Are we in the middle of a council in heaven?

October 17, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 9:53 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP

Buckle up amigos. I’ve been a thinkin’ again…

A few recent doctrinal discussions I’ve had raised a question in my mind: Are we participating in a “Council in Heaven” right this moment? I figured this would be a good place to explore the idea.

Let’s compare the things that have been revealed about our pre-mortal life to the things that have been revealed about our life to come:

1a. In the pre-mortal life a third part of the host of heaven chose not to follow God’s plan.
1b. In this life they scriptures say a third part of the folks here choose not to follow God and to be wicked. (The unrepentant murderers, liars, adulters, etc known as the Telestial group).

2a. In the pre-mortal life the third that rejected God and his plan did not get a body here.
2b. In the next life the folks that are the Telestials do not get a body until the second resurrection. We are told the second resurrection occurs “a thousand years” after the first resurrection. It is worth noting that “a thousand years” is often scriptural symbolism for “A really, really long time.”

3a. The scriptures tell us little about the fate of the third part that rejected God before this world. We are told that along with the devil they are assigned to hell without bodies.
3b. The wicked “third part” of humankind will also be assigned to hell (sometimes called prison) without bodies for a proverbial “thousand years”. After a really long time in prison/hell the wicked here will finally get a body back and have a Telestial glory somewhere.

Those of you that have followed along with me for some time know exactly what I’m getting at here. For the rest of you let me explain that I am very partial to a model of the eternities that was taught by several 19th century apostles and prophets. I sometimes call it the Heber C. Kimball model of eternity, but it is more commonly called multiple mortal probations. See this post for an overview of the idea or see this category of posts on the overall subject of eternal progression.

In my last post I pointed out some logical flaws in some traditional model of what happens in the next life. Among those flawed ideas are the notions that there are three completely separate places people must go for eternity. I think that this is false and that the “kingdoms” describe the character of people not the place where they will live next. I further believe that the three degrees of glory are symbolic of the continuum of glory that all humankind is on ranging from the dimmest star to the brightness of the sun. Indeed I think the evidence is very strong that our world is populated right now by people that were judged to be Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial beings prior to arriving here. The best chapter of scripture to support my theories is Abraham chapter 3. In that chapter we are given the continuum model of intelligences and Abraham is shown that he was a “noble and great one” that stood in the company of Jesus Christ himself prior to arrival here. That indicates to me that this “Telestial world” is populated by those that have already attained Celestial characters along with those that have attained Telestial and Terrestrial characters.

If that is the case then perhaps we are in the midst of a “council in heaven” that will be looked back to as we continue in another probation in the future. Somebody must inhabit the worlds without number that have been organized and will continue to be organized after all. If those inhabitants were not and will not be us then the vast majority of humankind will get shelved for all eternity while God moves on to the latest “batch” of children. I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe God would ever allow us to be discarded. Would you do that to your kids (even if they agreed to it)? I think that throughout all eternity “his hand is stretched out still” to us if we choose to repent and follow him.

As a parting tidbit or two, let me direct you to an excellent analysis by Jeffrey Giliam of the Garden of Eden narrative. He points to strong evidence that the garden story symbolizes our pre-mortal existence and fall from heaven to mortality. Let me also point out the teaching in the church that the new world Adam and Eve came to was modeled after the one where they used to live.

The brethren have never been hesitant to point out that the war in heaven continues here. But the war in heaven is just another name for the council in heaven. I’m starting to think we’re in that council choosing who to follow right now. (And that sure makes it a lot easier to understand why a third part chose Satan’s plan there – a third part chooses to do so all around us here too…)

51 Comments »

  1. Interesting, Geoff. I think your ideas about MMP make a lot more sense in an eternal time-frame than our traditional SMP model. At least it gives us an idea as to what we would be doing for those eternities.

    On the other hand, I don’t know if the chance of being reborn into a Stygian world in the future is most people’s idea of a restful afterlife.

    Comment by NFlanders — October 18, 2005 @ 5:29 am

  2. Stygian: adj.
    1.
    a. Gloomy and dark.
    b. Infernal; hellish.
    2. Of or relating to the river Styx.

    Thanks Ned. I don’t think there is any chance of being born into a Stygian world. All worlds are presumably the very same model as this beautiful one we are living on. The hell the scriptures refer to is reserved for those that do not merit bodies for “a thousand years” aka a really long time.

    Of course this world seems hellish to some of us and heavenly to others. That is largely a function of our perspective and situation and relationship with God I think.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 8:46 am

  3. What I meant was that this world has been pretty Stygian for 99% of recorded history. Even in our enlightened times of running water and air conditioning, you could be born in North Korea (the very definition of Stygian) or a crowded city in India or China or Africa. Who knows how we could screw up future worlds. If you look at the odds, I’d say the chances of being happy in another mortal probation are next to none. That’s why I don’t find MMP to be a comforting thought.

