Did each world have a savior of its own?

April 22, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 2:22 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Theology

As promised, this is the third in my series about the worlds without number and the inhabitants thereof talked about in 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 people or were they completely separate batches of spirits? (We are calling the first model the Heber C. Kimball (HCK) Model because he and other 19th century leaders taught it and the latter The Batch Model). Not surprisingly opinions differ on this issue. A separate but related question is: Did each of those worlds have a savior inhabit it?

That is an interesting question. Perhaps the first question to examine is what implications of a yes or no answer to this question would have on the two models at hand (I’m using these two because they are the only reasonable ones I can think of or find. If you have another to add please let us know)

Batch Model, No: If the answer is no in the batch model then who did they look to as an exemplar and savior on those planets? It is hard enough to have faith in Jesus of Millennia past or future, how hard would it be to believe in a Jesus on another planet in the heavens? I think the batch model brings up all sorts of sticky questions, but I may be missing something.

Batch Model, Yes: If it is a yes in the batch model then the obvious next question is who were those saviors then? Does each planet in the batch model have its own separate Godhead? If not then does Jesus have to go through an atonement on each planet? Or since Joseph taught that the Father was a mortal at one time was he a savior then? It seems a yes in the batch model struggles here as well.

HCK Model, No: If we were the ones on those other planets the questions still arise about who we looked to as an exemplar if none of the Godhead atoned for us there. Who paid for the sins of the saints in that case? Was it our Jesus on our planet? There were innumerable worlds after all… doesn’t that seem a bit asymmetrical?

HCK Model, Yes:
If we lived on those previous planets and each had its own savior the only question would be who was it? Some believe our current Godhead is always and will always be the Godhead. Others believe that each planet gets a new Godhead and its own savior. This of necessity leads to a regress of Gods I think. The last answer makes the most logical sense to me, honestly.

Now, having said that, I know Blake believes (and may teach in his forthcoming book) that our Godhead has always been fully divine and that the Father spent a mortal probation on another planet much in the way Jesus did (though not necessarily as a savior if I remember correctly). Over at Splendid Sun he also pulled this interesting quote from Joseph out that could sway some opinions:

Moreover, look at JS’s poetic rendition of the Vision: “He’s the Savior, and only Begotten of God – /By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,/ Even all that careen in the heavens so broad./ Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,/ Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours…” Times & Seasons, February 1843, 4:81-85. That seems to say that all inhabitants of all worlds are saved by the same Savior. Verse 7 of this poetic version of the Vision states that it covered: “From the coucil in Kolob, to time on the earth. And for ages to come.” So it seems to say that Christ is the only Savior for the all worlds – doesn’t it?

Now that is not enough to convince me that Joseph still felt all planets had the same savior at the end of his life (a year later) even if he did at the time he wrote this. The evidence in the King Follett Discourse and the Sermon on the Grove seem too compelling for me to be convinced otherwise (despite the admirable limbo-ing Blake does around those sermons in his new book). I suspect either that the additional light had not been given to Joseph when he penned this or that the title “Savior” does not have to mean a specific individual any more that the title Bishop does, or both.

In any case, this is starting to get to the heart of this unresolved matter. I know we won’t resolve things here, but I wonder what you think about this subject. Did each world get its own savior? Which model to you like and why?

22 Comments »

  1. I think your bias is showing through a little to heavily, eh? While you discount the Batch Model Yes option you hail the HCK Model Yes option. The arguments you use for the HCKMY option apply just as well to the BMY option.

    In the BMY option, it is easy to imagine (IMO) that there is a premortal council that is the same as ours held for every world. What is so difficult about that?

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 22, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  2. Well, I certainly have a bias, but only because I have thought through the options already. I think a yes answer is made much more logical if there is a different Godhead for every planet. A different Godhead for every planet makes a lot more sense in the HCK model than the batch model. Am I missing something here that refutes any of that conclusion?

