Multiple Mortal Probations — Why I Tend To Agree With Heber C. Kimball and Friends

June 23, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 1:21 am   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP

Kaimi went crazy over at Times and Seasons yesterday and now I feel inspired. I have put up several posts over the last few months that deal in generally subtle ways with the concept of multiple mortal probations. When I first began to explore this concept I was mortified to learn that the only people who seemed to talk about it in public were apparently Mormon apostates who were now part of one fundamentalist group or another. But upon further study I discovered that in the 19th century the idea was taught privately and openly by such luminaries as Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, Eliza R. Snow and many others. With heavyweights like them in the corner of multiple mortal probations I figure it should at least be fair game to explore.

I have put up several posts that mention the topic. Here is a list of them:

Models of our Pre-Mortal Existence
Problems with the My Turn on Earth model
Worlds without number and the inhabitants thereof
Who were the inhabitants of all those other worlds?
Progression between kingdoms
Sun, Moon, and Stars
Did each world have a savior of its own?
Playing Brigham’s Advocate

[Update: See all posts related to multiple mortal probations (including those written after this post) here]

The subject that I want to discuss here is not whether these early church leaders actually believed in multiple mortal probations or not – that fact is well established (see this post by Jeffrey Giliam for some references) – but rather if the doctrine holds up to scrutiny or not. Just because the leaders in the 19th century believed the doctrine does not mean it is true. Brigham also believed that Adam is the Father of Jesus Christ and I think he just got that one wrong. So did he and others get this doctrine right or wrong? I think they probably got it right and here are some reasons why.

Jesus was a full God before coming to earth

Julie brought this up over at T&S and it is very important. We believe that Jesus was a full-fledged God before his mortal probation here. Yet we also believe that the probationary time of mortality is required to achieve Godhood. Something has to give.

Some believe that the members of the Godhead have always been Gods. Blake Ostler postulates that when the Father had a mortal probation on a previous world he condescended to do so just like Jesus did. He believes they have never not been Gods. J. Stapley likes a variation on this theory too. J. goes further to say that we are fundamentally and ontologically different than the Father and the Son. We have not always been divine and they have. Therefore we can never truly become like them in that model but I suppose it could be pretty great anyway. (Blake, is your book out yet? J, you probably better defend yourself here!)

Of course the problem is that those theories fly in the face of the famous Lorenzo Snow couplet “As man is now, God once was; as God is now man may be.” Blake may quibble with my assertion but as I understand it even he doesn’t believe that God ever came to earth in the state that we normal mortals are in.


Multiple mortal probations is the only way I can understand the problem of evil in the world. How do we explain a God that lets hundreds of thousands of his children be swept out of their one and only mortal probation by a tsunami? If this is their single mortal probationary state how do we call that a fair test? And even without the disasters, what percentage of the human population ever had a chance to even hear the name Jesus Christ, let alone hear the fullness of the restored gospel in their single chance at getting a body? Yes, we teach about temple work and missionary work in the spirit world, but why the incredible inefficiency? Why did they need a mortal probation at all if one can be perfected in spirit form? Is coming to an earth simply a formality in order to get a body that one will then be stuck with for all eternity afterwards? This was the point on the previous post on progression between kingdoms – the concept of “only one chance” makes no sense.

Moreover, how do we explain the incredible disparity in conditions people are born into? The basic answer is that there was a merit program before this earth. How does God run his merit programs? Well look around you. You’re in it. The course of the Lord is One Eternal Round.

The idea of reincarnation was been taught in ancient Judaism and in Christianity as well (see links). Multiple probations is different than the refuted doctrine of reincarnation in that we believe we only get one probation per planet. The question then is who inhabited all those previous inhabited planets? As we’ve discussed before, I think the only workable answer is that it was us.

Is there a better explanation?

I have heard attempts to explain the eternities but none make any sense to me. Does someone have a better model to explain eternities than the one Heber C. Kimball taught?

As far as I can tell the mmp explanation just make the most sense of our world and the Universe. It helps explain why in this life God is apparently content when he helps “make bad men good and good men better” (a favorite saying of several modern prophets including President McKay and President Hinckley). An eternity of getting better would lead to being just like him right? Maybe that’s why it is so important that we are always repenting. If we don’t improve in this life we might actually be on the eternal regression plan.


  1. My problem is that I pretty much agree with the doctrine being asserted but I disagree with most of the reasons that are given for it.

    For instance I don’t believe that Jesus was a “full blown” God before his mortality. I believe that there are infinite degrees of Godhood and that Jesus was at a higher degree than us, but a lower degree than his Father. Therefore that reason kind of works for me, but it is quite easy for somebody to accept my version of Godhood and say that this was Jesus’ first mortality.

    I do accept the rejection of the “one chance” model, but this probably isn’t very convincing to a non-believer in MMP’s. I don’t buy the “one eternal round” interpretation at all. I don’t think that phrase is meant to convey anything other than God’s trustworthiness, experience and expertise.

    I don’t really buy into any of that “only begotten” reasoning over at T&S.

    I’m not sure that Jesus actually saw his Father perform an atonement in a mortal probation. Although I have always given quite a bit of weight to the “only do what I saw my Father did” reasoning of JS.

    The requirement for marriage reasoning is okay, but I wouldn’t expect anybody to be too persuaded by that.

    I have always given much credit to Jesus’ sinlessness. This, I believe, must be due to previous mortal probations. If such a state of perfection can be acheived w/o a mortal probation then why didn’t God simply wait longer so that lots of us would be sinless or at least more righteous in this life.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 8:38 am

  2. I see the couplet as easily reconcilable to a single probation model. We say that Jesus came to earth to live as a mortal man, like us. So if we can say that Jesus was once a man, yet being obviously different from us in fundamental ways, we can say that we can be like him in the afterlife yet be fundamentally different from him as well.

    If such a state of perfection can be acheived w/o a mortal probation then why didn’t God simply wait longer so that lots of us would be sinless or at least more righteous in this life.

    Hence the ontological divide.

    One of the natural problems I see with a multiple probationary model relates to your theodicy geoff – one of casts. It is a natural conclusions to say that people in africa really are inferior, which is false.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 23, 2005 @ 9:15 am

  3. The reason that persuades me most (and some of these other reasons are corollaries of this) is my view that Mormonism rejects pretty much all forms of absolutism. We won’t be stuck in any one state FOREVER nor can anybody ever reach an absolute in their progression. Time, Space, Intelligence, Morality and Power have no extreme nor end. Thus if somebody goes to the telestial kingdom, they won’t be stuck there for absolutely ever based solely on what happens in this VERY short life. This simply isn’t fair and doesn’t accord with what I view to be Mormon doctrine very well.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 9:16 am

  4. J: We say that Jesus came to earth to live as a mortal man, like us.

    It is a bit of a stretch to say Jesus was a mortal “like us”. But with the competing theories out there there ivevitably will be some stretching I guess.

    An ontological divide seems to be a rather new development in thought. As far as I can tell, the opinion of Widtsoe in Rational Theology seems to have been what nearly all Mormons believed for about the first 150 years of our history:

    God and man are of the same race, differing only in their degrees of advancement. True, to our finite minds, God is infinitely beyond our stage of progress. Nevertheless, man is of the order of Gods, else he cannot know God. (61-62)


    The question is what can we define as “full blown” Godhood? On this ever increasing scale is that definition a matter of perspective? It seems that unless we reject some of the most fundamental teaching ofthe last 100 years on the pre-mortal role of Jesus it would be very hard to call him anything but God even before the atonement. Nevertheless, I agree that th atonement helped him progress to be more like his Father.

    Obviously we agree on the basics of these subjects though

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 9:31 am

  5. J: One of the natural problems I see with a multiple probationary model relates to your theodicy geoff – one of casts. It is a natural conclusions to say that people in africa really are inferior, which is false..

    First how does the idea mmp’s add to this very real problem? And what do you mean when you say inferior? With spirits in different levels of progression we can at least see a just reason for someone to be born in siritually and physically undesirable earthly conditions. It would not be because the the worth of their soul is inferior, but rather because they are at what Widstoe called a “degree of advancement” where such a probation would best allow them to leave the world more Godlike than they entered it. That model preserves the love, mercy, and justice of God. If we leave this life better we will have more opportunity in future progressions. If we leave worse we will have less opportunity next time is my guess.

    If you have nearly equal Spirit children entering the world for their one and only probation then you really have a serious theodicy problem. Why the great opportunities for some to spiritually (and temporally) progress and nearly none for others? It is like a fish for one child and a serpent for the other.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 9:44 am

  6. I agree with that quote, Geoff. Granted I believe that you are correct about popular beliefs over the last 150 years. But unlike Jeffrey, I do think there are some absolutes. I do believe that individuals have limits to their capacity. This isn’t to say that we don’t increase or progress. I am human like Olympic runners, yet I have an ontological divide with them in that I don’t have the capacity to perform at their level – period. This is really a discussion of mechanics.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 23, 2005 @ 9:46 am

  7. RE: fish and serpent. The thing is that we allow for everyone to get the fish in the spirit world.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 23, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  8. Geoff,

    I’ve read through a lot of your previous threads, and I while I’m having a hard time putting a finger on exactly what it is, I feel like something is missing from your model.

    One thing that bothers me is the lack of a coherent concept of Grace and the need for a Savior. If you will read through all of your previous related discussions, you’ll find little reference to actually being Saved by Christ. In the multiple probation model, there seems to be no real need for a Savior. Beyond simply being an exemplar and creator, why would Jesus need to suffer for anyone if one qualifies for the Celestial kingdom by passing through multiple probations until, through her own experience and choices, she becomes a celestial being?

    Secondly, there is a lot of precedence in the church for the idea that in this life our memories of our previous life have been blocked: that we passed through a veil of forgetfulness. We are taught that we had no such veil in the pre-mortal life, and that the veil will be removed as we pass from this life, so that we will remember not only this life, but the pre-mortal life as well. While the purpose for this veil of forgetfulness is not completely clear, it would seem to serve the purpose of testing something about us individually that has nothing to do with accumulated knowledge or previous experience. How does the veil of forgetfulness fit into your model? If every probation is veiled then how are we supposed to learn from our previous experiences? If it is not, then why is this one veiled?

    I think that it is likely that the non-permanence of “Eternal” punishment refers to the suffering in the spirit world prior to resurrection and not to the assignment of a kingdom of glory. You focus on punishment, but it seems to me that the kingdoms of glory are not a punishment, but a reward, regardless of which kingdom you attain. You are rewarded as much as you qualify for–and that reward is permanent.

