kingdoms so that we can all have some joy if not all joy depending on our obidience. When Alma the younger was visited by the angle he wished that he could hide himself from the presents of God and cease to exist. sinners that do not repent will be in more pain and tourment in the presents of God for the eternaties o he has made other places for his childeren to have a degree of joy, God cannot change the rules of the heavens or he would cease to be god. He must follow those rules and that is what we are prpareing for here on earth to be 100% obidient just like God is. There is much more about the atonment of Christ we must all learn to understand it better but you cannot change the truth even if you don´t like it there is only one truth and that is all.

    Comment by Unkown — March 21, 2006 @ 7:56 am

  77. I am sorry, I cannot agree with your idea of advancement between Kingdoms. It is just of God to reward man for his labors in the tabernacle of clay. It would be injust of God to do anything else. What kingdom we end up in is completley based on our life here, nothing more, nothing less.

    How far we advance within that kingdom is up to us…. eternal progression to the status of Godhood is only reserved for those in Celestial Kingdom that have been sealed & none else.

    (Plus, Joseph did not say he would have to go to Hell to get Emma. Brigham Yound did).

    Comment by bylawguy — May 25, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  78. In matters of doctrine, there is only one man on the earth authorized to declare the will of the Lord and that is the Presiding high Priest, the Prophet. The words of all other general authorities are subject to inspiration, but they cannot declare doctrine. No prophet has declared progression between kingdoms to be doctrine or false doctrine. (General Conference April 1907)

    The church has no official stand on the doctrine of progression between kingdoms.

    In a letter from Joe J. Christensen Director of the University of Utah Seminary and Institute of religion dated December 17th, 1965, in response to a question directed to him regarding progression between kingdoms he responds:

    “The brethren (The First Presidency) direct me to say that that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point, though some have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others have taken an opposite view. As indicated, however, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.”

    Some posters above feel that to believe in progression between kingdoms, signifies an incomplete understanding of the nature of God. If that is true then many of the Churches General Authorities do not understand Gods nature.

    It is a published fact that general authorities are on both sides of the fence on this topic, and this is not out of harmony with the gospel.

    Also per Truman Madsen it was Joseph that said of Emma, “I’d go to Hell for that woman.” Brigham Young reportedly replied – though probably not in front of Joseph – “And he’ll have to get her.”

    What is so difficult to believe about progression?
    “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 348).

    Comment by D.R. Seaman — January 12, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  79. you know not of progression between kingdoms, this is why the Saviour spoke in parables, so the wise would understand them and the foolish would not. In the Parable of the prodical son; when he came back he was welcomed but he did not recieve a fulness.

    Comment by Sheldon — November 19, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  80. Talk like Yoda, you do, Sheldon.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 19, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  81. “know not” is legitimate English grammar, if a bit archaic. See (for example) John 9:12,21-25,29-30.

    Comment by Mark D. — November 19, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  82. Know much archaic English grammar, you do, young Jedi Mark D.

    Comment by Yoda — November 19, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  83. The Seven Deadly Heresies
    BRUCE R. MCCONKIE

    Bruce R. McConkie was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
    of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside
    address was given at Brigham Young University on 1 June 1980

    “Heresy five: There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were.

    This belief lulls men into a state of carnal security. It causes them to say, “God is so merciful; surely he will save us all eventually; if we do not gain the celestial kingdom now, eventually we will; so why worry?” It lets people live a life of sin here and now with the hope that they will be saved eventually.

    The true doctrine is that all men will be resurrected, but they will come forth in the resurrection with different kinds of bodies–some celestial, others terrestrial, others telestial, and some with bodies incapable of standing any degree of glory. The body we receive in the resurrection determines the glory we receive in the kingdoms that are prepared.

    Of those in the telestial world it is written: “And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end” (D&C 76:112).

    Of those who had the opportunity to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in this life and who did not do it, the revelation says:

    Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven; which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

    For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. [D&C 132:16­17]

    They neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, it is within a sphere.”