    So in the batch model with a yes, how is there a savior in each? The scripures say that our God created them all so who played the role of savior on each world? Are you envisioning that the Father bears a new batch of spirit children and makes the firstborn a savior on every planet or something? (That sounds unlike what you’ve in the past but I can imagine someone believing that…)

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 22, 2005 @ 3:50 pm

  3. I should clarify that I think we could reconcile the ideas of or God creating them all and a different Godhead for each planet with the well known LDS concepts of “divine investiture of authority” and the title Elohim, which is a plural. The only way I can see this as possible is through a regress of Gods — Fathers and Sons. The well trodden idea is that our Father was the Savior on the last planet and that Jesus will be the Father on the next. That seems most consistent with the KFD to me. That way when our God says he created them all he could easily be speaking for his Fathers (via divine investiture of authority) with whom he is one.

    How would you reconcile a different Godhead and/or savior for each planet with the batch model?

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 22, 2005 @ 4:18 pm

  4. Interestingly, Joseph Smith was well aware of this problem. The question of the need for saviors on alian planets was first raised (to my knowledge) by Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason as an argument against Christianity. Joseph, of course, read this when he was young, and there were debates about the book in the School of the Prophets. My understanding of Joseph’s answer is that Jesus atoned for all the sins of Heavenly Father’s spirit children (regardless of what planet the ended up on). I take the implication of the King Follet to be that someday, some of us will be Gods and we’ll create worlds and we’ll so love them that we’ll give our only begotten son. And this spirit and physical child of ours will atone for the sins of all of our spirit children. This seems to me consistent with the HCK Yes model.

    By the way, infinite regresses are only bad when it is taken as axiomatic that there must be a beginning. But there is no logical reason why any series to have a beginning or an end. For example, the series of signed integers regresses infinitely in both directions.

    Comment by Arturo Toscanini — April 23, 2005 @ 7:53 pm

  5. Arturo! Welcome back to the Thang. We haven’t seen you here since you changed your online name!

    It appears what you are leaning toward is more of a variation on the Batch Model No. The HCK Model Yes assumes what is more commonly called multiple mortal probations. I have dubbed it the Heber C model because HCK taught the doctrine along with other 19th century luminaries. (That MMP term is often associated with apostate fundamentalist groups and I want to distance myself from them as I examine these models so I came up withmy own name for the specific concept as I understand it.) So HCK yes really would be a model where every world has a new Godhead and a new savior and the same group of spirits (us) inhabits them all until we either become like God or like Satan or neither I suppose. (I’m not sure how deeply any of them thought through the details.)

    If you believe that Jesus atoned for the sins of all of God’s children on all planets then it is certainly one of the No options. If you think we all get just one mortal probation the it would be Batch No. If you think we can have multiple probations then it would be HCK No.

    I actually avoided the term infinite when I mentioned a regress of Gods. I’m not sure that an infinite regress of Gods works. Blake makes some pretty good arguments about a single ultimate Divine Monarch. He assumes it is that very Father that is the Father of Jesus. I lean toward the idea that He is generations ahead of the Father of Jesus (based on the evidence as I read it). Either way, if there is an ultimate individual Divine monarch that means the regress itself is finite.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 24, 2005 @ 12:17 am

  6. Yes, I misunderstood your HCK model, and I wasn’t thinking in terms of the multiple mortal probation model. Was HCK really that explicit on the matter? I’ve always found that reading to be a bit of a stretch (as opposed to, say, the Adam-God theory, which is pretty explicit). He did discuss successive probations, but it’s never struck me as fundamentally inconsistant with the first estate, second estate, nth estate… model that we currently use. So that we’re still progressing after this life (as we were before it), but that this is the only time that we’re clothed in a mortal body and encumbered by a veil. But perhaps I’m just buying into the current orthodoxy too much.

    And how does Blake square his theory with King Follet? (I’m thinking of things like, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea…”)

    Comment by Arturo Toscanini — April 24, 2005 @ 4:36 am

  7. The quote from HCK I posted earlier could be considered fairly explicit but could be interpreted other ways too. Jeff Gilliam went kamikaze on the subject on posted many of the more famous quotes for the idea over at his blog. The evidence seems to show the HCK, Eliza R Snow, one or two Orsons, and many other 19th century luminaries believed or at least gave credence to the idea. That is why I think it is worth looking into. The more I do the more I can see its appeal. It seems to answer more questions than the other popular model floating around nowadays.