    I think that you have not adequately dealt to the issues of the permanence of the resurrection.

    Alma 11:44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

    Alma 11:45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

    Alma 7:25 And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.

    Alma 7 especially seems to say that those who attain the celestial glory will never leave it. If we take the celestial state to be permanent, but make lower kingdoms temporary, as you suggest, then I think you have under estimated the “procrastination” problem. If the Celestial kingdom, once attained, is permanent, than no matter how long you spend in your hypothetical multiple probations, and no matter how long you spend in lower kingdoms, the time of your “punishment” will be insignificant compared to the infinity you will spend in Celestial Joy. Given an infinite time frame, any non-infinite section within that time frame will be ultimately insignificant. So no matter how long you procrastinate your repentance, as long as you do eventually repent in some future life, the punishment is practically insignificant in the log run. What motivation is there to live a portion of the celestial law now, when by and by you will do it? Multiple Probations and temporary lower kingdoms would seem to be a restatement of the false doctrine cited in 2 Nephi 28:8:

    And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God–he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

    I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this, I have deadlines at work that take precedence, but those are my gut objections.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — June 23, 2005 @ 10:06 am

  9. J: The thing is that we allow for everyone to get the fish in the spirit world.

    The problem is that the logical conclusion for of that road is that this life is not very important at all. It leads to the idea that this life is just a formality in order to get a body for the vast majority of humankind. That idea does not jibe well with scriptures or teachings of modern prophets…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 10:39 am

  10. JMW,

    There is still plenty of room for Jesus to save us from suffering for our sins after every mortality. Not to mention that he allows for us to be resurrected. The former, in this view, would be far more important than the latter.

    It’s hard to speak meaningfully about the veil since we know pretty much nothing about it and its purpose. For some reason, we teach, it helps us progress somehow when we can’t remember. This fits in just as well in the MMP model. BTW, I think one would be very hard pressed to find a scriptural justification for the belief that we will eventually remember not only everything in this life, but everything from the pre-mortal existence as well.

    I think that it is likely that the non-permanence of “Eternal” punishment refers to the suffering in the spirit world prior to resurrection and not to the assignment of a kingdom of glory.

    I’m not so sure about that. At the time it was given, there was no concept of degrees of glory, it was still either heaven or hell. Thus, the context would suggest that the suffering in hell (meaning not the celestial kingdom) would not be forever. Not to mention that the reasoning involved in the revelation can be applied to pretty much all absolute claims. “It says never again to be separated, but it only says that to work upon the hearts of men” I can see one arguing. Further more, I don’t see why people can’t repent in the telestial kingdom. And if they repent, meaning change their natures for the better, why wouldn’t they be “qualified” for a higher degree of glory?

    Now the BoM theology is rather different from the Nauvoo theology of JS and SLC theology of BY, HCK and ERS. It was because of a lot of the “outdated” revelation found in the BoM that Brigham said that if the BoM were retranslated it would appear very different. He directly applied this to its understanding of the nature of God and I would extend this to most all of the absolutes found therein. Therefore, I feel no particular need to modify my views to suit the views of those who had not received as much light and knowledge as we have. (I mean this in the least arrogant way.)

    I should add that Hyrum Smith was one of the early proponents, not of MMP’s, but of progress from kingdom to kingdom.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 10:56 am

  11. I don’t see the need for MMP. Jesus became divine before the mortal life. However, we know we all lived with God before we came here; _AND_ that we had agency as spirit children. It seems a much simpler solution that Jesus simply made all the right choices as a spirit child and graduated strait into deityhood; whereas the rest of us failed to a greater (rejected the plan) or lesser (accepted the plan and came here for further growth) extent.

    Comment by lyle — June 23, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  12. J. Max Wilson: Excellent points.

    I admit that I find the Heber Model seductive, but it does seem to diminish the role of the Atonement. Perhaps the real issue is that not enough admiration of the POWER of the Atonement is being respected. I know we all are very aware of our failings and imperfections which can lead us to think something ELSE (multiple probations, learning in spirit class how to be perfect, whatever) will be needed to make us perfect. But, I have to assume that the Christ would had passed the cup and His Father given the okay, if the Atonement wasn’t SO POWERFUL as to take imperfect men and make them perfect so that they will become joint-heirs with Christ. Joint-heirs with Christ! One of the most powerful statements in the Bible, and one that is understated and overlooked by both Mormons and non-mormons.

    The free-rides given to children who die before the age of accountability, the huge discrepencies in the circumstances that we find each other born into this world, and the way some are quickly taken from this earth (tsanamis, earthquakes, etc) DOES seem to indicate that this really isn’t much of a test as it is more of a learning experience of what a body is and how to use it. Once you can get away from this being a test, this life becomes a far better example of a class room. The Atonement is real and it is powerful and Jesus is a Savior and he is able to create this class room setting through much sacrifice in order for us to learn and become like Him and the Father. This life is an opportunity to learn not test and fail.

    Joseph Smith, from what I’ve read, indicated that there will be progression between kingdoms. For those who need more learning, they can achieve it and find themselves in the Celestial kingdom. I disagree with the current Mormon Doctrine that there will be no Eternal Marriages after this life. Of what consequence is it to God, if 2 Celestial Resurrected beings want to join together in Marriage? Even the children who get the free ride to the Celestial kingdom should be allowed to find their “soul-mate” later.

    I too have some deadlines here at work, but I’m glad we’re back to some real meat and potatoes stuff.

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 23, 2005 @ 11:09 am

  13. Talk about trivializing. SU suggests that children that die before the age of 8 are getting a “free ride.” To me, that sounds about as charitable as the grasping priests who would require infant baptism and which Mormon eloquently (which I know I lack) smashed to pieces in the BoM.

    Christ made the right choices before this life. Children who die before age 8 apparently made almost all of the right choices. I don’t think that is a free ride at all. They did their work; have some respect.

    Comment by lyle — June 23, 2005 @ 12:06 pm

  14. It would seem that we are either trivializing the atonement or the importance of mortality. My reading of Mormonism suggests that even the importance of the atonement must bow before the importance of agency and experience as experienced here in mortality. I can understand if some disagree with that.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 12:15 pm

  15. JMW,

    Thanks for the thoughts. I will try to respond to some of them.

    Beyond simply being an exemplar and creator, why would Jesus need to suffer for anyone if one qualifies for the Celestial kingdom by passing through multiple probations until, through her own experience and choices, she becomes a celestial being?

    Interesting point. I think our scriptures make it clear that in reality the atonement only pays for the sins of those who repent. “If the will not repent they must suffer even as I…” is what Christ warns in section 19. So what are we saved from? We are saved from having to pay for our own sins if we repent. Christ pays for them only if we repent. There is no separating the personal effort and the atonement as far as I can tell.

    We are taught that we had no such veil in the pre-mortal life, and that the veil will be removed as we pass from this life, so that we will remember not only this life, but the pre-mortal life as well.

    I think Jeffrey was right — I think one would hard-pressed to find any authoritative statements to that affect.

    How does the veil of forgetfulness fit into your model? If every probation is veiled then how are we supposed to learn from our previous experiences?

    Once again I agree with what Jeffrey said. This question is the same whether we have one or multiple mortal probations. (Having said that, I believe we do have a veil every time. I put a lot of weight into this concept of patterism.) But the leaders of the church are very fond of reminding us that we arrive here “trailing clouds of glory” and the scriptures imply that the trajectory we are on naturally carries from one existence to another. (Alma 13, Abraham 3, etc.) So if we could learn from our premortal experience here, then it makes no difference if that premortal experience consisted of other mortal probations or an eternity as a Spirit.

    You are rewarded as much as you qualify for-and that reward is permanent… Alma 7 especially seems to say that those who attain the celestial glory will never leave it.

    I think this idea of permanent is solely a function of the character of an individual. You imply that one that becomes celestial in nature cannot fall from that but our scriptures make it clear that this is not the case. On the contrary they say that if God can “cease to be God”. So in accordance with concept of “opposition in all things” I think our doctrine implies the eternal possibility for progression or regression.

    Let me add that Elder Widtsoe agreed with me on this subject:

    If there is progression there my also be retro-gression; if there is good there also may be evil. Everything has its opposite. (Rational Theology, 79)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 1:09 pm

  16. Come on Speaking Up. I deleted your previous comment. Please find a more tactful way to speak of children who have died. Your wording comes across as crass. The subject is interesting and important but out of respect to those who have lost children I insist you word your comments in a sensitve manner.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 1:17 pm

  17. Sorry Geoff…
    When it comes to super serious stuff like death, I assume more of a British black humour stance when talking about it. Its a defense to keep me from getting so depressed about it. [Monty Python RULES!]

    It would be helpful to have a quick short name or acronym to use to describe children who die before the age of 8. How about “Earlies” for those who died too early?

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 23, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

  18. How about “little children who die” or “little children that pass away”. A little extra typing never hurt whenit comes to the sacred and the sensitive.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  19. Lyle: It seems a much simpler solution that Jesus simply made all the right choices as a spirit child and graduated strait into deityhood; whereas the rest of us failed to a greater (rejected the plan) or lesser (accepted the plan and came here for further growth) extent.

    The problem with this is that there is also the teaching that our spirits are eternal. (I’m tend to suspect that means the parts that make us up are eternal but that is a subject of another post…) So anyway, if we lived FOREVER before coming here how is it that Jesus became a God and we didn’t? The only feasible answer to that is to agree with Stapley and Ostler and assume that the Father and Son are fundamentally different than us. The alternative raises the question Jeffrey already mentioned about why God rushed to get this world launched. Why not wait until later when most of us had become Gods like Jesus too? Then a mortality could be a simply formality. In other words, the model you suggest implies that mortality is not required for Godhood and that is a problem.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 1:43 pm

  20. Geoff: I think you are missing the third solution.

    Yes, we are eternal; but only the part of us that is an ‘intelligence.’ If we as spirit children are eternal…then how did God become our Heavenly Father? The easier solution is that similar to how we moved from spirit world to here, we also had a previous primal stage as intelligences that then became ‘born’ (whether literal or fig.) as spirit children.

    As to why Jesus became God and we all didn’t…the answer is the same; Agency. He made all the correct choices and was obedient. We didn’t. What is hard to accept about that possibility? Why does this require “fundamental differences”? It simply requires one individual who consistently exercised his agency in the correct manner and arrived at the ultimate result. Sure, the odds ar astronomically high and it must have been fairly difficult. But, he is the Savior after all.