    Comment by Travis S — July 24, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  84. Travis,

    I’ll see your one apostle and raise you two apostles, two presidents of the church, and a Secretary to the First Presidency writing on their behalf.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 24, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  85. Travis:

    In a very serious note, it is things like Seven Deadly Heresies which make it hard fro me to read anything by Bruce R. McConkie anymore. It’s sad, because Bruce R. McConkie was an amazing apostle, and obvioulsy very devoted to his work, but he’s in conflict with other apostles and prophets often. This really bogs me down in alot of ways, and I find myself putting most of his doctrinal statements in the same cabinet I put Paul H. Dunn’s statements, Not because they are all bad and controversial, but because it takes too much energy to clear the chaff from the wheat. If I wanted chaff, I’d still be Catholic.

    Comment by Matt W. — July 24, 2008 @ 11:34 am

  86. You guys, I think Travis’ point is that there *is* progression between kingdoms. He is quoting McConkie to prove his point. Whenever McConkie gets ultra dogmatic as in the quote above, his batting average goes way down, so his insistence on this point virtually gaurantees that I’ll be clawing my way up from the telestial to the terrestrial some day. I’m pretty sure that is Travis’ point.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 24, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

  87. I see — sort of like sarcasm or opposite day…

    Comment by Geoff J — July 24, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  88. Exactly. If it turns out (however unlikely) that I have misunderstood Travis, he might want to consider providing some commentary with his blockquote next time. I’ve taken my best guess at his intention, though, so until I hear otherwise I’ll confidently assume I have correctly divined his meaning.

    Comment by Jacob J — July 24, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  89. Well if nothing else his rather opaque drive-by comment prompted me to create a useful perma-page for future reference so something good came of it.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 24, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

  90. Its all very interesting, discussing the possibilty of progression between kingdoms, and if indeed it is possible, then there is great reason to reserve the topic to mere debate; for debate is merely debate, whereas revelation is revelation. Heavenly father has revealed this: that he will be the judge on what goes on in eternity. So why give ourselves headaches??

    Comment by martin k — July 26, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  91. No two souls are the same. That is a great thing. There must be so much that we just cant comprehend, but i know this, that not everything will be as we think eventually. The weak shall inherit the earth and thats a fact!

    Comment by martin k — July 26, 2008 @ 8:43 am

  92. Lovely discussion. My heart falls utterly and inextricably into the progression camp. Being imperfect, but somewhat loving and just, I could not condemn another to a limited/damned eternity based on one lifetime. Yet God is perfectly just and loving. How could such a thing be just? I suppose that for a few that were exposed completely to the light and openly rejected it and utterly rebelled against it I could conceive of such a punishment or more kindly destruction.

    I take it on faith, based on the feelings of wonderment and joy that comes from God, that there is a play on words similar to the eternal punishment ploy(eternal being a name of God) that was used to spur effort towards God, but did not reflect the true situation of the wicked.

    Would a father condemn a child for being angry on a car trip to never inherit the family business or to never be married or to never have children? This is the kind of magnitude that eternal damnation suggests.

    I leave open the possibility that forces beyond my ken are in operation. But, I have to laugh at myself while I say this, because if I do not understand these forces then how can I be culpable, particularly for a judgement without end.

    Some may argue with this line of reasoning, but Joseph Smith taught that faith was based on knowing that Heavenly Father is perfectly loving and perfectly just. I simply combined this logic with the Lord’s comparision of earthly fathers compared to our Heavenly Father when it comes to prayer.

    Comment by Lane — June 23, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  93. I like your short car trip analogy Lane. I’ll probably borrow it (or a variation on it) some time.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 24, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  94. I have been exposed to another thought through a talk that I did not like much, but felt in the interest of fairness, it should be brought up. Besides, I have not read a convincing argument against progression between kingdoms or multiple probations, and wanted to give some ammunition. For clarity a convincing argument would move beyond quotes to a logical explanation of why there is no progression. And don’t give me, we can’t comprehend what God comprehends. If I can’t comprehend it then I am not culpable.

    The idea is that we have been progressing as spirits for billions of years and this life is little more than icing on the cake where our true nature is revealed, rather than us really choosing between right and wrong. In this framework there is almost no movement from say a person who was telestial prior this this earth to terestrial during this life and so forth.