    That said, I only lean to it because it works better for me than the Batch Theory I described in a previous post. I am interested in any additional options that may be out there. The idea you posit about multiple probations with only one of them being mortal sounds interesting but I can’t figure out what it means exactly. Have you considered how the details would work in such an option? I also am enamored with the oft-repeated scriptural saying “the course of the Lord is one eternal round”. I believe that supports the HCK model pretty well in that God seems to use the same exact patterns over and over in our universe.

    As for Blake squaring with the KFD — he devotes an entire chapter to this in his forthcoming book. (I harrassed him enough to let me see a sneak peek of that chapter already). Perhaps he will show up here and comment as well. The basics are that he believes God the Father who was always God the Father chose to come to a previous earth. He did imply that the other two members of the Godhead covered for God in that short probation. I’m not sure how he deals with details beyond that though…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 24, 2005 @ 1:27 pm

  8. I’ve seen those quotes before when arguing with fundies. But (unlike BY and Adam-God) the expression of the concrete point seems ellusive; there’s always some amount of extrapolation required and linking of quotes from different contexts. Even so, I take the Journal of Discourses to be on par as a doctrinal source with Orson Pratt’s 1879 Book of Mormon footnotes. I take Joseph Smith’s pronouncements to be more reliable, because they didn’t tend to be speculations offered at private gatherings among an insular community.

    I’ll have to check out Blake’s book. I doubt he’d show up here to explain things on my account. He may well be more indifferent to me than anyone else in the bloggernacle (thanks to a fallout I had with him on Clark’s site on the never ending thread on positivism; I was arguing for it, and he seemed to me to be unable to stay on topic when arguing against it).

    Comment by Arturo Toscanini — April 24, 2005 @ 6:58 pm

  9. thanks to a fallout I had with him on Clark’s site

    Ah yes, but you had a different name back then! Maybe he will be the only person on the ‘nacle not to make the connection yet. Blake does come around here on occasion so I won’t be too surprised if he chimes in, though he may be holding his peace on this subject because I think the new book covers a lot of his thoughts on it. The book is suppoesed to be out this Spring.

    I’ve seen those quotes before when arguing with fundies.

    I think it is unfortunate that the “fundies” have co-opted that concept entirely now. (Great word by the way, I hope you don’t mind me stealing it for future use.) I’ve been told there are plenty of old-timers in the church that give the idea credence as well. One person told me:

    By the way, while I know this is *far* from authoritative, you may find it interesting to know that when I asked a member of our temple presidency about that portion of the endowment, he told me that he thinks the “unofficial doctrine” (his words) is that those who receive a telestial inheritance are reborn on another earth similar to this one — another telestial existence. So while the idea of MMP may not have official currency, it is definitely still floating around out there; I’ve heard this kind of idea from a number of older members of the Church

    So anyway, I totally agree that this is not “the” doctrine of the church — I’m just trying to work our a model of the eternities that fits the most scriptures and prophetic statements and the HCK model is currently in the lead for me. The thought actually came to me from reading and trying to make sense of the KFD. I didn’t find out until later that these 19th century leaders had leaned toward the concept long before I wondered about it.

    One thing is for sure — we know next to nothing about the details of our pre-mortal and post mortal lives. I think this is an important subject though because the answer to these questions can fundamentally change the lens through which we see our world. I am very concerned about seeing the world through the most correct lens possible.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 24, 2005 @ 7:42 pm

  10. Who cares if each world has its own Savior? What an exercise in futile thinking! Really, who gives a &*^@/crap?!?

    Comment by Dell — April 24, 2005 @ 8:26 pm

  11. Interesting info about old-timers and the mmp belief. I thought it was more marginal than that. And please feel free to use the term fundies. I didn’t invent it, though I can’t remember when or where I first heard it.

    Comment by Arturo Toscanini — April 24, 2005 @ 8:37 pm

  12. Thanks Arturo.

    And thanks to you also Dell! Such useful input. I’ll get back to thinking about important things like sports or how I can make more money.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 24, 2005 @ 8:48 pm

  13. I had read that quote in JS’s poetic rendition and I always took it two ways. 1) That was his understanding of the Godhead pre-Nauvoo. 2) it is speaking of Jesus Christ as an office rather than an individual. I don’t think (2) is what he intended, but it is a better reading in my opinion. There are some BY quotes worth considering as well.