    Comment by lyle — June 23, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

  21. This is an awful lot of theologizing without any reference to any revelations whatsoever. I don’t mean this as a rebuke to anybody. Only that saying that some people did some things in the pre-existence which nobody remembers while others didn’t isn’t very persuasive.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  22. Geoff,

    The phrase God “would cease to be God” is only employed in two places in the scriptures, first in Alma 42, where it occurs three times, and later by Moroni in Mormon 9 where it is used once:

    1.Alma “Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.”
    2.Alma “…if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. ”
    3.Alma “…do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.”
    4.Moroni “And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; ”

    Now, I’ll admit that my grammar skills are a bit rusty, but I think that a close reading of the grammar employed by Alma and Moroni in these portions of their sermons is required to understand them. The key grammatical entity is the construction “if so…” or “if not so.” This clause contains the implied verb “were.” So with the implied verb added, they read: if it were so, God would cease to be God.” and “if it were not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.”

    The “If ___ were ____, ____ would ____ ” construction is known in grammar as the past subjunctive mood. One uses the subjunctive to describe an occurrence that she presupposes to be contrary to fact (i. e. “if I weren’t married, I would…:; “if Joseph Smith were still alive, the church would…“).

    In every occurrence of the phrase “…would cease to be God” found in the scriptures, it occurs as part of this past subjunctive mood construction, indicating that the author presupposes it to be contrary to fact and is using it to make a rhetorical point about the nature of mercy and justice, or of miracles, and not the nature of God.

    I think that once we understand the grammar being used, it is pretty clear that no where in the scriptures does it say that God can cease to be God. At the same time there are numerous assertions that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that his decrees and promises are always fulfilled.

    The idea that God is capable of ceasing to be God murders faith–which is based upon the trust we have that God has certain, unchangeable attributes.

    I know you think that takes away God’s agency, but I see it as analogous to our graduation from the first estate to the second estate. You cannot lose the estates you already have, you can only fail to qualify for the estates to come. Every intelligence who received a spirit body (first estate) will be that spirit body for ever more (even Satan), they cannot cease to be a spirit. 1/3 of those in the first estate refused the second estate (physical body), but those who accepted the second estate, regardless of their righteousness or wickedness in this life, will be the physical body for ever more (even Cain). Like wise, once we have achieved the next estate (celestial body, terrestrial body, telestial body) we remain in that estate for ever more. We never lose glory, we only fail to gain additional glory. When you chose to accept the plan and receive a physical body, your future choice to be just a spirit was taken away. You will always have a physical body from now on. You have no agency in that matter now. Choice we make now, cut off choices in the future. I’m not sure how that works with God, but since each intelligence is free within the sphere it has been place I am more comfortable with the idea that having chosen a certain sphere, the choices to cease to be just, cease to be merciful, and cease to be good are outside of sphere in which God acts.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — June 23, 2005 @ 2:51 pm

  23. I agree that that is probably the intended use of that phrase. That is not what I base my belief that God can fall on though. This was one of the doctrines which JS was teaching according to the Nauvoo expositor. We find a doctrine in the KFD which certainly points to it, namely his ring example. If something can be made, it can be unmade. If somebody can become a God, they can unbecome a God as well. Brigham and Heber both elaborated on this doctrine in thier description of the sons of perdition, nammely that they would be completely unmade and reused in some other “eternity.” Besides, if we can believe in eternal progression, doesn’t it follow from free agency, as Geoff noted, that this progression can be both accelerated, decelerated and even reversed?

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

  24. This was one of the doctrines which JS was teaching according to the Nauvoo expositor.

    I’m sure that it will come as no surprise to you, Jeffrey, that I trust what the Nauvoo Expositor claims Joseph Smith was teaching about as much as I trust modern apostate publications that claim to explain what the church believes and teaches.

    I have read the King Follet Discourse many times, and I do not think that his ring analogy must be interpreted to mean that God can cease to be God, though I can see how you might come away with that view. It seems to me that his point was that our spirits, like God’s, have always existed: that they were not made and therefore cannot be unmade. I’m not sure that his specific analogy about the co-eternal nature of our spirits can be applied as extensively as you do.

    For instance, the scriptures and the doctrine from all ancient and modern prophets are quite clear about the fact that the resurrection means the permanent union of our spirit with a glorified body; that they can never be separated again. If we apply your reading of the King Follet Discourse to resurrection, than any and all unions of spirit and body that are made can be unmade–which flatly contradicts what the scriptures and the modern prophets have taught about the resurrection.

    Further light an knowledge may help us understand the knowledge that we had in a different light than we have seen it before, but it does not flat out contradict the previous truths that we have already received. That is why it is further light and knowledge.

    Your reading of the King Follet Discourse is irreconcilable with the established doctrine of the resurrection. And if the union of body and spirit can be permanent, so that it cannot be undone, then I believe that God too can exist in a way that he cannot cease to be God.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — June 23, 2005 @ 4:36 pm

  25. For starters I wouldn’t be so willing to discount the Nauvoo Expositor so willingly. Every other accusation they made about Smith’s doctrine was true, why would this be the exception?

    I think that a lot can be said for the rest of your comment in sec. 19 where the Lord basically says “it says eternal, but it doesn’t really mean that.” This principal can be used in this matter with some benefit. The spirit and body won’t be separated again through out all eternity, but what about the next eternity? For JS did speak of eternities in the plural.

    Additionally, I believe that further light and knowledge CAN flat out contradict past light and knowledge. This is the whole point of 1) the fallibility of the scriptures, and 2) the idea that revelation is given according to the abilities of man, both physical and cultural. That’s how Brigham justified calling the popular reading of genesis “baby stories” saying that it would be “translated” differently today. There isn’t a single revelation that’s perfect in its entirety, said Brigham on a number of occasions.

    Thus we get the BoM saying that people will suffer forever and ever and that there is no more than one God. This doesn’t really bother me all that much, just so long as we don’t try to reconcile the two by giving trying to interpret the old in light of the new by twisting the intended meaning and keeping training wheels longer than we need or want.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

  26. …doesn’t it follow from free agency, as Geoff noted, that this progression can be both accelerated, decelerated and even reversed?

    Re-read the last paragraph of my comment #22. Section 93 we read:

    30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

    33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

    Intelligence is independent to act for itself in the sphere in which God has placed it; that is, outside of that sphere, it is not free to act. There are certain things that are outside of our sphere of choice. I have no problem with the idea that God’s agency is also circumscribed by the sphere in which his God placed him, and that the choice to be bad, to cease to be God, is not within his sphere of agency.

    Within out current sphere, our progression can be accelerated, decelerated, and reversed, as you say, but our change from one estate (sphere of agency) to another estate, is irreversible.

    As section 93 says in verse 33, cited above, it is only when spirit and element are inseparably connected connected that a fullness of joy is possible. If there is not such a thing as inseparable, as your doctrine would insist, then there is no such thing as a fullness of joy either. As I said before, the doctrine of the resurrection is irreconcilable with your view.

    Comment by J. Max Wilson — June 23, 2005 @ 5:02 pm

  27. This would seem that God’s sphere of agency is smaller than ours. Personally, I am very nervous about people using phrases like “one eternal round” and “within its sphere” to justify positions. I have no clue what these phrases mean and I doubt most other people do either.

    The “inseperably” part is a good proof text for your position though.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 5:04 pm

  28. What would be a much more convincing proof text to use against those who believe in MMP’s would be a statement by a prophet which actually claims to be a revelation in and of itself (in other words doesn’t simply rely on claiming revelation given in the past) which corrects JS’s Nauvoo ideas by giving more light and knowledge. That would be great. Otherwise, relying on sec. 93 and the like seems like a step backwards to me, relying on the lesser light and knowledge to disprove the greater.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 23, 2005 @ 5:09 pm

  29. Good thoughts and discussion.


    First let me say that I certainly don’t begrudge anyone defending what I’ve dubbed the “My Turn on Earth” model of the eternities. It certainly represents a more mainstream 21st Century Mormon view than this rather 19th century view I am partial to. I’ll try to respond to some of your comments below.

    The phrase God “would cease to be God”

    You may be right that the term is not a perfect proof text that God can cease to be God. But then again it is still a pretty darn good one. You have to do a lot of limbo-ing to try to prove that it means something other than that under certain possible circumstances “God would cease to be God”. But then again, I have to limbo around your proof texts too (as you’ll see later).

    The idea that God is capable of ceasing to be God murders faith-which is based upon the trust we have that God has certain, unchangeable attributes.

    I don’t come to that conclusion but I can see how one might. Not to open another can of worms here but the term God is anything but clear when it comes to specifying individuals. When we say God we could mean the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, or all three as a unified Godhead. But wait it doesn’t stop there! If our Father was a Savior on a previous world as Joseph seemed to teach then He had a Father with whom he is unified too? And perhaps that Father is unified with another Father, etc. So if three unified can be called the single term “God” then why can’t the all together as a unified Godhead also be called “God”? Therefore the idea that one member of this Godhead theoretically could, because of the retention of agency, fall need not “murder faith”.

    Blake makes pretty strong arguments that there is a single Supreme monarch and I buy that idea. Where we differ is that Blake believes our specific Father (and the Father of Jesus Christ) is that supreme Monarch. I suspect that the Supreme Monarch is very likely some number of generations ahead of our Father. (Whooowheee! Now the speculating has really begun.)

    I know you think that takes away God’s agency, but I see it as analogous to our graduation from the first estate to the second estate. You cannot lose the estates you already have, you can only fail to qualify for the estates to come.

    I personally think the terms First Estate and Second Estate are generic for “Life before this one” and “This Life”. A third estate would simply mean “Next Life/existence”. Therefore the arguments you make based on that are not very convincing to me. I will cerainly that the one thing neither we nor God can change is the past. However I think there is never a time 1) without time — I don’t go for this atemporal idea that floats around, or 2) when intelligences will not have agency.

    the permanent union of our spirit with a glorified body

    This is of course the strongest proof text against the concept of multiple mortal probations. It requires some limbo-ing to get around. Jeffrey brought up the best responses already though — Section 19. “Eternal” can be a description of quality rather than length. Something has to give and I choose to let the idea that God can separate bodies from resurrected bodies if all involved will it to be so.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

  30. Jeffrey: Personally, I am very nervous about people using phrases like “one eternal round” and “within its sphere” to justify positions.

    Then you are going to be very nervous around here because I use “One Eternal Round” all the time. I read it generally to refer to God’s utilization of patternism in most everything in the universe.

