Who were the inhabitants of all those other worlds?

April 10, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 12:05 am   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Scriptures,Theology

As the second post in this purely speculative discussion on the innumerable inhabited worlds that, according to our scriptures, have already passed, I will discuss the question: Who were the inhabitants of all those other worlds? It is an easy assumption to make that humans inhabited those worlds (since God the Father was among them according to Joseph), but the unanswered question is who were they? I have heard two theories:

The Batch Theory
One theory I’ve heard is that each earth had its own batch of people that inhabited it. In other words, eternal spirits/intelligences are grouped somehow in batches and they prepare (through a merit program) in some pre-mortal place and get a lone chance to go to their earth, get a body and be tested, and afterwards they are assigned permanently to a kingdom of glory. This is probably the best way to explain the My Turn on Earth model of the pre-mortal life that I have been discussing lately.

A major problem with this Batch theory for me is that verse 39 in Moses 1 explains that God’s work and glory is to assist mankind in becoming exalted. Yet we know that strait is the gate that leads to eternal life and few there be that find it in this life. This problem is exacerbated if there is no progression between kingdoms in the afterlife. If the kingdom assignment (Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial) we receive after this life is permanent then our scriptures make it clear that very few indeed will end up truly exalted. (I’ll post specifically on this issue later) How do we reconcile these two scriptural teachings? On the one hand God’s mission statement is to get us exalted yet on the other hand the scriptures say very few of us will actually be exalted. Either God is a failure at his work and glory or something is amiss with this model.

The Heber C. Model
This model, as I understand it, has those worlds before inhabited not by other batches of spirits but rather by us. I attribute it to Heber C. Kimball because of the quote I mentioned over in an earlier post about life and death being like being awake and sleeping. He says every day we make progress or we don’t here, and this is like what we do in life too. Every night we go to sleep — this is like dying. Every morning we wake up and go to work again — this is like resurrection.

The more I have pondered on it, the more I like the implications of this model. It solves this problem of the inherent prodigal waste of souls that the Batch theory is saddled with. (The worth of souls is great after all.) It also solves the problem of God being a failure at his work and glory. With this model we are not just part of a batch of souls where only a tiny percentage are actually exalted but rather we are truly beloved children of our God and we are given as many chances as we need to progress or regress as individuals. Rather than a system with external barriers to our progress, the only barrier we face throughout eternity in this model is ourselves. We remain always in motion throughout eternity if this model is true – either becoming more like God or less like God.

The problems with this model are pretty obvious though. First, it sounds like reincarnation which has been repeatedly condemned as a false doctrine by church authorities. This would probably be avoided by noting that reincarnation means we live multiple lives with different identities on this earth. This idea is not that and so it is not reincarnation. The second issue is with the commonly held notion that there is no possible way to separate a spirit from a resurrected body. I have some ideas of how that might be dealt with, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on that. A practical problem with teaching this doctrine might be that it could lead to a greater likelihood of procrastinating the day of our repentance — a behavior that is expressly condemned in our scriptures. Other problems have to do with temple sealings and other related details. Feel free to mention other problems if you’d like as well.

What do you think? Are there other models that could explain who inhabited those previous worlds? Obviously we are speculating here, so any guess will do – especially if you can come up with some logic to defend it.

29 Comments »

  1. I’ve heard it explained (don’t remember where) that only the very worst of spirits and only the very best of spirits were ‘assigned’ to this earth. If I remember correctly it was further explained that no other world was wicked enough to kill their Christ. (Which implies that there is only one saviour for all the worlds).

    Comment by yddy42 — April 10, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  2. A problem I have with what you call “The Heber C. Model” is the yo-yo effect. I like to think that most days I am pretty ‘good’, however occasionaly I slip-up. I have the ability to remember that I was good and can repent and try to be better. I can’t imagine being ‘good’ for several life times in a row and then being ‘bad’ for a lifetime, and then ‘good’ – what is the purpose if we have a veil between lifetimes?