    “There never was any world created and people nor never would be but what would be redeemed by the shedding of the blood of the Saviour of that world. If we are ever exalted and crowned in the presence of God we shall become Saviours of a world which we shall create and people.” 5-12-1867

    “Every world has had an Adam, and an Eve: named so, simply because the first man is always called Adam, and the first woman Eve; and the oldest Son has always had the priviledge of being ordained , appointed and called to be the heir of the family, if he does not rebel against the Father, and he is the Saviour of the family.” 10-8-1854

    “Sin is upon every earth that ever was created. Consequently every earth has its Redeemer, and every earth has its Tempter; and every earth, and the people thereof, in their turn and time, recieve all that we receive, and pass through all the ordeals that we are passing through.” 7-10-1870

    Here is Eliza R. Snow:

    “Moreover, Jesus is one of a grand order of Saviours. Every world has a distinctive Saviour, and every dispensation its Christ.”-Women of Mormondom

    George Q. Cannon said, “Jesus Christ is Jehovah, and that Adam is His Father and God; that under certain unknown conditions the benefits of the Saviour’s atonement extend to our entire solar system.” 6-23-1889 (This is one of the earliest recordings of a belief that JC was Jehovah which lead to a lot of confusion in the Adam-God doctrine.)

    Elder Edward Stevenson of the Seventy said the following:

    “Certainly Eloheim, and Jehovah stands before Adam, or else I am very much mistaken. Then 1st Eloheim, 2nd Jehovah, 3rd Michael-Adam, 4th Jesus-Christ, Our Elder Brother, in the other World from wence our spirits came… Then Who is Jehovah? The only begotten Son of Eloheim on Jehovah’s world.” 2-28-1896

    4 days later after a discussion with Pres. Snow he confirmed:

    “I have more pleasure today than usual with a deep talk with Pres. L Snow on Adam – Jehovah – Eloheim and Jesus and Spirits.” 3-3-1896
    (He doesn’t seem to have been corrected in anything.)

    It seems to make sense that there would be multiple saviors if only by the organization of the priesthood. Whoever heard of somebody presiding over one person? Some people insist that all revelation and the like which comes to earth comes through the savior. If there is only one savior, what in the world is the Father doing then? This would only make sense if there were many saviors relaying revelations to many worlds.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 25, 2005 @ 1:00 pm

  14. It’s true, these are quotes which fundies are quite fond of. We shouldn’t, however, reject them becuase of guilt by association (be it with fundies or Adam-God doctrine). Arturo makes a good point that they only make sense when taken out of context and strung together. I’m not sure I agree with that for all of them, but they should be used with care and taken for what they say individually.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — April 25, 2005 @ 1:09 pm

  15. Nice quotes, Jeff. I assume all of those are found in the Journal of Discourses except where noted?

    As I mentioned earlier, I agree that it is a shame that the fundies are becoming so closely associated with all things 19th century in the church. I just don’t think it is wise to ignore or run from the teachings of that period. Certainly some things were incorrectly taught then but that in itself seems instructive to me about the way God works with us. Plus, we need to figure out how much of what was taught actually was true. I think we end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater too often.

    While I find it pretty obvious that BY mistook the identity of Adam, I don’t think it necessarily follows that everything taught be everyone in that era can be summarily discarded.

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — April 25, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

  16. [...] er he is) lacks. I suspect, though, that in the eternities to come He will have the chance follow in the footsteps of the Father and Son. What this all leads to is the conce [...]

    Pingback by New Cool Thang » Degrees of Divinity — September 14, 2005 @ 11:54 pm

  17. If one would think through work for the dead, he would realize that Jesus could not be the Savior of ALL of God’s worlds. No world can pass away until A SAVIOR initiates work for the dead, for a world cannot be saved without its dead. The fact is inummerable worlds did pass away BEFORE Jesus entered the spirit world and intitiated work for the dead. I call the doctrine that Christ saves all worlds “Credit Card Resurrections”: Let me be exalted now and some time in the distant future a Savior named Jesus Christ will come to a distant planet in the universe and he will pay the debt for my sins. Humbug!