    (By patternism I mean that the patterns we see are repeated over and over throughout the universe and throughout time. I picked up the term from Nibley.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 6:47 pm

  31. Lyle: If we as spirit children are eternal…then how did God become our Heavenly Father?

    Ahhh, now that is a good question. Can you find any scriptures to answer this one becasue I haven’t been able to…

    Comment by Geoff J — June 23, 2005 @ 6:49 pm

  32. I know that you use the term a lot Geoff, but your use doesn’t really bother me too much since you don’t use it in order to try to prove anything. I too suspect that the term means that God use patterns and can be trusted and so forth, but beyond that I don’t think that it can be used to prove anything. Nibley did like to use it, it being the name of his Magnum Opus which will come out soon, but other than it sounding really cool, I don’t think it makes a very good proof text at all.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 24, 2005 @ 9:11 am

  33. Therefore the idea that one member of this Godhead theoretically could, because of the retention of agency, fall need not “murder faith”. – Geoff

    I’ve always thought that all members of the Godhead do what they do because there is no other better way. They have the best practice and use it. To not use the best way would not be intelligent. So, while God may have the ability to use his agency in a bad way, He would never do so, because that would be irrational. Since I believe they’ve all figured out the best way to do everything, their work and glory to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of man helps keeps things from getting boring. I.E. it gives them something to do thats worthwhile.

    By the way: Well some one please give a good definition of eternities in the plural sense?

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 24, 2005 @ 10:07 am

  34. Jeff: I’m looking forward to reading that last book of his. I already posted on one of his more recent papers that I think is subtly supportive of this HCK/MMP model. And just to clarify — I picked up the term “patternism” from Nibley after years of being intrigued with the rather cryptic scriptural term “one eternal round”. I agree with you that since the saying is so cryptic it makes for a squirrelly proof text.

    SU: I agree with you. Theoretical potential does not mean anything ever will happen, only that there is a chance (no matter how infinitesimally small) that it could happen.

    I doubt anyone could give you a good definition of plural “eternities”. Joseph used the term in that sense and it just leaves room for speculation as to what that means. Perhaps it means multiple universes or something. (Clark has discussed the scientific theories of multi-verses and bubble universes at his blog in the past… )

    Comment by Geoff J — June 24, 2005 @ 10:16 am

  35. I believe that it was George Q. Cannon that ripped off an old philosopher by saying that an eternity is as long as it takes for a seagull to scratch its bill on Mount Tipanogas (sp?) once a year every year until it is worn down to nothing. That, was his definition of one eternity. I imagine that this probably refers to each “creation” in that it extends from a big bang to a heat death. That, of course, is totally speculation on my part.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 24, 2005 @ 10:29 am

  36. Geoff: no, nothing in the canon. haven’t done the research into prophetic statements to found out otherwise. I’ll try to put up a syllogism based on existing statements in canon that I think lead to this conclusion though.

    Comment by lyle — June 24, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  37. Just as an announcement, there will be a session in the upcoming Sunstone symposium on MMP’s and I just put up a rather speculative post on MMP’s and baptism.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 24, 2005 @ 4:08 pm

  38. Geoff,
    I know from all of your previous posting that your real problem with the one probation model is that you feel it is not just. I want to point out here that justice is not the issue. Jsutice will save none of us. If god were only just, we would all be cast out of his presence. HTat’s why it’s called a probation. Adam ate of the fruit, and would have dies inhis sins or, if he ate of the tree of life, lived forever in his sins. Instead, God guarded the tree of life and lengthened Adams days so that he would have time to repent. It seems to me you are asking why can’t God be perfectly merciful.
    I agree with those who have pointed out here that God works in the best way he possibly can within the perameters of his reality. Thta is, spirit and body inseparably connected recieve a fullness of Joy, and it is that that he wishes to give us. Ressurection is a very permanent thing.
    Mosiah 3:23-26 read:
    23 And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me.
    24 And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his aworks, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
    25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and cendless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls.
    26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.
    It seems there is a limit to the mercy that God can extend. There is a point at which people will be judged according to their works–we all have works in this life, whether we have the gospel in our lives or not. We all have the light of christ. In the end, however, even if we choose good, as we will all sin, the only thing that can save any of us, whether in the church or out, is the atonement and the saving ordinances. And we must receive those while mercy can still have claim on us. Otherwise, why are we so very concerned about the work for the dead?

    Comment by Steve H — June 24, 2005 @ 11:09 pm

  39. I don’t think that it only has to do with justice and mercy. I think the main problem is that there is simply no adequate substitute for actual experience. That was the whole point of our coming here. People can’t magically be made as “god-like” as others just because God wants it that way. It is a very difficult and time consuming process, a process which this life was intended to facilitate.

    It’s not that I’m claiming “it’s unfair for God to make this person as glorious as this other person.” I’m claiming that God isn’t the only one involved and that its impossible for Him to supply such people with the necessary experience without them actually experiencing themselves.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 25, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  40. Steve: your real problem with the one probation model is that you feel it is not just.

    It is true that one of the arguments I have made (especially in the progression between kingdoms post) is that external barriers to progress=damnation regardless of kingdom. Injustice is probably my primary argument against the concept of no progression between kingdoms. But it is not my main concern with the general one-probation model.

    I think the problems with the one probation model are manifold. Here are a couple of them that the comment by Jeffrey reminded me of.

    A. It cheapens Godhood.

    If there is really only one probation then how is anyone supposed to actually become like God? Either it is a much cheaper thing than we think (which is false) or there is a great deal of continued progress after this life. Well how are we to make that continued progress after this life? The idea that we will sit around in the Celestial kingdom with little or no opposition and somehow make the transition from good human to full-fledged God is ludicrous to me. Progress requires work and resistance. I believe it is an eternal principle. No one gets stronger without resistance. How does God provide our training and resistance? We only know for certain of one method and we’re in it. I believe we will be champing at the bit to have another go at it (even for those who are Celestial in nature) and have the chance at spiritual progress provides us. Until we are just like the Father we will want to have chances to be challenged and tested — and mortality appears to be the preferred method to do both. (BTW — I speculate that even those who qualify to be called Celestial continue the probations until they are just like the Father. I suspect the “noble and great ones” Abraham saw were those who were celestial already prior to this world. They are the ones God makes his spiritual leaders here.)

    B. The one-probation model severely underestimates the concept of forever.

    On the LDS-PHIL email list there was recently an interesting discussion about eternity. One guy has as the bane of his existence this ability to ponder what “forever” means. It terrifies him. He is deathly afraid to let the thought enter his mind. Imagine that analogy about bird sharpening its beak to wear down a mighty mountain that Jeffrey quoted from Elder Cannon to just begin to understand the sheer terror of the idea forever. That we will never, never, never, never, NEVER, NEVER! cease to go on. It has terrified thinkers and philosophers throughout the ages. The idea that there is somehow only one chance to spiritually progress and then one is disallowed by that God from progressing EVER AGAIN is an assault on the love, mercy, and justice of God in my mind. It is also an assault on the idea that we really are the same species as God.

    The one explanation I’ve seen to get around this problem is that this life has time, but that before and after we live in an atemporal state. I just don’t buy that idea.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2005 @ 11:03 am

  41. Goeff,
    My point is that I see little scriptural support for this idea: none in your post and some interesting, though speculative, interpretation in Jeffrey’s post that you reference. And yet, I find many places that tell me that there is apoint at which mercy can have no further claim on me. Spcifically, “forever” is the word used. I just don’t see how I can look past that.

    Comment by Steve H — June 25, 2005 @ 4:21 pm

  42. Steve,

    This particular post was largely a notebook post for link to many of the others I have already put up related to this subject. Each of them cite scriptural support for this concept. In aggregate I think there is plenty of support in scriptures for the idea. I don’t blame you or anyone else for not seeing what I see regarding this subject, though. It just appears that we are reading the same scriptures and coming to different conclusions about what they are telling us. That is half of the fun of our probation here right?

    The good news is that we are in complete agreement that the task at hand is to increase our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and constantly be repenting in order to become like him while we are in this probation. (One of my favorite teaching concepts descibes this great process. I described it in my 5 simple steps to exaltation post.) We can’t go wrong on that path even if we have different ideas of what the bigger picture actually looks like.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 25, 2005 @ 5:13 pm

  43. I think there’s going to be a lot of people in the celestial kingdom. I bristle when somebody in Sunday School says “it won’t be crowded,” like those of us in the room will be there, but not those other sinners out there.

    But I think, okay, start with my dad. He was an abusive alcoholic, seriously flawed in many ways, probably abused himself. Because of what he was like, I am screwed up. So after he died, I had his temple work done. If he repented, and I think he did, then all his sins are washed white as snow, like they never happened. In that case, the effect of his sins, which happened in my life and character, are as if they never happened, and so on, and so on, and so on. ETC, ETC, ETC.

    So, if you start with the beginning of man, assume that the majority of God’s children will recognize Him and the truth, repent, and have their temple work done, it goes down the line, and we are going to be a crowded crew in the Celestial Kingdom.

    And it says somewhere in the scriptures that if the parent stays faithful, their faithfulness will bring their children along. I don’t have the express reference, but you scriptorians out there know what I’m talking about.

    I like comment #3. Make room, guys, your drunken slut of a neighbor might be living next door to you in heaven.

    Comment by annegb — June 26, 2005 @ 8:24 am

  44. While much if this is discussion is naval gazing , I do have to comment on “The free-rides given to children who die before the age of accountability”.

    Since it’s only by grace anyone has a prayer of exaltation, all who enter the celestial kingdom get a “free ride”.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — June 27, 2005 @ 4:57 am

  45. I’d just like to respond to some of the posts lately…

    Adam ate of the fruit, and would have dies in his sins or, if he ate of the tree of life, lived forever in his sins.
    Steve H

    The idea that if Adam had ate the fruit of the tree of life and lived forever in his sins is one that doesn’t quite make sense logically ceteris paribus. Before the fall, Adam and Eve are allowed to eat of that fruit all the time and I have to assume this is what they did. If eating the fruit one time allowed you to live forever, then there would be no fall, at least for death. My current hypothesis is that the Tree of Life was a “fountain of youth”. By eating the fruit, you are able to live in youth for an amount of time before another round of living fruit is necessary. By perpetually eating the fruit one could live in youth perpetually. In my hypothesis the fruit of the tree of life makes one sterile (its birth control), hence the reason Eve did not conceive until she ceased to partake from the living fruit. This would solve the riddle of how Adam being a man didn’t WANT Eve (I’m sure Steve could educate us more on that… : ) )

    The possible reasons it was dangerous for Adam and Eve to partake of the living fruit after the fall are:
    1) The female reproductive system is fragile. There’s a possibility that after her body was cursed by God after He discovered their disobedience, she could not eat of the living fruit without doing serious damage to her reproductive system. In that case, Eve could not bare children and they really would had died in their sins with no one to save them in the future.