    Comment by NFlanders — October 18, 2005 @ 9:29 am

  4. Interesting point Ned. I would say that the determining factors in whether mortality is heavenly or hellish have little or nothing to do with technology or modern conveniences, though. I think it has nearly everything to do with things like the love, kindness, and compassion a person receives and gives in life. And the amount of light and truth a person finds and accepts makes a big difference too. I just can’t believe that someone like Enoch had a worse life then many modern Americans because he lived in the the ancient world for instance. The idea of MMP sort of deals with this in that it implies that the situation into which we are born has at least something to do with who we were before arrival here. (I qualify that as “at least something” because I think it oversimplifies to say it has everything to do with our pre-mortal life and judgment — many saints believe that sometimes we are born into challenging sitations as part of our learning experiences for instance.)

    But the model does emphasize the oft repeated unofficial purpose of the restored church: “To make bad men good and to make good men better”. It also jibes with the notion that many of the noble and great ones (like Abraham) are sent to families and situations where they have opportunity to fulfill important missions for God in this life. This is why the notion of foreordination is just and useful.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  5. Geoff, what about infants who die before the age of accountability? Aren’t they promised the Celestial Kingdom? If so then why are they here? If this is their first life experience then ok, but if your model is correct then it doesn’t make sense for them to come to their next earth already qualified for the Celestial Kingdom, only to die so quickly. Now that I thought about that what about Enoch, Abraham etc.?

    Does God hold back some of those who qualify for the Celestial Kingdom so they can do good things on the next earth cycle? Is that fair?

    Actually I like your model and discussion, it makes a lot of sense and answers a lot of questions….but it obviously raises a few too. Like if a resurrected body is spirit and body inseperatably connected then how does birth take place on the next earth cycle?

    Comment by don — October 18, 2005 @ 10:41 am

  6. Geoff, I think you’re drastically underestimating the importance of material circumstances in determining people’s happiness. Some cross-national (and intra-national) research has been done on this, and it turns out that extreme poverty is highly correlated with decreased happiness and life satisfaction.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — October 18, 2005 @ 11:21 am

  7. I’m not sure that I completely buy into your theory here. First of all, there are 3 degrees of glory in the after life just as much as there are here. In fact, some would argue even more so. If we are to suggest that the 3rd part leaving refers to here then we would have to allow room for those who repent. In other words, some would leave, then come back and possibly leave again and so on. Again, the after life would probably be a better model for the permanence implied by this description.

    One also has to deal with all the other stuff which was supposed to have happened in the pre-existence which doesn’t seem to be happening here. For instance the choosing of a savior. The being in God’s presence. Learning all those lessons which we are supposed to be “remembering” here. And so on. Reinterpreting these things within the context of this life isn’t going to be very easy or pleasant for it certainly makes the validity of those teachings and choices somewhat sketchy at best.

    Perhaps it would be better to equate the pre-mortal spirit council with the post mortal spirit world where all sorts of teaching and choosing of a more permanent nature will be happening.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — October 18, 2005 @ 11:33 am

  8. Interesting point RT. I guess the readers here can overlay that piece of information on the MMP model as they will.

    Don – Good questions. This idea that I have stumbled on in my ponderings is a little new to me so I’m still working through some of this myself. Regarding the permanent resurrection doctrine; we have discussed that in former posts somewhat. The usual ways of dealing with it are pointing to section 19 where God says “eternal” is a description of quality rather than a designation of a length of time. In my last post I also pointed out the problems associated with being stuck in a telestial or terrestrial body forever. I think that model is much harder to defend than the MMP model.

    The children who die is a good question. It is possible that they are indeed Celestial natured people that simply passed on this probation. I don’t know enough to speculate more than that though. Maybe their services were not needed here, whereas others like Abraham were needed to serve important roles for God. Again, I really don’t have many good ideas on that one yet. (And yes, I think that Celestial persons come here as mortals. Jesus came here after all. Abraham was told he already stood among the group that Jesus was in. I take that to mean he was already a celestial person prior to this life but that he came here to serve just like Jesus did but to a lesser degree).

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 11:38 am

  9. The “eternal” way of describing resurrected bodies doesn’t bother me, but the resurrected body being inseperably connected does. If the spirit and body can’t be seperated then we are assuming with your model they later can be?

    If the services of the infants who die aren’t needed here then why bring them here? It seems a bit unfair for them to have to go thru death again.

    If Jesus came to help us, like Abraham, Adam, Enoch, J.S. etc, do they go on to multiple earths to help out there too? Does that mean Christ is crucified over and over again, or is He an exception?

    Comment by don — October 18, 2005 @ 12:30 pm

  10. It seems to me your basic model says we go thru multiple earth experiences until we become a Celestial being, except for those who don’t like Adam, Abraham, infants etc. If you are needed to help out on another earth then too bad, your Celestial body/reward/kingdon is put on hold and you get another earth life…what happens if they screw up then? And for the infants who die, it’s just too bad!