    Comment by yddy42 — April 10, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

  3. yddy42: I’ve heard that worst of all worlds speculation too. I think it is about as binding as what you read here though…

    The yo-yo effect you mention is an interesting problem. I have assumed that there are several factors at play that would alleviate that problem. In this model those who have proven themselves valiant over time are probably the ones that Abraham called the noble and great ones. They include the ones like Jeremiah who were chosen to be prophets and leaders before they were born. The likelihood of the veil causing major problems seems slim to me because the bedrock character must be a difficult thing to change quickly. It seems like a person could certainly get better or worse in any given probationary state but it’s not like we are starting from scratch every time. We bring ourselves with us don’t we?

    In addition, the scriptures indicate that prophets were foreordained to their callings. The obvious extrapolation is that we all were born in the situations in which we were born partly (if not entirely) because of our choices before this life. The key test (according to the parable of the talents) apparently is to see what we do with the opportunities we receive in life. The parable seems to say that if we make the most of our opportunities now we will be given many more opportunities to be tested on in the the future. With this model that would mean future probationary states I guess.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 10, 2005 @ 5:33 pm

  4. I liked Hyrum Smith’s talk on the “kingdom like the moon” waxing and waning as it filled up with those on their way through and then emptied again.

    A close reading reveals that each land was an earth … and the history of this earth (land) only is given.

    Other earths would be those in other lands …

    But, the four beasts before the Father are four individual beasts who also represent four orders, which I always thought of as orders of creation. Plasma based creation, methane based creation, etc., that sort of thing.

    Some interesting thoughts you’ve started on.

    (though I need to get you to link directly to my website so I can talk myself into editing my links — I’m going to delete everyone who doesn’t link back to my site and quit visiting places that aren’t on my link list).

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 10, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

  5. That sounds like a very interesting sermon, Stephen. I’m not familiar with it — do you have any details on it so I can look it up?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 10, 2005 @ 6:06 pm

  6. That was more than twenty years ago that I ran across the sermon. Back then I didn’t keep references as much and always thought my friends would always be around to find again. Sigh.

    Sorry I don’t have a reference on the sermon.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — April 10, 2005 @ 7:43 pm

  7. “If the kingdom assignment (Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial) we receive after this life is permanent then our scriptures make it clear that very few indeed will end up truly exalted.” – Geoff Johnston

    I believe that I’ve read in the “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” something to the effect that the kingdom assingnment is not fixed and that even in the next life there will be those spirits who can move from the Telestial to the Terrestrial and then to the Celestial, but since sealings will have been finished that the one assignment that is fixed is the top tier of the Celestial kingdom. This makes the most sense to me given that it would not seem just to punish someone for eternity for something done in such a few moments in earth life. It would be like sentencing someone to life in prison for stealing a candy bar. The movement between the kingdoms seems more just.

    Comment by anonymous — April 11, 2005 @ 10:09 am

  8. Anon,

    I concur. External permanent assignment to degree of glory makes no sense. I plan to post on this subject separately as well. However, I think in order for there to be justice and opposition in all things there cannot be permanent assignment to the highest reward either. I think that is why our scriptures leave open the possibility even of “God ceasing to be God”.

    So if this is the case the question becomes how do we continue to progress or regress after this life? What kind of probations do we have? Right now the only model I’ve seen to step up to the plate and answer these question is the “Heber C.” model. Perhaps there is a more correct theory/model out there… I’m hoping someone here can offer some good ideas up.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 11, 2005 @ 10:51 am

  9. I just stumbled upon another argument against the HCK Model:

    The teaching that little children and those ignorant of the Gospel (who would have recieved it) are saved in Celestial glory seems to explicitly dictate a shortcut of sorts. Moreover, this doctrine is canonized.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 11, 2005 @ 6:46 pm

  10. J,

    I think think those verses actually support the Heber C. model. If Heber was right then it makes sense that little children who died could have already qualified themselves for celestial glory before arriving and dying as a little child here. It means that God is still just.