    2) Adam/Eve could had ate the fruit before being kicked out, been kicked out, and then the seeds of the fruit could had passed through them through digestion and they could had unwillingly planted more of these. This could create wars as those who become keeper of the trees destory all others and the sterility of the tree would again stop any future births and hence a saviour from coming.

    I’m sure there are others.

    The most interesting thing about this is that God does not destroy the Tree of Live, he puts an angel to guard the way to the tree. Therefore, there’s a possibility (if Noah’s flood didnt’ kill it), that somewhere in Missouri where Joseph said Adam was at, there’s an angel with an attitude guarding a tree that contains living fruit. To really go out on a limb, perhaps during the Millineum when there is only twinkling death, this tree is grown, cultivated and wildly grown to be used to keep everyone alive until the “age of a tree”. Interesting isn’t it, how the age of a tree is used to describe how long people live in the Millineum?

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 27, 2005 @ 6:49 am

  46. I think there’s going to be a lot of people in the celestial kingdom. I bristle when somebody in Sunday School says “it won’t be crowded,” like those of us in the room will be there, but not those other sinners out there.

    I think I’ll comment on a quote with a quote:

    Matthew 7:14(KJV)
    Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    Hmmmm… “FEW there be that find it”. The Celestial kingdom doesn’t seemed so packed to me.

    Since it’s only by grace anyone has a prayer of exaltation, all who enter the celestial kingdom get a “free ride”.
    Steve FSF

    True we all get a pass of one sort or another, but those who get to enter the Celestial kingdom just because they were born and took a few breaths before they died get a bigger free ride than most. Also consider:

    Phillippians 2:12 (KJV)
    Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

    Those Earlies (or children who die before the age of accountability) don’t have to work out their salvation with fear and trembling unlike us who made it pass the age of 8. Our reward for living a little longer is that we get the bonus of working our our salvation with fear and trembling. Old Testament Job was wrong, instead of cursing the day he was born, he should had cursed the day he turned 8 years old.

    I, don’t buy in to the Earlies getting a Free Ride UNLESS one of the 2 things I’ve heard that makes the most sense to me so far in line with that doctrine, is that either this life is not a test and we all get a free ride of one sort or another, OR there really is Multiple Mortal Probations. Of course there are problems with those 2 ideas as well.

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 27, 2005 @ 7:13 am

  47. Steve FSF,

    True, everybody will be saved by grace, meaning rescued from spirit prison and suffering and will be resurrected, but exaltation will depend strictly on works (though I think our natures will be far more important than our works). Thus, getting to the Celestial kingdom will involve much more than grace.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 27, 2005 @ 8:36 am

  48. Regarding Steve FSF’s “Saved by Grace” comment: It is true that we are saved by grace, after all we can do. The question of this post is how long are we allowed to do all we can do. I believe we are continually aided and “saved” by grace as we work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling throughout the eternities. I think it is a false notion to assume the Celstial kingdom is a place rather than a state of being. Grace doesn’t change our nature, repentance does. Grace enables us to continue to repent if we choose to, though. So without that grace we would be doomed.

    This idea applies to annegb’s comment too.

    Re #45: Forcing a literal tree of life into the story brings up all sorts of bizarre solutions like the ones you described, Speaking Up. How about just assuming the tree is figurative like most people do and like the tree of life in Lehi’s dream? If you must include a literal tree then why not assume it was taken from the earth later?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 27, 2005 @ 9:37 am

  49. Re #45: Forcing a literal tree of life into the story brings up all sorts of bizarre solutions like the ones you described, Speaking Up. How about just assuming the tree is figurative like most people do and like the tree of life in Lehi’s dream? – Geoff J

    Well if I got to assume the tree is figurative then I’m going to have to assume the whole story is figurative. And its more fun having talking snakes, Angels with swords, and a Tree of Life with the magical fruit. : ) Next thing you’re going to tell me is that the whole Garden story in the Temple is figurative as well and that the whole temple movie is figurative top to bottom! : )

    By the way, Geoff, I think MOST people (I’m including the Baptists, Catholics, etc.) actually do believe it literally. You probably mean, most Bible scholars.

    However, it is fun to take a story for those who believe it literally, and take it to its logical conclusion or possible conclusions. I constantly find myself amazed as to where that leads.

    Comment by Speaking Up — June 27, 2005 @ 9:57 am

  50. Ok, how about this on “The free-rides given to children who die before the age of accountability”: What about their loyalty during the war in heaven? Some free ride that was.

    With some of the comments here, it’s obvious many LDS deserve some of the bashing we get from Evangelicals. Sorry guys, your works don’t save, Jesus does. Works are how we serve Jesus; they are pathetically puny compared to the gift of the atonement, which cannot be earned.

    Comment by Steve (FSF) — June 27, 2005 @ 10:32 am

  51. Steve FSF, do you see any difference between salvation and exaltation? If so what is it? Now my attitude toward exaltation should not be confused with my views concerning salvation.

    “Sorry guys, your works don’t save, Jesus does.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more. But salvation isn’t all there is to it in the Mormon understanding. How “saved” to we want to be? As soon as we start mentioning degrees of glory, surely these degrees must be in proportion to something we do, right?

    Now Evangelicals will intentionally try to criticize my views of exaltation as if it were the same as salvation. In this they are missing the point. If we wanted to talk about the after life as far as they understand it (this is basically our views of spirit prison and paradise) then there will be large amounts of agreement. But if we are to include all the additional information which we teach about the after life, then we simply aren’t going to understand one another at all.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 27, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  52. JMW,

    Here is a great quote from Joseph which I think Geoff will like quite a bit:

    “He said very little of rewards and punishments; but one conclusion, from what he did say, was irresistible–he contended throughout, that everything which had a beginning must have an ending ; and consequently if the punishment of man commenced in the next world, it must, according to his logic and belief have an end.”

    See Words of JS, 5 Feb. 1840

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — June 27, 2005 @ 4:31 pm

  53. Some reasons why I think Multiple Mortal Probations (MMP’s) are not necessary and why short MP’s are OK:

    1) We learn the lessons of life both by experiencing things directly – acting towards others and being acted upon – and by observing and learning about the lives of others. The primary purposes of life are to gain faith, to learn, and to love (serve) others.

    2) After all is said and done, many billions of spirits will have lived on this earth.

    3) In the hereafter, we will have not just one, but many opportunities to review our past earth life in detail. As we continue to progress, the experiences of our life will take on greater meaning – just as repeated readings of the standard works continue to give us new insights as we become more enlightened.

    4) In the hereafter, we will also have opportunities to study the lives of billions of others and vicariously gain from the lessons they learned. Some of those persons we will have direct conversations with.

    In light of all of the above, why would an individual need more than one mortal probation, and wouldn’t a person who died as an infant still have significant opportunity for learning in the spirit world ?

    Comment by brent — June 29, 2005 @ 9:05 pm

  54. Brent: In the hereafter, we will have not just one, but many opportunities to review our past earth life in detail.

    You sound so certain about that, Brent. Where did you learn that factoid?

    In the hereafter, we will also have opportunities to study the lives of billions of others and vicariously gain from the lessons they learned. Some of those persons we will have direct conversations with.

    Wow! That is also news to me. How did you learn all of this? It sounds like it came from someone who had one foot on each side of the veil or something. By the way, I believe that was how Truman Madsen described Heber C. Kimball as well… ;-)

    Regarding the MMP thing in general — I am mostly confident that we will have ongoing opportunities to progress throughout eternity. I only lean toward the MMP concept because former prophets and apostles taught it (like Heber C. Kimball) and it makes sense to me. If it is incorrect that is fine too. I am just waiting to hear a better model to explain how we continue to progress (or regress) throughout eternity if it is not in future and past probations similar to the one we are in now. I have not heard one yet… When I do I’ll happily change my mind and lean toward it instead.

    (PS — I thought this would be a better thread for your comment so I moved it.)

    Comment by Geoff J — June 29, 2005 @ 9:18 pm

  55. Geoff:

    I get bits and pieces from various near-death experiences (NDE’s). Some things are specifically mentioned and other things can be deduced from things specifically mentioned.

    In “Return from Tomorrow”, George Ritchie is shown a library containing “the important books of the universe”..

    In “The Birth Called Death”, Kathie Jordan is shown a “Hall of Records” which includes areas set apart specifically for Life Review. I deduce that an individual would be allowed to access that information as often as needed for his eternal progression.

    In “I Stand All Amazed”, Elane Durham is taken to a location where she is able to view past events in the earth’s history. The most interesting thing about her experience is that she was shown the Jaredites’ ships crossing to the Americas, and this before she knew anything about the Book of Mormon.

    NDE’s teach us that spirits in the hereafter have great freedom to move about in seeking “further light and knowledge” – if that is the desire of their heart. I have great hopes that we will be able to have personal encounters with many of the great and wise spirits that have passed through this mortal existence.

    Comment by Brent — June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 am

  56. Interesting. That’s twice in 24 hours that the subject of NDE’s has been brought up as evidence. I know next to nothing about NDE’s but I have always been a little wary of them as a map to the next life. I’ll pay closer attention to the subject going forward so I can formulate a more informed opinion on the subject.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 30, 2005 @ 10:25 am

  57. Jeffrey asked at another post: BTW, Geoff, how does the spirit birth work in your MMP model? I know that you don’t buy into a literal pregnancy with delivery sort of birth, but I’m still not sure what you do believe.

    I think the simple answer is I suspect that God the Father is literally our father in heaven by virtue of playing the role of our Adam in a previous world. When I say “playing the role” I mean that fairly literally. In what I think is one of my most interesting posts so far (which was also my most ignored post so far) I link to a fascinating article by brother Nibley where he says the temple teaches us that this world and every inhabitted world are quite literally plays with basically the same plot. The thing that changes is the players and the performances/renditions. Casey and I have been discussing the subject there today.

    So I don’t think there is a spirit birth in the sense of embodied Celestial parents procreating and bearing unembodied spirits. The whole concept is nonsensical to me (what ever happened to bearing children after out own kind?) I know that is a popular assumption now but I see no support for it.