    Comment by don — October 18, 2005 @ 12:34 pm

  11. Jeff,

    I am thoroughly confused by your comment. That indicates to me that you probably missed my point in the post. That tells me that I was not nearly clear enough so I will try again here.

    Let’s call this planet “E”, we’ll call the last inhabited planets E-1 and the next inhabited planet E+1.

    Now in the single mortal probation model we only get E to be tested. E-1 and E+1 plus all of the other innumerable worlds are apparently inhabited by God’s “other families”. (Yuck. Who buys this?)

    What I am saying is that in E-1 the people lived, chose and died. The Terrestrial and Celestial among them moved on to here (E) while the third part that chose wickedness were not given bodies here but have to remain in hell throughout the course of this probation. At the end of E, the Terrestrial and Celestial will be part of the first resurrection and will move on to E+1. They will be joined there by the Telestial folks who were sent to hell after E-1 because they have paid for all their own sins and get to a Telestial body again in E+1.

    Do you see the pattern? That means the people here include the Terrestrial and Celestial folks from E-1 and the Telestials from E-2 who have joined this world as part of their “second resurrection” after suffering for all their own sins.

    Eventually though Celestial beings would be able to move on to actual Divinity either in a role like Adam and Eve or other important roles. The other possibility is that people could regress to the point of the destruction of their souls (which I take to mean the “deconstruction” of the eternal intelligence parts that made up their soul for recycling in the Universe — a subject that is very worthy of taking up separately).

    Now before anyone freaks out, let me assure you I am not saying this is true doctrine. I am only presenting it as a model for consideration. I think it actually fits the revelations surprisingly well personally.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

  12. Don,

    As I mentioned, I don’t know what to make of children dying. I can say that it makes a lot more sense in the MMP model that it does in a one probation model, though.

    As for you other question, see my last comment (#11). I tend to think that the evidence points the roles like Adam and Eve (as well as savior) being callings that are required on every planet. Jesus said he only was doing what he saw his father do after all.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

  13. I’m suspicious that a little too much hangs on a literal interpretation of the phrases “first” and “second” resurrections. These phrases were originally used by Paul who used them to describe the resurrections that were to occur in or very soon after his lifetime, he believing the 2nd coming to be very imminent. Joseph Smith borrowed these terms and applied them, it would seemk, in a way relatively similar to Paul in that people who had lived here would eventually be resurrected here and this including telestial folk as well (this of course being after the millenium or something). I don’t think that this scenarion fits in with your very well at all.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — October 18, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

  14. Careful Jeff; the concept of a first and second resurrection was taught by John as well. See the Revelation 20 link in the post.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 1:01 pm

  15. I’m not seeing much of a difference in John’s description. Of course John’s account is given in a similar context to that of Joseph Smith, namely that the expected rapture had NOT come when is was expected to. Other than that I don’t see what that passage accomplishes in the context of my criticisms.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — October 18, 2005 @ 1:09 pm

  16. I was mostly pointing out that the second resurrection concept was not first taught by Paul and lifted by Joseph. I further don’t know why your saying you don’t like it much should be very convincing to me. It is there in the scriptures, you are free to think what you will of it. Am I missing your point? Is there a reason why I should read those passges like you do?

    The scriptures seem to make it clear that the first resurrection is a great deal more desirable to be a part of than the second.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

  17. I finally went back and reread your post and realize where I went wrong. I thought that you were trying to suggest that this life is a pre-mortal council and that our pre-mortal council was in a previous probation like this. That I defintely disagree with.

    Now as to what you really meant there are some other issues which must be dealt with.

    1) Paul was the first person to teach the 1st/2nd resurrection distinction as far as I can tell. It should be noted that we don’t really have any reason to suppose that the John who wrote revelation was the same as the one who wrote the gospel, nor do we have very good reason to suspect that either of those was really the man who traveled around with Jesus either. In any case, Paul’s doctrines were pretty much the very foundation of the christian church as it came to be and was definitely the source for the author of the book of revelation.

    2) The second resurrection still seems to me to be in the same “world” that one died in. Of course here is where questions can be raised about the nature of the MMP’s. Does a person die -> resurrect -> become disembodied again in order to be -> born again? Or is it die -> born again as a form of the resurrection? The second seems far more harmonious with itself though certainly doesn’t seem to go along with Paul’s doctrines at all, but then again neither does MMP’s nor much of Mormon doctrine to be honest.

    Aside from these problems which I see in your model, you do raise some interesting issues which I’ve never thought of before.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — October 18, 2005 @ 1:32 pm

  18. (I contacted Jeff separately. He gets my point now but I’m not sure he did when he wrote #17).