    Comment by Samuel Wattles — December 10, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  18. The main problem with all these discussions on this site are this: We are thinking with a finite mind focussed on a linear time-line and dimension. In the infinite aspect, there is no time-line, it does not exist, the past, present, and future are one. Our finite mortal brains can not fathom this. If we were to loose this finite linear way of thinking, all these discussions would not be relevant. The problem of- is there only one savior for all of God’s worlds?- Yes, if you loose finite linear thinking and gain the thinking and dimension of infinte past, present, future as one. If you want to take it a step further Our God will be our spirit childrens God and our Savior will be our spirit childrens Savior. There is no beginning or end to our God, Christs atonement or us.

    Comment by Trevor — July 5, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  19. I don’t think so Trevor.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 5, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

  20. I have a question, that maybe someone could expound upon for me- If Jesus only saw as his Father had done, doesn’t that mean our ultimate God we worship was a Christ for his mortal existence (including being the first spirit born of his Father)? Wouldn’t this mean that if our God was not a Christ for his Father, Jesus would be higher than our God, for he has experienced more? And if our God was a savior for his Father, how can we become a high God if we have not experienced being a Christ for our God? Would we not just be minor rulers, and not become full high Gods? Now I’m thinking we could probably still have our own spirit children, and dominions/creations, but if we did not go through all as Christ did, how could we be their God, wouldn’t we, our spirit children, and creations be under the realm of our God and our Savior still? I am reminded by the order of priesthood in the Old Testament times: it was given and passed down through the first born male. What about the second or third male son, and their sons, would they still be held under their father’s priesthood, or their first born brother’s priesthood? Maybe this is in relation to how true Godhood works in the eternities. We could in a sense be a part of the “Elohiem” (making decisions and carrying out minor roles), but not the most high God or “El” as the order of our Christ will carry on this role of “El” (most high), then his first born spirit male son will carry the role of “EL” after he completes his father’s (our Christ’s) work as our Christ completed his Father’s work, as his Father completed his Father’s work, etc. I’m sorry if this is hard to figure out, but this is just my thinking. Please give me any insights. Thanks

    Comment by Trevor — August 29, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

  21. I do not believe that each world has a savior of its own because Doctrine and Covenants 76:23-24 states,

    “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.
    That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

    Also the poetic version of section 76 (probably written by WW Phelps, but with input from Joseph) in which the vision is restated,

    “And I give a great voice bearing record from heav’n,
    He’s the Savior and only begotten of God;
    By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
    Even all that career in the heavens so broad.
    Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last.
    Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
    And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons
    By the very same truths and the very same powers.”

    Alma 34:12-14 states,

    “…there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.
    Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away.
    And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.”

    and 2 Nephi 9 states,

    “Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement…”

    The Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite, eternal and the extent of the it is universal. There is only one Savior and that is Jesus Christ and His sacrifice was the ultimate and last sacrifice for all of the worlds created and inhabited by the Father.

    Comment by Cam — December 12, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  22. Also let us consider and remember as we search for these unanswered and disputable questions what Harold B. said,

    “All over the Church you’re being asked this: “What does the Church think about this or that?” Have you ever heard anybody ask that question? “What does the Church think about the civil rights legislation?” “What do they think about the war?” “What do they think about drinking Coca-Cola or Sanka coffee?” Did you ever hear that? “What do they think about the Democratic Party or ticket or the Republican ticket?” Did you ever hear that? “How should we vote in this forthcoming election?” Now, with most all of those questions, if you answer them, you’re going to be in trouble. Most all of them. Now, it’s the smart man that will say, “There’s only one man in this church that speaks for the Church, and I’m not that one man.”
    I think nothing could get you into deep water quicker than to answer people on these things, when they say, “What does the Church think?” and you want to be smart, so you try to answer what the Church’s policy is. Well, you’re not the one to make the policies for the Church. You just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Well now, as teachers of our youth, you’re not supposed to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On that subject you’re expected to be an expert. You’re expected to know your subject. You’re expected to have a testimony. And in that you’ll have great strength. If the President of the Church has not declared the position of the Church, then you shouldn’t go shopping for the answer.” (Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996}, 445. ISBN 1570082340.)

    The First Presidency said on May 4th of 2007,

    “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency…and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
    (LDS Newsroom, “Approaching Mormon Doctrine,” lds.org)

    Comment by Cam — December 12, 2009 @ 7:12 pm

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