    This idea solves the problem of attaching an endless punishment/damnation to a lifetime of less than 120 years, because we had already come to a state of rest (neither getting better or worse) before we came to this earth. This idea is kind of like election or just fate. My brother-in-law subscribes to this thought. He thinks there are different levels of beings, and their lives just reflect who they have come to be prior to this life.

    There are loads of scriptures to support this idea, just read the Book of Abraham. There are also loads of scriptures about agency and being commanded to repent that fight this idea.

    Personally, I wince at such thoughts because of what they imply about my ability to change, but who knows.

    I can say for certain the some people seem to be naturally righteous compared to others. Plus, I do find it remarkable hard to change habits, particularly habits of thought. I chalk most of peoples natures to socialization though. But, maybe the die is already cast for me and I am just playing out a role I was destined to play due to my inherent nature that was defined over billions of years prior to this life.

    This does seem to be a cruel situation, where we are here for little more than to get a body and confirm already made choices. Or said another way, if the die is already set, then why bother with this world. It also makes me wonder why the host of heaven shouted for joy at the thought of coming here. Like I said at the beginning, I do not like this idea, but it does solve attaching a never ending punishment to this life.

    Comment by Lane — September 14, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  95. Not a bad attempt Lane.

    The primary weakness of that argument is that it is in essence a variation on the predestination position. In other words, it assumes that we have a core unchangeable nature that arrives with us here on earth and we are simply acting out our inexorable march toward heaven or hell based on that unchangeable core/nature. That flies in the face of the idea of destiny-making agency so central to Mormonism. Further it makes this life nothing more than a formality (the old BS line about this life not being for God to judge us but for us to learn who we really are).

    Further, if we are to believe Joseph Smith we have not just “been progressing as spirits for billions of years”, rather we have been progressing as spirits forever — an infinity of time. So that cake needs no icing.

    SO like Calvinism, that idea is logically sound. It is just contrary to many core Mormon beliefs so I think it fails in a Mormon context.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 14, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

  96. Geoff:

    Further, if we are to believe Joseph Smith we have not just “been progressing as spirits for billions of years”, rather we have been progressing as spirits forever

    While Joseph did teach we have existed forever, is it really fair to say he said we have been progressing forever? I’m not debating here, I am sincerely interested in any citations you have that would lean toward eternal progression. (I guess I am thinking of Brigham Young’s teachings regarding periods of retrogression for certain spirits and am curious if Smith really does go strictly against that.) Even in Popular LDS culture where we teach Eternal Pregression we talk about damnation in terms of stopped progression, right?

    Comment by Matt W. — September 15, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  97. Matt,

    One could hypothesize that we were eternally unconscious I suppose. I see that as a backdoor way to try to weasel out of the teaching that we are co-eternal with God but I can understand why some would like to preach a beginning point to our minds becoming conscious.

    But by “progression” I meant to encompass both progressions and retrogression in that passing statement you quoted. Don’t read too much into it.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 15, 2009 @ 8:52 am

  98. K, I’m cool with that.

    Comment by matt w. — September 15, 2009 @ 9:38 am

  99. Matt W., Brigham Young did not just teach spiritual retrogression, he taught that the second death was the reduction of the spirit to its native element (i.e. “dust”, or rather “intelligence”).

    That means the end of personal identity, until the particles of intelligence are gathered together in some form of rather literal spirit birth.

    Lately I have been leaning towards Brigham Young’s general position on the subject here, which is quite a departure from Joseph Smith’s, in terms of beginningless spirits.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 16, 2009 @ 6:37 am

  100. Mark D.- I’m aware of Brigham’s Teaching. regarding the ability for a spirit to devolve so much it ceases to be a spirit. I was speaking more generally in terms of his teaching that spirits could devolve to begin with.

    It’s good to know Mark that we all try out different views from time to time. There are quite a few things appealing about Brigham’s ideas.

    Comment by Matt W. — September 16, 2009 @ 7:22 am

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