    It appears your pointis #1 is to say that Revelation may not be reliable scripture and that only Paul and Joseph taught about the 1st and 2nd resurrection. I wonder what your point is. The only question I need answered is whether the doctrine true or not. Since Paul and John and Joseph Smith all taught it I feel pretty confident that it is an accurate doctrine.

    Regarding your #2 — can you show me where in our scriptures the doctrine that “The second resurrection still seems to me to be in the same “world” that one died in” is taught? As for the other models, I suspect that different folks receive different kinds of resurrections with different timing. (Thus we not only have the first resurrection but also talk of the “morning of the first resurrection”)

    I’m glad my proposed model is spurring thought though.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 4:43 pm

  19. So Geoff with your model being Celestialized on this earth means you get to be a helper (Abraham) on the next? I was hoping that thru the Grace of God and 1,000 years of living during the Millenium without Satan to mess with me, that I’d be Celestialized this time around. Now I have E+1 to look forward to? Where will it end? How do I know when I’m there? When does Celestialized = becoming a God?

    Comment by don — October 18, 2005 @ 4:54 pm

  20. Don,

    It ends when we are just like Christ. Don’t worry, we have plenty of time to work on that still in this life. I think we know we are just like him when our loving relationship with God is so real and close that we really know one another — when we become One with them. (See my One Love post…)

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 6:10 pm

  21. I guess I have two problems with this theory.
    1- How does it take into account our family relationships and our eternal temple sealings?
    And 2- I think the MMP angle puts too much emphasis on the importance of mortal existence. I mean to say that while a mortal existence is vital, more than one is not necessary.
    I believe that premortality was an infinite state, that is why the 1/3 are cast out forever– infinite state= infinite consequences. Mortality is a temporary, you might even say artificial state, where we can experience opposites in order to be like the Gods. I think one mortality is enough, the rest of our progression can be worked out in our natural infinite state with the advantages of our earthly experience and the added benefit of a physical body.
    So the way I see it- our natural state is eternal- without the opposition experienced in mortality. Yet we couldn’t progress if we stayed in our pre-mortal state forever. We could know “no joy, for (we) knew no misery; doing no good, for (we) knew no sin”. The earth is a place where opposites can exist. Hence, as Orson Pratt said about Adam: “by partaking of the forbidden fruit he experienced misery, then he knew that he was once happy, previously he could not comprehend what happiness meant, what good was; but now he knows it by contrast..”
    Or in other words, mortal probation is the one step that could only be taken in a temporarily non-eternal existence- to learn to “be as a God, knowing good and evil.”
    Though this step is essential to progression, (Orson Pratt again) “Spirits, though pure and innocent, before they entered the body, would become contaminated by entering a fallen tabernacle; not contaminated by their own sins, but by their connection with a body brought into the world by the fall, earthly, fallen, imperfect, and corrupt in its nature. A spirit, having entered such a tabernacle, though it may commit no personal sin, is unfit to return again into the presence of a holy Being. . .” This alone requires an eternal atonement by an infinite being with an infinite nature. I think Adam stepped up and volunteered to be responsible for the fall, and Jesus Christ volunteered to atone for it. All the rest of our progression can then happen during our return to an infinite, but now embodied, state.

    Comment by C Jones — October 18, 2005 @ 8:28 pm

  22. I’m assuming for your ‘E’, ‘E-1′, ‘E+1′ model to work that God has an infinite number of children (which is a bummer because some would be waiting around ‘forever’ for a chance at E+N) or rather God is continuing to create spirits at the exact same rate as those extracted from the model for total Goodness (Godhood) or total evilness (disassembly)?

    I personally reject MMP because I don’t think it is fair that one can be good (but not good enough for Godhood) for an infinity-1 number of E’s and the totally screw up on one E and be disassembled. Likewise I don’t think it is fair that one can be bad (but not bad enough for disassembly) for infinity-1 number of E’s and then “death-bed repentance” on the last E for eternal Godhood.

    If there HAD to be a MMP, I’d much prefer a model where the baddest person in E is better off than the baddest person in E-1 (kinda a Cain rules Satan deal).

    Comment by Daylan — October 18, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

  23. C Jones,

    The family sealing question is a really good one. Before I tackle that let me address some of your other comments.

    I believe that premortality was an infinite state

    I’ve heard similar things before but I have no idea what it means. Do you think we llived as spirits in this universe?

    the rest of our progression can be worked out in our natural infinite state with the advantages of our earthly experience and the added benefit of a physical body.

    Where will we live with these new (permanent) bodies. Somewhere in this universe? Can an Telestial body ever upgrade through repentance to Terrestrial or Celestial? If not what do you mena by progress?

    So the way I see it- our natural state is eternal

    I don’t understand what this means. Aren’t we eternal in nature now?

    Yet we couldn’t progress if we stayed in our pre-mortal state forever.