    If this life is the only probation we have and little children who die get a free pass to celestial glory, how is God still a just God? Further, how is it that all of them are celestial persons in their core if they have not become Christlike through the refiners fire as Christ, the Father, and all the prophets did?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 11, 2005 @ 8:18 pm

  11. I’ll admit to it being quite problematic for any scenario. However, as we all concur (I think) that eternal glory is a state of being, it seems that the HCK model has more than others. In the batch model, you can get to the celestial kingdom and still progress and work on becoming better (at least in all the incarnations that I am aware of). In the HCK model, you only get the Celestial Kingdom when you are celestial material. I think that when you add free agency into the mix, there are pleanty of children that die, that are not explicitly and currently celestial material.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 11, 2005 @ 8:28 pm

  12. I agree, J. This whole concept is problematic any way you look at it. I just think the Heber C. model deals with it the best of the models I have heard. I have to wonder if Joseph would have added a caveat or some qualifications to verse 10 if he had been permitted to tarry longer… God’s mercy cannot rob justice after all and He cannot compel our character to change to become celestial-quality character. We must use our agency to do that on our own.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 11, 2005 @ 9:21 pm

  13. In the HCK model as discussed above and little children, I think two other factors are of interest. First if you use the HCK model and say that little children can go to the Celestial kingdom because the qualified on a prior earth, then why didn’t they go at death on the prior earth. Why would they need to come to this earth, just to die again and go to the Celestial Kingdom. That make no sense to me.

    Second, which is a bigger consideration for this whole discussion is the Millenium. We have 1,000 years during the Millenium. Considering what can be done in a 80 year life span, think of the progress that will be made by each of us if we have 1,000 years…and no Satan.

    And as aside, feeling that God is failing to exalt enough of His children as an argument that there must be some other way of getting to the Celestial Kingdom than just this earth life has a couple of problems as well. First, maybe this whole thing about becoming a God is a difficult program, in the eternal prospective. Maybe, with agency it isn’t for everyone. When you consider how many people really do qualify for the Celestial Kingdom, it’s a pretty good number. (All infants who have died, all who died without the gospel but accept it in the spirit world, all who are born during the 1,000 years of the Millenium…that’s an absolutely huge number…and then those who receive the gospel and keep the commandments.)

    Maybe God is doing a terrific job in exalting His children…under the circumstances. Maybe He is doing better than other Gods. How do we measure how well He is doing?

    Comment by don — April 12, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  14. Don,

    I agree with you that exaltation cannot be cheap. One of the things I’ll discuss in a later post is the idea that some people (and I am agnostic on this one) have that true and full exaltation (for men, at least) requires doing everything Jesus did at some point in eternities. That is obviously speculation, but it can be an easy assumption to make based on things Joseph taught in the KFD, etc.

    As I said, I don’t know what to make of the 137:10 verse yet. But we do know God is just and as J. said it is clear that we are rewarded because of what we fundamentally are. So if all those children who have died fundamentally are celestial beings already then they must have achieved that status through their agency before this earth was formed.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 12, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

  15. “Second, which is a bigger consideration for this whole discussion is the Millenium. We have 1,000 years during the Millenium. Considering what can be done in a 80 year life span, think of the progress that will be made by each of us if we have 1,000 years…and no Satan.” – Don

    Hey Don, could you give me your break down of what’s suppose to happen in those 1000 years? I still haven’t pieced together my ideas on that. What kind of progress would the Celestial bodies be doing and where? How about the Terrestial?

    “And as aside, feeling that God is failing to exalt enough of His children as an argument that there must be some other way of getting to the Celestial Kingdom than just this earth life has a couple of problems as well. First, maybe this whole thing about becoming a God is a difficult program, in the eternal prospective. Maybe, with agency it isn’t for everyone. When you consider how many people really do qualify for the Celestial Kingdom, it’s a pretty good number. (All infants who have died, all who died without the gospel but accept it in the spirit world, all who are born during the 1,000 years of the Millenium…that’s an absolutely huge number…and then those who receive the gospel and keep the commandments.) ” – Don

    It seems contradictory to say that becoming a God is a difficult program and then say all infants who die get a free ride and those lucky enough to be born during the Millenium get it easy. Doesn’t seem difficult for them. Batch theory is very weak here. I’ve had a very difficult time with the idea that infants get a free ride even though I know its been canonized.

