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?