    Could we make some progress? If so how much? How did Jesus become a full-fledged God prior to earth for instance but we didn’t. If we were there forever it was not a time issue. Why the gradation then?

    The earth is a place where opposites can exist.

    Didn’t opposites exist there? Did we have agency? Don’t the scriptures say we had to choose there too? How did some become noble and great if there was no opposition or choices there?

    I know there are lots of questions but I think there are lot of holes in the explanation you gave…

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 9:46 pm

  24. In my last post I pointed out some logical flaws in some traditional model of what happens in the next life.

    Let me rephrase that: “In my last post, I tried to point out flaws in the traditional model using flawed logic and hyperbole” :twisted:

    I think that I will counter post.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 18, 2005 @ 9:53 pm

  25. Daylan: I’m assuming for your ‘E’, ‘E-1′, ‘E+1′ model to work that God has an infinite number of children

    Quite the opposite. This model allows the same batch of us whom God loves so much all the opportunity we need to become like Christ or to choose to utterly reject him and all truth and light. In the model, we are the group of his children that lives on each of those worlds either progressing spiritually or regressing. If there is no MMP then God must have nearly infinite batches of children.

    Based on the rest of your comment I think you are misunderstanding the concept of MMP. Check out some of the links in the post — I think they explain the idea better.

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

  26. I think that I will counter post.

    Nice J. Of course it always sounds like hyperbole when it crushes a false doctrine you want to tenaciously cling to…

    (A little smack talk for ya before the throwdown…) :twisted:

    Comment by Geoff J — October 18, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

  27. Wait a minute Geoff…

    In number 11 you said “Eventually though Celestial beings would be able to move on to actual Divinity either in a role like Adam and Eve or other important roles. The other possibility is that people could regress to the point of the destruction of their souls (which I take to mean the “deconstruction” of the eternal intelligence parts that made up their soul for recycling in the Universe-a subject that is very worthy of taking up separately).”

    Doesn’t this mean that at each ‘E’, some number of souls are removed (Either Divinity or Deconstruction?) from the equation such that the number of souls in E+1 is less than the number of souls in E? At some future E (E+N, N is a really BIG number) there won’t be enough souls to maintain society.

    Comment by Daylan — October 19, 2005 @ 5:22 pm

  28. This whole MMP thing is getting me so depressed. I really hope that your wrong about this perception of the plan of salvation. I hate the idea that we’re going to have to go through this all again, complete with the whole forgetting thing. I hate forgetting stuff. (And does this account for everyone’s past life regression stuff?)

    Side note, I have been looking wildly for the reference on this and cannot find it, but something I’ve read suggested that the Sons of Perdition and the meaning of outer darkness had to do with the fact that the very essence of our beings – the intelligences that we are — will be destroyed, taken apart, dismantled, no more consciousness, etc. These sons of Perdition will presumably cease to exist forever and ever (this is including the third of the Council in Heaven that was cast out). How does this fit in with your MMP and We-Are-In-A-Council-Now theories? Is this matter (that cannot be created or destroyed) recycled into new beings that start at square one again??

    Comment by meems — October 20, 2005 @ 10:22 pm

  29. Didn’t Bruce Almighty call this heresy #5? Does D&C 132:16-17 or so describe telestial states as permenant, worlds without end, forever and ever. Doesn’t MMP lead to an eat drink and be merry attitude?

    I happen to believe that the pre-existance has a lot to do with where we end up. And that the Lord has enough forknowledge to be a perfect judge based on what we have done here and in pre-existance. To me this MMP creates more problems than it solves.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 2, 2005 @ 1:46 pm

  30. Doesn’t MMP lead to an eat drink and be merry attitude?

    It could. But the question is not whether it is a good marketing or motivational belief but rather whether it is accurate or not. I think the evidence points to it being accurate. Further, I have argued that single probation model leads to a “free ride” theology that also leads to complacency.

    I happen to believe that the pre-existance has a lot to do with where we end up.

    The logical problem you then face is that we have had free will forever, and that free will had an effect on our condition here. Why then do we lose our agency after this life? If you think MMP causes more problems than it solve then we are probably looking at things with different assumptions.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 2, 2005 @ 2:42 pm

  31. Geoff, are you saying that you don’t think we have had free agency forever? Why not? I don’t think we lose our agency after this life – that’s why we have missionary work in spirit prison. Even the idea of eternal progression could conceivably be based on free agency – work hard to progress or stay static – whatever you choose. Maybe I don’t get what you’re saying in response to OOOOOT.

    Comment by meems — November 2, 2005 @ 11:59 pm

  32. Actually, quite the opposite, meems. I believe we have always had agency and we always will (though I think that we gain more and more of it as we progress — sort of like how agency probably emerges in little children). I was responding to #30 and the idea that there is no possibily for progression after our judgment. I think that wherever there is agency there is the possiblity for progression or regression. Therefore, if we retain our agency forever, then we can choose to progress or regress spiritually forever. (And that is why the logical possibility of God ceasing to be God is brought up in the BoM — because God still has agency too)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 3, 2005 @ 12:10 am

  33. I did a quick browse of previous MMP posts. I did not see anyone address D&C 132:17. It says ‘For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain seperately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.’