    Here’s one of the reasons: Lets say a real crazy Mormon dude strongly believes these things but for whatever reason doesn’t feel he can be strong enough to make it to the Celestial kingdom. So he decides to sacrifice his exaltation and goes on an infant killing spree. He thinks that he is doing the ultimate sacrifice: giving up his spiritual life, in order to guarantee the utmost spritual life for the murdered children. The ends justify the means? Crazy. Thats the reason I have serious issues with that doctrine.

    In the HCK model the dead infant straight to Celestial kingdom idea seems to have more merit.

    Comment by Speak Up — April 13, 2005 @ 10:14 pm

  16. […] our scriptures and in the church. In the second of the series we explored the question of who the inhabitants of those planets were. It basically comes down to one fundamental question: Were we those peo […]

    Pingback by New Cool Thang » Did each world have a savior of its own? — April 22, 2005 @ 2:25 pm

  17. If we are eternal beings, as Joseph Smith taught, where have we been forever? How did we learn to handle all the things that we have to handle as people, or gods in embryo–all the things that you don’t have to worry about if you are a salamander or a golden retriever? Could it be that eternal progression is a very long process? That you have to grow line upon line, precept upon precept forever? That we’ve had forever to get to where we are now, and that has included MMP to teach us everything we need to be able to fulfill our current callings and priesthood ordinations?

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 3:01 pm

  18. I’m with ya Rob. What took you so long to come around here at the Thang?

    Comment by Geoff J — January 18, 2006 @ 4:23 pm

  19. Trying to cut back on my blogging! ;)

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

  20. With the HCK Model, perhaps we shouldn’t look at it that children earned their celestial glory prior to this life, so that if they die, they are taken straigth there. This would suggest that God only allows children to die who were previously prepared for celestial glory. God stands back, gives us our agency, so that someone can kill a child of their own free will, and that child may or may not be prepared for celestial glory.

    With the HCK Model, the best way to look at it is this:

    A child that dies here, will have ANOTHER probation AFTER this life, to gain the experience they were deprived of here. In this way, they still have their agency. Perhaps Joseph Smith’s statement should be interpreted that children who die still have the opportunity for celestial glory, and not that they are forced into it. Because that is Lucifer’s plan–forcefully saving everyone. And if it wasn’t Lucifer’s plan, then why doesn’t God just kill everyone, and force us into his Kingdom, so we can all be saved?

    It must be based on agency, and it must be based upon the experienced of mortality. If a child dies here, they must be brought back again to another mortal existence AFTER this life.

    Comment by John Coltharp — September 9, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  21. Interesting site John. I may reference it in the future if someone wants a collection of pro-MMP quotes.

    Comment by Geoff J — September 9, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  22. The type of kingdom a soul inherits, i believe, is perfectly relative to the given judgement at that time.I think certain souls will be permitted to be elevated upwards and be able to progress thruogh kingdoms. Heavenly father is the only arbiter on this.

    Comment by martin k — July 26, 2008 @ 8:24 am

  23. Saying “few” will be saved (exalted) is a relative term. If there was such a thing as progression between kingdoms, then sealings in the temple, etc., are a farce: “Why bother when IN ENOUGH TIME we can still progress to exaltation.” May sound good, but it’s a false doctrine.

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  24. Why would sealings in the temple be a farce if there was progression between kingdoms? The temple itself would be a farce if there were no possibility of post mortal progression.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 10, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  25. There is post eternal progression sure enough, but not from Telestial to Terrestrial on to Celestial and on to exaltation. To answer your question about why I said temple ordinances would be a farce, is because they must be done by mortals. And if one can progress as you apparently believe one can, then temple ordinances are in fact not needed, so our doctrine that temple ordinances in this life are necessary for exaltation must therefore be false.