    If you want to move back beyond that I’m still too chicken to go into my suspicions about that at a public blog…

    Comment by Geoff J — July 1, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  58. Okay, but what do you believe about the creations of our spirits? Are they self-existent? Are all of us the literal offspring of God when he was Adam or just descendants? What about those you have been progressing VERY slowly and were actually born before God was Adam? Are we the spirit children of every Adam of every earth which we have been born on? I would be very interested to hear your response to these questions.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 1, 2005 @ 3:33 pm

  59. There is the question begged of those who retrogress in this life, do they simply no longer move on to the next probation? What about those who went with Satan at the grand council when they go to outer darkness. Now that they have abandoned their positions in the Play who will fill in for them if there is no further spiritual procreation.
    With the concept that God has created us as spirit children and placed us here with a pre planned story line. It must allow for a great deal of improvisation. I invision it much like the filmakers who made the film “A Mighty Wind” and “This is Spinal Tap” they came up with the concept, the characters, the possible scenes and then said action.

    Comment by Casey Blau — July 1, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

  60. a random john: How often are we resurrected and why?

    I don’t know, but I suspect that it is as many times as we choose throughout eternity. Heber C. Kimball (and many ancients) compared each probation/life to a day starting at sunrise and ending at sunset. (See the HCK quote here.)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 3, 2005 @ 6:26 pm

  61. Jeffrey,

    I can only give you my current best guesses on any of these questions — all of which are subject to change.

    what do you believe about the creations of our spirits? Are they self-existent?

    I think Intelligence is eternal and self existent and the intelligence that make up me right now fits that definition. However, with any luck I will gain a lot more intelligence before I leave this mortality so the “me” I am today will only be a memory and the new me will be a different and better one. I sort of see the whole process as a sort of snowball of light and truth situation. We are either getting more light and truth or getting less. What constitutes “me” is an ever-changing thing.

    I see that process at work in my life even in my short span here.

    Are all of us the literal offspring of God when he was Adam or just descendants?

    Just descendants

    What about those you have been progressing VERY slowly and were actually born before God was Adam?

    Based on my last answer, I don’t think this matters.

    Are we the spirit children of every Adam of every earth which we have been born on?


    Comment by Geoff J — July 3, 2005 @ 6:34 pm

  62. Casey,

    Good points about those who are out of the game/rotation due to choosing Satan. I haven’t considered that part so don’t have any useful thoughts to add on that subject.

    It must allow for a great deal of improvisation. I invision it much like the filmakers who made the film “A Mighty Wind” and “This is Spinal Tap” they came up with the concept, the characters, the possible scenes and then said action.

    I completely agree. I think this idea is loosely supported by the the great interest in variety that God seems to have.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 3, 2005 @ 6:39 pm

  63. Geoff, I studied every book on near death experiences I could find and still do, I wanted to know, at first, what my son might be experiencing. I’ve contacted some of these people, they are not nutso acting. They sound quite ordinary. Sometimes I think they add things in predicting the future, but who knows?

    I got into psychics, as well, but never found one that I believed contacted my son, although I had a really chilling experience with a psychic in the park last summer. She was from California, and I just sat down at her booth. She said, “you know, something strange is going on here, I don’t talk to the dead, but I really feel that someone named David on the other side is trying to tell you that he and your boys are happy and you are being too hard on yourself.” David is the name of my first husband and the father of my two deceased sons, he is also deceased. Well, that was different.

    Comment by annegb — July 4, 2005 @ 8:14 am

  64. So the idea is that you are ressurected, hang out for a while, and then decide to give up your ressurection for more progress? What about being sealed? Are you supposed to marry the same person in this next life? Or do you just go through eternity collecting spouses? How does this work for women?

    Comment by a random john — July 4, 2005 @ 7:36 pm

  65. annegb — I can see why that experience would be a bit freaky for you. There are probably lessons to be learned from it, but I’m not sure they are lessons about the realities of our next life…

    a random john — My answer is: I don’t know. I certainly don’t think there are different rules for men and women, though. One thing to consider is that the sealing promises in the temple are only that –conditional promises. They so not go into effect unless we completely keep our part of the covenants we make…

    But I have an article pending from a scholar/friend that will add some interesting light to this general subject of what becomes of those who do keep their covenants and indeed receive the promised marital sealing. That one ought to stir up a lot of interest… (end teaser)

    Comment by Geoff J — July 4, 2005 @ 7:46 pm

  66. We are either getting more light and truth or getting less.

    This reminds me of a problem which I encounter with the MMP model. If the point of this life is to gain light and knowledge, and if there are more than one lives to do this in, what is the point of drawing a veil of forgetfulness? Isn’t this counter productive?

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — July 5, 2005 @ 1:52 am

  67. It really seems to me that it makes more sense if this life is our one and only shot, and the limitations of the veil and a mortal body make it a better training ground than we realize. Sort of like walking around with weights strapped to you all the time, only to have them removed at some point and find that you are capable of more than you thought.

    I do agree that some statements involving Jesus and the Father don’t make sense under this simpler model, but the more complicated models seem to create even more complications.

    In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a long, long time to reach exaltation under either model.

    Comment by a random John — July 5, 2005 @ 7:24 am

  68. Jeff,

    I think the issues you have with the veil are independent of the subject of MMPs. In any LDS model of pre-mortal life there was growth and a merit program before this earth — that is how we end up with noble and great ones there. Yet all of us pass throught the veil before this life. I suspect the veil causes us to lose our conscious memories of the past but not unconscious memories and not fundametal character traits. Thus we are born here with personalities and other traits in place. I have been plaaning to publish a post related to this concept… maybe I’ll do that next.

    Comment by Geoff J — July 5, 2005 @ 10:56 am

  69. I am brand-new to the “Bloggernacle” and have enjoyed this fascinating discussion. I don’t know if it’s poor etiquette to comment so long after the last comment or not (6 weeks!), but here goes. In reply to #45 (Speaking Up):

    The possible reasons it was dangerous for Adam and Eve to partake of the living fruit after the fall are:
    1) The female reproductive system is fragile. There’s a possibility that after her body was cursed by God after He discovered their disobedience, she could not eat of the living fruit without doing serious damage to her reproductive system. In that case, Eve could not bare children and they really would had died in their sins with no one to save them in the future.

    First, the female reproductive system is not fragile at all. It is robust, divinely designed, and magnificent in form and function (as is the male reproductive system). It doesn’t always work perfectly, but that is generally because of life-long negative environmental influences. In the pristine environment of the newly-fallen Earth, Eve’s reproductive system was likely the most healthy, most perfectly-functioning system of any woman, ever. If eating the living fruit would have damaged her reproductive system, it would have had the exact same effect on Adam’s reproductive system, and it takes two to tango.

    Second, Eve’s body was not cursed by God after He discovered their transgression. Rather, God instructed her about what childbearing would be like, in Gen. 3:16: “I will greatly [increase thy discomfort and thy size](see LDS footnote 16b); in [toil] thou shalt bring forth children” (see Wessel, Helen, The Joy of Natural Childbirth, 1994, for a discussion of how the Hebrew “etsev” is mistranslated in the KJV as “sorrow” or “pain” when the correct translation is “toil”). What God curses is the ground, in Gen. 3:17, speaking to Adam: “. . .cursed is the ground for thy sake; in [toil] shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”

    Comment by Kat — August 27, 2005 @ 9:03 pm

  70. Sorry, somehow “increase thy discomfort and thy size” got linked inadvertently. It should read:

    [increase thy discomfort and thy size] (see LDS footnote 16b)

    Told you I was brand-new!

    Comment by Kat — August 27, 2005 @ 9:09 pm

  71. Welcome, Kat. You bring up some good points.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 28, 2005 @ 1:27 am

  72. It is believed by some that Jesus spent time in India with the Yogi masters. When reading ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Yogananda I was floored at the daily miracles that modern day Yogis perform. They are very similar to miracles that Christ performed during His ministry on earth. Toward the end of the book there is an interesting chapter that goes into the cycles of life and could very well relate to MMPs. I encourage anyone interested to read it with a prayerful heart.

    Comment by Issi — January 2, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  73. Wow.. we jump from Aug 2005 to Jan 2009. Must not be much interest.

    I have come across an individual that teaches this quite nicely. Here is what he says:

    As I pondered more I saw how reincarnation was
    a master piece of a giant jigsaw puzzle that threw
    light on the entire scene. I began to see how little
    we really know. It is like the story of the three
    blind men and the elephant. One grabs a leg and
    says “I perceive that the elephant is like a tree.”
    The second grabs the trunk and states: “No, no
    the elephant is like a large hose.” The third grabs
    the tail and says: “you’re both wrong. The
    elephant is like a rope.” Actually, all three men
    were right, but because they only had a portion of
    the truth they had an entirely wrong idea of the
    whole elephant. This is the way it is with us. That
    portion that we have is correct, but we as a people
    have an entirely wrong idea of what the whole
    elephant looks like. The Lord has said “I shall also
    speak unto ALL NATIONS of the earth and
    THEY SHALL WRITE IT.” II Nephi 29:12 The
    Lord has indeed spoken to all nations of the earth
    and they have written it, but because that portion
    describes the tail, trunk or ear of the elephant and
    does not agree with the leg that we have we rise
    up and condemn them as being of the devil. The
    key to judge was given by Moroni: “Wherefore,
    all things which are good cometh of God.” Moroni
    7:12 Read all of Moroni chapter seven and you
    will have a good idea of how to find the “best
    books” that Joseph Smith was commanded to
    search out.

    According to them only one has achieved
    immortality: “That thou keep this commandment
    without spot unrebukeable, until the appearing of
    our Lord Jesus Christ. Which in his times he shall
    shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the
    King of kings, and Lord of lords; WHO ONLY
    HATH IMMORTALITY, dwelling in a light which
    no man can approach unto…” I Tim 6:16. This is
    indeed an amazing scripture for it plainly tells us
    that only the Christ possesses immortality or the
    Greek ATHANASIA which means literally
    “Deathlessness” and is only found three places in
    the scriptures, none of which conflict with the
    above. Why if this scripture is true it would mean
    that those who were resurrected with the Christ
    are not yet immortal and will die again. That also
    means that, at least up to the time of Timothy, no
    one else had experienced an immortal
    resurrection as Jesus did. That means that there is
    more than one type of resurrection as is plainly
    manifest in the scripture: “Others were tortured
    not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain
    a BETTER RESURRECTION.” Heb 11:35. Also
    there are three Greek words from which the word
    “resurrection” is translated. Putting all the pieces
    of the puzzle together we can safely say that only
    the highest resurrection produces immortality
    and man must pass through numerous lifetimes
    and “receive not a fullness at first… but continue
    from grace to grace (life to life), until he receive a
    fullness.” D&C 93:12-13. We must do as Jesus did
    and progress from life to life until we become like
    unto: “a perfect man, unto the measure of the
    stature of the fullness of Christ.” Eph 4:13 Then
    we may step forward ourselves and be like the
    savior as we have been commanded (Matt 5:48)
    and become the savior of an age: “That you may
    come unto the Father in my name, and in due
    time (after many lifetimes) receive of his fullness.” D&C 93:19.