    If this scripture has been adressed and I just missed it, I apologize. This just seem fairly straight forward and unambiguous. It is the primary scripture Bruce used in his deadly heresies talk. I would like to get contrary thoughts to this if I am going to change my mind.

    Also, I believe there is a great difference between quality of spirits. We have Jesus and Lucifer as extreem examples, and everyone in-between. I think there will be many who simply choose not to progress and never will. Perhaps no external damnation is necessary. Others may not be like you and desire eternal progression.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 3, 2005 @ 7:16 am

  34. I think the opposite of eternal progression is stasis, rather than regression. The thought of being judged to go to the terrestrial kingdom and then at some point ending up in the telestial Kingdom because of laziness or whatever is horrifying. Especially if the telestial K. is back here in another earthly mortal probation, forgetting everything we’ve learned along the way. Get me off this wheel of samsara! Nirvana anyone?

    Comment by meems — November 3, 2005 @ 8:38 am

  35. OOOOT: I did not see anyone address D&C 132:17.

    The first way to address 132:17 and other verses like it is to bring up the huge loophole the Lord gives us in section 19.

    6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
    8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
    9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
    10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am bendless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore-
    11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
    12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

    In other words, references to punishments or rewards that are eternal in the scriptures can be seens as references about the quality of the reward or punishment rather than the duration.

    Further, it is no stretch to say that persons of non-exalted character will never be exalted beings. But if those persons can continue to repent throughout eternity then they will gain exalted characters and enter into the perfect relationship/union with God that He wants for us. I think we have to accept that there is no agency in the eternities to come in order to accept that there is no repentance there. I think the scriptures refute both of those notions.

    I think there will be many who simply choose not to progress and never will.

    I agree. The question is where they will live as they fail to make much spiritual progress or to regress much spiritually… I think is on worlds without end… That is where the evidence seems to point I think. If not that then what? Planet of the terrestials? (See also here)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 3, 2005 @ 4:52 pm

  36. meems: I think the opposite of eternal progression is stasis, rather than regression.

    I think Lehi might argue against that, meems. He says there is opposition in all things. The opposite (mirror image) of +10 is not 0 but -10.

    For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2 Ne. 2: 11)

    I know for a fact that Elder John A. Widtsoe disagreed with your position:

    If there is progression, there may also be retrogression; if there is good, there may be evil. Everything has its opposite.
    (Rational Theology, Chapter 15)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 3, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

  37. Okay, I give in on the retrogression/progression definition from Elder Widtsoe.

    But, while there might be opposition in all things here on earth, I don’t think there has to be opposition in all things after this mortal probation. God cannot dwell where evil is. God is pure good. So, in terms of exaltation, at some point there doesn’t have to be an opposition in all things, does there? What opposing forces are at work within the Celestial Kingdom? Just “not progressing?” Couldn’t it be argued that staying put (stasis) is a type of regression if everyone else is progressing around you? For example, I quit taking higher math classes in high school – never took them in college. While others might have progressed to calculus and I didn’t, it doesn’t negate the fact that I took trig and pre-calc, etc. My only “regression” is the fact that I have forgotten most of what I learned, but I’m sure it would come back to me with some review. Or is this what you mean — if I were to continue with my math education, I might have to start back with an algebra or geometry review class? Do you see the analogy I am lamely trying to make? Sorry – you way out-brain me, Geoff.

    Comment by meems — November 3, 2005 @ 11:20 pm

  38. Does one have to have all power and all ability to have free will and the ability to repent? I believe we had free agency and the ability to repent in the pre-existence. Even though we had no physical bodies and did not have all the Father hath so to speak. We also have the ability to have free agency and to repent in this life even though we do not have a fulness of exaltation here either. Can we not have free will and the ability to repent in any of the kingdoms then even if we do not have a fulness of exaltation? We can be forgiven of sins, and not have to pay for them, which is a great benefit even if it does not bring a fulness of salvation can’t we? God may grant some a higher level of power, ability and glory than others based on a perfect eternal knowledge and judgement without taking away free agency and repentance I think. Just because our abilities are limited does not mean we don’t have free agency.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 4, 2005 @ 6:50 am

  39. Does one have to have all power and all ability to have free will and the ability to repent?

    No, of course not. I’m confused… Did I imply this somewhere?

