Why preaching the highly questionable notion of no progression between kingdoms might be a good idea
About a week ago I posted insisting that there must be progression between kingdoms of glory or God is not the loving parent we think of him as. When the discussion thread there exceeded 100 comments I wrote a follow-up post to continue that discussion and to issue a challenge for someone to provide a better model of the eternities than my favorite model. The discussion in that thread has been very informative too. In this post I want to recap the three main positions that have been argued (as I understand them) and point to reasons to reject some models and accept others.
Model 1: My Turn on Earth with NO progression between kingdoms
Yeah, I know that some people like to call this the “classic” model, but I like to call it the My Turn on Earth model because I think it is a bit rudimentary and incomplete as commonly discussed. The basics of the My Turn of Earth model include the idea that we existed prior to the life (some believe forever as spirits, others believe forever as proto-spirits called “intelligences” and more recently as spirits, still other believe that we are instead composed of beginningless parts), God eventually decided we were ready for a “final exam” so he sent us all here to get bodies (after banishing a third part of his own children to outer darkness forever for rebellion, of course), and based on this final exam we all will receive a judgment that will place us in some kingdom of lesser or greater glory. The key is that people in the MToE no-progression camp hold that once that judgment is handed down there is no escaping our assigned kingdom for all eternity.
Model 2: My Turn on Earth with progression between kingdoms
Proponents of this variation accept the basic components of the My Turn on Earth model but reject the notion that assignments to kingdoms of glory are permanent. They believe that repentance and progression remain possible after final judgment in this life.
Model 3: Multiple mortal probations (which includes progression between kingdoms)
This model assumes that the pre-existence of humankind consisted of previous mortal probations like this one on the innumerable inhabited planets spoken of in modern revelation and that the post mortal kingdoms will consist of further mortal probations for all except those who are exalted or who retrogress to the point of “the destruction of the soul”. This is clearly the most radical of the models discussed and is objectionable to many based on that radical nature alone. Other objections include the model’s conflict with the idea of permanent resurrection that Amulek seemed to be teaching.
My Take on these models
Model 1: I argued aggressively against this model in my post from last week. I think it is utterly untenable in light of what we know about God and humankind through modern revelations. Rather than recap that here I recommend you check that post called “Why the idea of permanent judgment is a crock” out.
Model 2: This is the model I want to mostly address in this post. In some ways I fear this model is far more dangerous than Model 1. Based on the long discussions we had after my post late last week, it appears that for many the assumption is that each of the kingdoms of glory are glorious beyond description and that they are filled with repentant and glorious people. Further, the assumption is that everyone there retains a bright recollection of their mortal lives, their pre-mortal lives, and the judgment they received after this life. So basically, in this model everyone apparently sees things as they really are. As such they all fully realize and comprehend that wickedness never was happiness. Further, since they now have perfected bodies they are freed from the temptations that “conceiveth in their hearts” as a result of being here in mortality. But in Model 2 they are free to repent and progress upwardly through kingdoms as well. So basically you have all of the inhabitants of the earth seeing things as they really are and having zero obstacles to progressing between kingdoms in this model. They are rational and sentient beings and all sentient beings desire more happiness and joy so it seems to me that repentance and progression would be inevitable in such a scenario. How long would it take to drain all of the lower kingdoms and have 100% of those people exalted in such a model? My guess is it would take no time at all.
So essentially Model 2 paints a picture of eternity where sin here would at worst cost someone 1000 years in hell (and that would suck of course) but then offers essentially a nearly free ride to exaltation after that. Now while a 1000 years in hell ought to discourage egregious sin, it may not be enough for some people. Further, if one was disposed to egregious sin one could justify “living it up” now in such a model and paying later with the essential assurance that exaltation was around the corner no matter what. A worse problem is that this model provides essentially zero incentive to avoid mediocrity in this life. What value is there to being any better than simply Terrestrial bound “honorable men of the earth” with such a model of eternity? I mean it assumes that the not-egregiously-wicked but also not-valiant of the earth will be part of the first resurrection, will see things as they really are on the other side of the veil, and will have no obstacles to repenting and moving toward exaltation once they get there! If that is not an invitation to take it easy here in mortality I don’t know what is.
So therefore, since Model 2 provides so much less incentive to repent in this life, I think it would be preferable to preach Model 1 of the two (even though I openly think Model 1 is a crock).
Model 3: One of the reasons I like Model 3 is that it avoids the things that make Model 1 untenable but also provides huge incentives and motivation to repent here and now. I explained why it avoids the Model 1 pitfalls in the post last week. It avoids the pitfalls of Model 2 and provides incentive to repent now because it says that if we do not repent improve our characters in our time here we will have to live another mortal probation on another planet in worse conditions that we have here. I don’t care who you are – life can be very difficult and the prospect of living again in worse circumstances than we have here is a very unappealing idea. Further, for Mormons there is incentive to repent and improve our personal relationship with God to the point of exaltation now because only then will we be eternally sealed to our spouses. The temple covenants offer a conditional seal to spouses and only through continually repenting and improving and living up to our promises to God can we receive the promises he has made in return. God offers us all that he has, but only on the condition that we give him all that we have and are.
Any paradigm or model of the eternities that is worth teaching must provide ample incentive to repent now. Therefore, while I believe that Model 3 is by far the best of the models discussed here recently I would preach Model 1 before I would preach Model 2 any day.
(Next time – Why Model 2 is impossible anyway…)