    My mind reflects back now to another curiosity in
    Mormon doctrine caused by a lack of information.
    The Church believes that many of us will go to
    the celestial kingdom and there become Gods and
    have spirit children and eventually create our
    own worlds and people them. Then the people on
    those worlds will pray to us and worship us as
    Gods. Since the course of God is “one eternal
    round” I Nephi 10:19 that means that the course
    of God in the past will be like that of the future.
    Taking this into account it means that our God at
    one time lived on another world like this. This is
    recognized by Mormon doctrine since Lorenzo
    Snow said “as man is God once was.” Now the
    question arises that when God was on this other
    world was he the Savior of that world, or was he
    an Apostle, or maybe he was just an Elder who
    was a faithful home teacher. Then too he may
    have died as a baby and only breathed a few
    breaths. Maybe he was born during a Millennium
    and knew no sin. Let’s suppose that God was a
    typical member of the Church in His day. He had
    to spend most of his life just earning a living. ‘He
    paid his tithes and offerings and did his home
    teaching and obeyed his Bishop. He never had
    any opportunity to be a savior, he would have
    never dreamed of comparing himself to such.
    Finally, he died and went off to the spirit world
    and there by some mysterious process learned
    everything necessary to be a God. Now he is up
    there in heaven and we worship him. The
    question I now have is would not God feel
    humiliated to have a Son like Jesus who showed
    him up so much when he came down for his life?
    If this were the case then Jesus did ten times as
    good in his earth life as his Father did. How can I
    show due respect to a God that has not
    experienced all the tribulation of earth life that I
    have? Such a God could not succor me in every
    time of need. One can only have a very limited
    number of experiences and trials in one life. Each
    person I meet can only understand a portion of
    my problems because only a portion of his
    problems are similar to mine. What right did God
    have to command Abraham to take the life of his
    son if he had not went through a similar
    experience himself? What right did God have to
    expect his son to be a savior if he had not done so
    Let us suppose that ten million souls on God’s
    original earth made it to the celestial kingdom
    and became Gods. That would roughly mean that
    we have one chance in ten million of having for
    our god the person that was the savior of a world.
    Chances would be our God is merely some Elder
    that did his duty. but wait! The scriptures tell us
    that we are the lucky ones! Our God was the
    Savior of a world. Jesus said: “The Son can do
    nothing of himself, but what HE SEETH THE
    FATHER DO: for what things soever he doeth,
    these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father
    loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that
    himself doeth.” John 5:19-20 Here we have it! God
    must have been a savior at one time for what
    Jesus did when he was here was almost a carbon
    copy of what he saw the Father did. Our God
    then certainly does deserve our respect, but what
    about the other Gods who were not Saviors? How
    can their only begotten Sons say that they are
    doing what their Fathers did? How could they
    teach anyone else to be a Savior if they have not
    learned how and proven it through an actual life
    as a Savior themselves? They could not. To
    become a God we must “overcome all things”
    D&C 76:60 and “The last enemy that shall be
    destroyed is death.” I Cor 15:26. Jesus overcame
    all things and the last enemy he overcame was
    death and after many lives it will be our last
    enemy for we as yet have not overcome all things
    and him “only hath immortality”. I Tim 6:16.
    How could one possibly overcome all the
    weaknesses of mortality in one life??? Many
    believe that in some mysterious way we do not
    understand we will overcome the weaknesses of
    the flesh in the spirit. But how can this be so? If
    one did not pay his tithing because he was
    worried about feeding his family how can he
    possibly gain the faith necessary to do this in the
    spirit where he does not have to worry about
    survival. One can only overcome the things of the
    flesh IN THE FLESH. It is as Jesus said to his
    “And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my
    disciples as I stood before them in the flesh and
    spake unto them saying: As ye have asked me
    concerning the signs of my coming, in the day
    when I shall come in my glory in the clouds Of
    heaven, to fulfill the promises that I have made
    unto your fathers. For as ye have looked upon the
    long absence of your spirits from your bodies to
    be a bondage, I wil1 show unto you how the day
    of redemption shall come… D&C 45:16-17 Here
    Jesus was talking to the disciples during his
    mortal life and he commented on the apostles
    grumbling about the hardship of their spirits
    being separate from their bodies, obviously in the
    past. But if that was their first life, when were
    their spirits ever separated from their bodies and,
    how did they know it was a bondage? If their
    spirits had previously been separated from their
    bodies then sometime in their past they occupied
    other bodies. The disciples were merely
    complaining about their lack of progress between
    The disciples like Abraham had lived numerous
    lives as shown in the scriptures: “And Joshua said
    unto the people, Thus saith the Lord God of
    Israel, your father dwelt on the other side of the
    flood in old time… (The other side of the flood
    probably means before the days of the flood of
    Noah) … And I took Abraham FROM THE
    OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, and led him
    throughout all the land of Canaan…” Joshua 24:2-
    3. This scripture certainly implies that Abraham
    lived on the other side of the flood or before the
    flood in a previous lifetime
    It is as Joseph Smith said: We progress “from
    grace to grace and exaltation to exaltation until
    we attain the resurrection of the dead’ History of
    the Church Vol 6:306 The resurrection talked
    about here is not merely being “born again” or
    reincarnating as many of the scriptures on the
    resurrection are referring to, but he is referring to
    the immortal state referred to by Paul when he
    said “this mortal must put on immortality” I Cor
    15:53. For most that is many lives down the road,
    for according to Joseph Smith we must even be
    exalted BEFORE we attain this resurrection.
    Joseph had to cleverly disguise the doctrine for he
    would have been butchered if he had publicly
    introduced it.
    John Taylor clearly pointed out the need to
    overcome all things: “If any man or woman
    expects to enter into the celestial kingdom of our
    God without being tested to the very uttermost,
    they have not understood the gospel. If there is a
    weak spot in our nature, or if there is a fiber that
    can be made to quiver or to shrink, we may rest
    assured that it will be tested.” THE KINGDOM
    OF GOD OR NOTHING page 345. “For everyone
    shall be salted with fire.” Mark 9:49 “To him that
    overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my
    throne, even AS I ALSO OVERCAME, and am set
    down with my Father in his throne.” Rev. 3:21
    Clearly, then, we are to follow in the footsteps of
    Jesus and eventually live the perfect life: “And he
    that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the
    end to him wil1 I give power over the nations..
    2:26-27 “As my Father hath sent me, even so I
    send you.” John 20:21. Finally God says: “Him
    that over cometh I will make a pillar in the temple
    of my God, AND HE SHALL GO NO MORE
    OUT (Shall not have to be reborn) Rev 3:12
    To show clearly that we only achieve immortality
    after we achieve the status of the Christ we quote:
    “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and
    spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive
    fullness of joy. And when separated, man cannot
    receive fullness of joy.” D&C 93:33-34 Now I will
    make a statement that is beyond refute: If a
    fullness of joy is produced by an inseparable
    connection of the body and spirit, and since those
    in the lower kingdoms (telestial and terrestrial)
    do not have fullness of joy then their spirits and
    bodies ARE NOT inseparably connected and
    must die again. Joseph Smith said something
    similar to this. He said that in the lower kingdoms
    that men would continue to suffer sickness and
    affliction. If men continue to suffer disease then
    death has to follow. Where there is corruption
    there is always the disintegration of the form. The
    scriptures are clear “Whatsoever temple (body) is
    TEMPLE.” D&C 93:35. All those in the lower
    kingdoms have sinned and defiled their temples
    so they shall be destroyed. Furthermore I must
    point out that a Fullness of joy which produces
    immortality only comes in the presence of God:
    “In thy presence is fullness of joy.” Psalms 16:11
    “They shall inherit the kingdom of God…and their
    joy shall be full forever.” II Nephi 9:18. Finally we
    see that fullness of joy comes from living a life
    like the Christ: “And for this cause ye shall have
    fullness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the
    kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full,
    AS I AM…” III Nephi 28:10.
    That there is a resurrection of corruption is
    plainly set forth: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that
    shall he also reap (Often in a future life). For he
    that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh REAP
    CORRUPTION (Greek PHTHORA means decay);
    but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit
    reap life everlasting.” Gal 6:7-8. The doctrine of
    reincarnation was revealed to Joseph Smith near
    the end of his life, but instead of calling it
    reincarnation he called it “eternal lives”. D&C
    132:25&55. The church has always assumed that
    the reason the word “lives” is plural is because
    more than one will achieve eternal life, or the
    husband and wife together make eternal lives, but
    this idea does not coincide with the scripture:
    “But if she (Emma) will not abide this
    commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do
    all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will
    bless HIM (singular) and multiply him and give
    of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters,
    houses and lands, wives and children, and
    WORLDS.” D&C 132:55. Here the Lord was
    definitely speaking to Joseph Smith alone, not
    including his wife or anyone else and promised
    him IN THIS WORLD (this earth existence) an
    hundredfold of fathers and mothers (whoever
    heard of having one hundred fathers and
    mothers?) brothers and sisters, houses (know
    anyone who lived in one hundred houses?) lands
    (How could he live in one hundred countries in
    one life?), wives and children (Joseph Smith never
    had one hundred wives and children in this
    world). Remember up to now the scripture deals
    with “this World” or mortality so don’t say God is
    referring to the next world. The scripture plainly
    points out that only the last few words refers to
    the next world: “And crowns of eternal lives
    (plural) in the eternal worlds (plural). In other
    words we will live many lives on many other
    different earths, worlds far superior to this.
    Instead of living on a Telestial earth like this we
    will go to terrestrial and celestial worlds made of
    matter whose atoms vibrate to a purer tone
    whose nucleus of light shines through unfolded
    electrons until the bodies shine like the sun where
    there is no night. The highest glory we may
    obtain in this Telestial world is to be “servants of
    the Most High.” D&C 76:112. All the worlds you
    see in the sky at night are of a Telestial order. The
    higher worlds are in a light we cannot approach.