    I think maybe what I did not make clear is that I believe our spiritual “power” and even “glory” are and will forever be directly correlated with our character and also with the nature of our relationship with God. Therefore if a person with a Telestial character continues to have agency after this life then that person still has the intrinsic potential to repent and become Terrestrial natured or even Celestial natured over the eternities to come, regardless of what “kingdom” they are assigned to as a result of this probation. I think that if we believe agency continues then the capacity for progression (or regression) between “kingdoms” also continues.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 4, 2005 @ 8:39 am

  40. I would guess that anyone who truly has the potential to be Celestial will be judged and resurrected as such. And will have done all they needed to do to qualify. Anyone not resurrected as such ultimately did not have that potential. People can change, and I believe those that can ultimately will. I also believe that there is a great advantage to changing early other than late. But I do not believe that anyone who ends up in a lower kingdom could qualify for a higher kingdom given more time and opportunities. My only doctrinal ‘evidence’ for this is in Christ being an all knowing and perfect judge, which should not be in dispute.

    Why bother coming to eath at all then? I believe it is strictly for our benefit. I believe that God could have judged us prior to even coming to earth, but for our benefit did not. Of course all of this is probably dead wrong.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 4, 2005 @ 10:14 am

  41. I would guess that anyone who truly has the potential to be Celestial will be judged and resurrected as such.

    Which one of God’s children does not have the potential to become Celestial? Doesn’t being the children of God mean that 100% of humankind has the potential to become like him? Simply because someone does not acheive that as a result of this probation does not mean that they “ultimately did not have that potential”.

    My only doctrinal ‘evidence’ for this is in Christ being an all knowing and perfect judge, which should not be in dispute.

    I would dispute your definition of “all knowing”… (see here) I believe God knows all that can be known, but that the future acts of truly free beings are not among the knowable things in this Universe. Therefore, coming to earth is not to simply play out a fixed future, but rather to let God test us in an open (read: non-fixed) future just as our scriptures claim:

    And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them (Abr 3:25)

    Comment by Geoff J — November 4, 2005 @ 11:13 am

  42. I appreciate your willingness to read and reply to my comments. It seems that my thinking is a bit juvenile compared to others – Thank you. Some questions:

    Isn’t MMP like a teacher who keeps giving extra credit assignments until everyone gets an A+? When does it end? Is there never a line in the sand that says – enough already, this is you’re resurrection? Will everyone be in the Celestial Kingdom eventually? Even Satan and his followers? If there ever is a deadline, why would MMP be any better than MMP-1?

    And then exhaustive foreknowledge. I may be stupid, but I have never had a problem with 100% forekknowledge of God and 100% freedom for me. I see 0% contradiction in this combination, but others seem to. Also, what about prophecy? There have been a few specific profecies given. Were these just good forcasts of what might happen if everyone uses their agency as God expects? Wasn’t Nephi and others shown future events of the world? I have no problem currently with God knowing the future.

    I’m really not trying to be disagreeable, just trying to sort out some opinions.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 4, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

  43. Sorry, my stupid new spam filter deleted the long comment I made. I’ll try again.

    Isn’t MMP like a teacher who keeps giving extra credit assignments until everyone gets an A+? When does it end?

    I don’t think so. I think there is a chance for F or A+… Exaltation on one hand or “destruction of the soul” on the other. We are just given enough time to decide what we will choose.

    As for when it ends… That is one of the the great and terrible questions isn’t it? One answer could be that it is constantly ending for the old us because the old us is always being replaced by the current us, and the current us is either more or less Godlike than the old us depending on our choices. In another sense, we are eternal beings so there are some essential parts of us for which it (life) will never end… (see my various posts on related topics here)

    I think most of you foreknowledge questions have been discussed in this series of posts. Check them out and let me know if other parts remain unanswered.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 4, 2005 @ 3:47 pm

  44. I had a fairly good experience last night reading/studying even praying about this MMP model.

    I was reading in the epistle of Joseph (D&C 132) where it talked about if someone would have accepted the gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity they will be celestial. This supports my view of a perfect judge which to me renders additional probations unnecessary. I then thought of madifying another scripture something like this:

    Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead if there are multiple mortal probations? Why are they then baptized for the dead?

    Does not vicarious work for the dead contradict a MMP model? Would it not be ‘better’ for someone to be baptized on their own in another probation that to receive one vicariously? But I do not believe that is the plan. I am starting to firm up my opinion of the plan being SMP, vicarious work, perfect judge. When I combine this with what I read in ALMA 11 and ALMA 12, D&C 132, D&C 76, Mormon Doctrine on second chances and reincarnation it gets pretty convincing for me.

    By the way, your a saxaphone player. I have an alto sax that has a broken octave key support. It has broken off and is lost. It would probably not be easy to fix. Can you buy an inexpensive gooseneck for an alto sax? Are they fairly universal? Is anything about saxaphones cheap any more?

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 5, 2005 @ 6:11 am

  45. I’m glad to hear this discussion is sparking some pondering, praying, and scripture study. Regardless of the truth on the matter, the investigation is a good thing. You’ve brought up some valid points that I would like to address.