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  26. There is post eternal progression sure enough, but not from Telestial to Terrestrial on to Celestial and on to exaltation.

    There you go again spouting your personal opinions as if they were facts. You really ought to work on that Samuel.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 10, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

  27. Well, you’re right, Geoff, when you say that they are my opinion. Because you read someone else’s “opinion,” does that make it fact? What “facts” do you have to the contrary?

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  28. Because you read someone else’s “opinion,” does that make it fact?

    Of course not. But in English, when you say something like: “There is post eternal progression sure enough, but not from Telestial to Terrestrial on to Celestial and on to exaltation” you are stating it as if it were a fact. Since it is your opinion it is appropriate to caveat your statements with something like “in my opinion” or “I believe” or “I think the evidence indicates”.

    (No charge for the English communication lesson!)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 10, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  29. 1)Children: There was a quote by Joseph Smith talking about his children that had died and saying that he would have a chance to nurture them to full growth in the nextlife. He saddened over them for they would still have to suffer and endure things as we do here. Thats not exact and not sure the source of it…Truman G Madsen i think quoted it in one of this JS cd lectures.

    Also maybe they were preordained in this life to pass away that they would become a trial and help us progress. In this since they are serving those people and giving up a time on this earth.

    The thing that doesnt make since is in Alma 13:5 tells us that we were all at the same standing but some showed exceedingly great faith which now put them in different standings. Isnt not showing perfect faith sinful? So then we as spirits couldn’t dwell with god anymore being unclean?

    2)As for

    I said temple ordinances would be a farce, is because they must be done by mortals. And if one can progress as you apparently believe one can, then temple ordinances are in fact not needed

    Temples are very interesting. None of the ordinances done in this life are final. “For the temple work is in planning stage” -Hugh Nibley. Nibley also quoted the prophet Joseph F Smith (or fielding?) His grandmother was in the temple with him (The prophet) and Bro Smith told her. “All this work will have to be done again”, “This is just a dry run, it isnt working here at all”(though this didnt keep him from going to the temple). Remember it says in the temple “These blessings are according to your faithfulness, to be received LATER”

    i.e Isaiah 33:14-16 talks about how to enter the temple but describes the heavenly temple. These temples in heaven is where we will have to do the Same ordinances(Same or different not sure) again or otherwise have them sealed upon our head and actually receive our crowns, thrones, & Dominions. Where is heaven? Earth will the be celestial heaven for the faithful.

    Of course we must do the mortal ordinances of temple work still, their just more preparatory to prepare us. Even Alma 13:8 says “they were…ordained with a holy ordinance…which ordinance…is without beginning or end” We received ordinances before this life. Most likely similar to the ones here, if we continue faithful in all things and overcome we will receive all the ordinances. Perfection in this life is to “Receive all those ordinances required of us in this life and be obedient to them” Perfection is relative.

    Last John Taylor stated that 1/10 people in the spirit world would reject the ordinances. If they are celestial ordinances does that mean 90% will be saved in the celestial kingdom? Even though they didnt accept them in this life?

    3)The scriptures tell us we progress from
    line upon line
    precept upon precept
    Grace to Grace
    Exaltation to Exaltation
    Eternity to Eternity

    4)Our spirits are co-eternal with god -KFD. We have existed the same amount of time thus the thing that seperates us was due to our AGENCY (D&C 93) This supports the Progression/Regression. Or perhaps we have just been progressing more slowly but why if so?

    5)Sorry if this is too much in one post….

    Ill post this later about the progression of the 3 kingdoms… But i don’t think we go “through” kingdoms (except perhaps being able to pull sealed children/family up after saving them and them correcting themselves but they still would be less perfected). We progress were we are at and reach exaltation from that point. Perhaps we missed many times our chance to make it to a glory of a celestial world and hit a different glory and had to progress slower due to that compared to them in a higher order world. Each kingdom is a different world or planet after all. Just a lower order… The Lord will have to set new laws to enlarge our spirits and institute a plan to do so for those spirits.

    Comment by Curtis H — October 5, 2009 @ 11:17 am

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