    Interestingly, many of the American Indians
    believed in reincarnation. The Dakota tribe taught
    that man lived at least four lives and in between
    those lives he lived with the Gods and received
    instruction in magic and healing. Many of the
    Indian medicine men claimed to remember past
    lives. The Indian hunters did not believed they
    actually killed an animal, but just deprived it of
    its body for a short time. Often among the
    Eskimos if there is an old man who knows he is
    going to die he will find a young couple that he
    likes and ask permission to be their future child.
    If they accept he will give that couple his personal
    things that he wants for his next life and then
    wander off to die. There are numerous
    occurrences where babies of such couples will
    claim such articles as their own, and for a short
    period of time have a recollection of the past life
    associated with them.
    All these things helped me to believe in
    reincarnation, but I did not know it for sure until
    the day I discovered that I had lived before. This
    changed my whole life and outlook and opened
    my eyes to a new world of seeing.
    I was amazed and almost wished it wasn’t true,
    but for once in my life I realized that an average
    member of the church like myself may become
    aware of the truth of many doctrines that neither
    the prophet or the General authorities know
    anything about.
    All things which are written in our imperfect
    language are subject to imperfection so I do not
    claim my words to be infallible, but the essence of
    what is written is true and if you read this with a
    sincere heart prayerfully, really wanting to know
    then the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of it
    to you. The promise in the Book of Mormon
    pertains to all true works. Read Alma 32 and
    D&C 9:7-9 and see if the doctrine of reincarnation
    does not generate the feelings and results
    described. You are commanded to “try the spirits
    whether they are of God.” I John 4:1. Remember
    you are not commanded to ignore the sprits or
    claim they are from the devil, or to try and
    destroy them, but “try them”. It is as Joseph Smith
    said: “When was the time that I was ever
    confounded?” This doctrine cannot be
    confounded or proved wrong because it is true
    and it is in the scriptures despite the efforts of the
    Great and Abominable Church to remove all
    reference to the doctrine. The truth cannot be
    removed and darkness only lasts during the night
    and then cometh the day and we see with a
    perfect light.

    If you want to hear more.. please let me know. I have completed page 8 of 25.

    Comment by MrNirom — January 26, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

  74. Who and where is that quote from MrNirom? (I haven’t read it yet… just wondering since I don’t see any attribution)

    Comment by Geoff J — January 27, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  75. Have any of you read the writings of J.J. Dewey on M.M.P. He, and his son, were apparently excommunicated for teaching about M.M.P. I suppose, as they claim, that they were excommicated because they were publicly teaching it as truth. Although it very well may be truth. Perhaps they should have been discussing it in private like, in the right place, purpose, and time. Actually, I TEND to believe in multiple mortal probations. But the general authorities haven’t made an official stance on the subject as I am aware of. Some agree and some don’t, of course. I know that I am not as close to God as they are, and certainly don’t know more than they. So I feel that I can neither deny nor accept the doctrine of MMP. I think if I turn my life fully back to God, I could know for a surety for myself. Do you think that I could?

    Comment by scott — July 30, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  76. Thank you all for the discussion. I first began a path of study on multiple probations in New Zealand in 1989. I am deeply intersted in the subject. Here is my problem: First, why is that speculation and revelation have taken a back seat to the staus quo. Second, why is there a “time and place” for such discussion? How many times in one year would Joseph Smith been excommunicated from the church for the doctrines he was teaching. Why have we allowed our faith to be turned into a dogmatic collection of do’s and don’ts? Have we fallen asleep at noon day? Do we draw near to the Father with our lips while our hearts are far from him. Do we deny the power of revelation, minstering of angels. Do we now say like those of old that revelations have ceased for all except those ordained to be our leaders? I have heard it all so don’t respond with we belive in personal revelation but for the church it is they who are able. If that were the true order then none of the Book of Mormon could be true. Prophets in the new world would be quiet since Prohets in the east were the general authorities of the day. Don’t get me wrong and cast me out with the “Mormon Apostates”. I do believe there is a place for the church leadership. But how can we keep excommunicating our members for a speculative quest.

    Comment by Bryan Ferre — December 30, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  77. I don’t know of anyone getting in trouble for seeking truth or for speculating about various mysteries Bryan, so I am not sure what you are talking about.

    Of course once someone starts preaching their personal speculations as The Truth they are crossing a line.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 31, 2009 @ 12:52 am

  78. Bryan: I think the Church’s views on speculation have come in waves. I think the last major batch of open speculation by great LDS thinkers was in the Nibley/McConkie era. I think, because of the forcefulness, prominence, and intelligence of these two, it made it very difficult for many others. I like to think General Authorities learned to be more conservative in their speculations after this time.

    I personally like the appeal to the idea that we will receive more revelations when we are ready for more. I think of us like Joshua’s army in the city of Ai. We need to collectively be better. I think we are perpetually working on that.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 31, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  79. So this is totally a belated post but I had a “missionary” of sorts just approach me with MrNirom’s exact #73 post.

    It is a quote from JJ Dewey’s teachings. Apparently after he got Ex’d he had some “followers” or “fans” (often referred to as “Keysters”), have been listening in and spreading the message.

    Well this friend of mine has family who really dig him and his ideas have since left the church and are now spreading the “truth”.

    Here are some websites (warning they must spend a lot of money on webdesign):

    Comment by Riley — January 7, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  80. multiple probation or re-incarnation is as real as the atonement. The key to understanding how it fits into Mormon doctrine is that once a physical being accepts Jesus Christ and the atonement, there is no need to return to this earth. All prior lives have brought that person to the doors of the temple and the saving ordinances. Once received and honored, upon the end of that probation, progression takes a different form and so does eternal existence. That person can enter into Paradise with a purpose that will provide continued eternal progression. There are four possibilities or purposes, probably more, but the four I am aware of is remaining in paradise for a time, learning and perfecting spirit being; working in the spirit prison, preparing others for a higher existence; serving as a spirit guide to a physical being; and some return to the earth to accomplish special works as directed by the Spirit.
    Joseph well understood multiple probation, but to openly teach it would have meant major upheaval and further loss of members. He had enough problems with plural marriage and the law of Consecration. Both Brigham and Heber were indoctrinated in the principles and I suspect others, particularly W.W. Phelps. Eliza Snow certainly knew the teaching and spoke openly to her brother on the subject. I wish the Church of today had the guts to delve into the principles that the Spirit gave to Joseph, it would bring completeness to our truth that we claim to have.

    Comment by Joseph Laflin — August 28, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  81. on the matter of multiple probation, it has been my understanding through personal revelation that we live many lives while hopefully progressing toward perfection, but once we receive the endowments of the temple, and honor them, then upon that death it is not necessary to return to this earth. Thus, the atonement takes on meaning and importance. At that time, we are able to enter the kingdom of paradise
    However many do return from the paradise state for further progression.
    There is no end to progression, hence the eternal round.
    Actually, there are four possibilities for those who enter the paradise state. The first is to simply remain there, enjoying the peace and beauty thereof. Secondly, they might enter the spirit prison such as a missionary preparing those who are ready to receive the work for the dead done in the physical temples. Third, they can continue progression by acting as guides or angels for the living. Lastly, some return to the earth in physical form to complete a great work or task. These are the great ones who walk among us.
    I know this is not scripture and I am not suggesting or teaching it as such. It is however personal revelation and I know it to be true.

    Comment by Joseph Laflin — December 9, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  82. “For JS did speak of eternities in the plural.”

    Did he ever explain why he used the plural (or even hint at what it meant)?

    Comment by Michael Burke — July 16, 2013 @ 7:08 am

  83. One of the biggest reasons to believe this is because the Canonized Scriptures of the Church teach it! What is that you say? I’ve never seen it there!
    Well IT IS THERE. It is in D&C section 76 with some help from sections 43, 88, 93, and 129. With a supporting cast of Alma 42, 2 Nephi 9, Ether 3 & 4, John 9 & 14. The comparison of Matt 5:48 with 3 Nephi 12:48 puts the progression of Christ into perspective.

    And Joseph’s definition of Paradise/Spirit world/Hell and what a spirit is allows a clearer view of many things.(This can be found in many places, one of which is “Joseph Smith’s Teachings” by Joseph Smith/Edwin Perry)

    Section 76 tells us what happens between Death and Birth. It is also the key to understanding how the Atonement actually accomplishes all that it does. It is the Mechanics/Logistics of the Plan of Salvation. There are so many wonderful truths hidden in section 76, but they are only visible through inspired study – word by word – sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph.

    For example, Section 76 tells us that in the “Pre-existance”, Lucifer was a resurrected being.
    We can then infer that Christ was also. And so were we! But where does Section 76 say that Lucifer was resurrected?
    Section 76 also clears up the great paradox of the New Testament, that Christ is both the Father and the Son. It is not figurative or symbolic, it is literal.

    But most gratifying is to see the remarkable increase in forgiveness and love toward others in those who come to understand and embrace this doctrine. I have seen and experienced this great miracle.

    Comment by Doug Hale — July 25, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  84. Goeff,

    MMP are the way we achieve godhood. This post was from 2005, it is now 2014, and I would hope there has been growth in understanding. One must realize we are in the Telestial kingdom, the place where murderers thieves and liars work out their salvation. They will continue to achieve this glory until achieving a higher one. Some of us are just visiting, here to continue learning and growing, working our way to heaven as Isaiah explained. We are bound to this world however, there are more then enough spirits to inhabit other worlds. We are tied to this Adam. You will come to know that Brigaham was not wrong in the Adam God Theory. You must come to know who Adam is, as Brigham did. We learn line upon line. The knowledge we receive is added unto us, it unlocks doors to new kingdoms until we too do what Christ did and achieve godhood ( Teachings of the Prophets, Lorenzo Snow, pgs 110 and 111). We are trying to understand the elephant by only feeling his tail, and the fact is this elephant had a thousand heads and even more trunks. We do have a glimpse, and the Savior will, upon his return, reveil all things.


    Comment by Darren — January 4, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

  85. Heheh. I like how you used an authoritative tone in your comment, Darren.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 4, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

  86. Geoff,

    Perhaps Darren is BRM reincarnated?

    Comment by Riley — January 5, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  87. Except BRM seemingly thought MMP was poppycock. But Darren writes with a similar grave/authoritative tone.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 5, 2014 @ 10:18 am

  88. No, I believe you’re thinking of first wave BRM, but he mastered accepting MMP before he passed away. Second wave BRM apparently still has a “finality” tone issue.

    “The more you know {shooting star}”

    Comment by Riley — January 11, 2014 @ 12:11 am