    I was reading in the epistle of Joseph (D&C 132) where it talked about if someone would have accepted the gospel with all their hearts had they been given the opportunity they will be celestial.

    So that “if” is huge here. If we really have free will and the future really is open, then there is only one way to know what a person will do during probations, and that is to let them have the full probation. Any other solution assumes we are judged based on God deciding what he believes we were going to do.

    Further, I don’t believe we are really judged on what we do anyway. I think we are judged on two things: What we are, and who we know. I am writing a post on this already, but briefly; what we are means what is our character and nature (not what is might become if we continue to repent); and in a related concept, how well we actually know God determines our condition after this life. The two concepts (our natures and the closeness of our relationship with God) are inextricably intertwined I think.

    Does not vicarious work for the dead contradict a MMP model?

    I don’t think it does. Continuing repentance in the spirit world allows people to continue their probation after all. It allows them to work on “who they know and what they are”. Our work for them here allows us to do the very same thing while even allowing us to be rescuers to them in a type and shadow of the way Christ rescues us.

    The progress we make (or not) on who we know and what we are is the explanation of why there is so much inequality in the lives of people in mortal probations though (based on our choices and judgments before this world). Without it we have a harder time understanding why some people are born with all the spiritual advantages in this world while others have almost none.

    When I combine this with what I read in ALMA 11 and ALMA 12, D&C 132, D&C 76

    Interestingly, I see evidence for MMP in all of those scriptures. It has a lot to do with the assumptions we bring in I think.

    Mormon Doctrine on second chances and reincarnation it gets pretty convincing for me.

    Elder McConkie clearly didn’t believe in MMP. However, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, Eliza R. Snow, and many other 19th century apostles and leaders did. It is not one of those things that the Lord has chosen to settle for the whole church. Therefore, I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for rejecting the notion of MMP. I like the idea and believe it might be true for lots of reasons but it remains a doctrine that is still unsettled in the church and I’m fine with that.

    Is anything about saxaphones cheap any more?

    Nope. I recommend you look up band instrument repair in your local yellow pages and talk with a good local repair person. They can usually either fix it or recommend godd places to order replacement parts.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 5, 2005 @ 9:18 am

  46. I would say that the determining factors in whether mortality is heavenly or hellish have little or nothing to do with technology or modern conveniences, though. I think it has nearly everything to do with things like the love, kindness, and compassion a person receives and gives in life. And the amount of light and truth a person finds and accepts makes a big difference too.

    Very much so. True, extreme poverty where people are dying as a result changes this equation, and extreme relative poverty makes people unhappy, but absolute poverty does not seem to stop them from being happy.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — May 4, 2006 @ 4:54 am

  47. It would take hours to read through and address everything I’m seeing, so I’ll just address the biggest problem I see in your MMP model: Eternal Family.

    Think of it, an eternal marriage occurs here, then another on E+1, +2, +3, and so on. Unless by some miracle they marry the same person in every life (what are the odds?) then you’ll not only have a husband with multiple wives, which the scriptures indicate does happen in some cases, like Jacob, or Israel, (though definitely not all) but also a wife with multiple husbands, which the scriptures indicate canNOT happen in eternity. For the sake of the concept, though, we’ll pretend it could. When we reach the final stage, what confusion will reign in trying to determine who’s an eternal companion to whom. That is one REALLY tangled web, unless you suggest some sort of eternal free-love society, which defeats the purpose OF marriage in the first place.

    Comment by cal — February 20, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

  48. You’re right cal — MMP throws a kink in modern conceptions of eternal nuclear and extended family. My take is that actual sealing of couples and others family members only happens upon exaltation anyway though. Until both members of a couple are exalted together they are not eternally sealed as one. (That solves your multiple eternal spouses question at least).

    Comment by Geoff J — February 20, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  49. I find this theory very interesting.

    Could you point me to where in the scriptures it says that as you put it in 1b., “In this life they scriptures say a third part of the folks here choose not to follow God and to be wicked. (The unrepentant murderers, liars, adulters, etc known as the Telestial group)”.

    Are you referring to something different from Revelation 12?

    Comment by Clay Holland — April 15, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

  50. Not sure if this helps, but I found this: http://www.nauvoo.com/ubb/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=000198

    Interesting stuff. Not sure if it advances the MMP view or not, however.

    Comment by Anon — April 17, 2012 @ 1:25 am

  51. “If one is allowed multiple probations until he/she gets it right then an atonement is unnecessary. You merely work it out for yourself. On the other hand if the atonement has any affect then multiple probations are unnecessary because Christ has atoned for and forgiven the shortcomings which then become no longer a problem.

    Multiple probations is a works-only doctrine that feeds right into reincarnation and a denial of the efficacy of the atonement.”

    Comment by Log — April 21, 2012 @ 10:47 am

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