Why the idea of permanent judgment is a crock

May 2, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 11:59 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Scriptures,Theology

Don asked some good questions over a Nine Moons today. In the comments he asked: “What’s wrong with permanent judgment? It seems like we are all a bunch of “scaredy cats” looking for a way out of what we deserve.” This post is my response to his interesting question.

I am convinced that the idea of permanent judgment is just untenable in Mormon doctrine. I think that this arises from our rejection of creation ex nihilo (aka creation out of nothing) as much as anything else. Mormon doctrine holds that in one way or another all of us are co-eternal with God. We were not created out of nothing as creedal Christianity asserts. Further, Mormonism preaches a robust form of free will – a free will that I believe mankind has always had and cannot lose. On top of that, Mormons take the title “Father in Heaven” very literally – more so than any other religion I know of. When we sing “I am a child of God” we really mean it.

So that gives us a picture of humankind being beginningless (whether we are beginningless in current form or are made up of beginningless parts is not a settled question), of the same “kind” as God, considered children of God and as such loved by God as his own, and eternally free to choose. Therefore, we Mormons take comparisons between our loving earthly parent-child relationships to our relationship with God very literally. Of course Christ himself used similar comparisons:

11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
(Luke 11: 11-13)

So here are my responses to Don’s question about what is wrong with permanent judgment:

Loving Parent?

Would you ever permanently shun your own children? If we live forever then what kind of parent would cast off their own child forever if there was a chance that child might change and return? Certainly not the God I worship.

The 1/3 misconception

Now some might claim that God knows we never would repent so consignment to outer darkness or Telestial glory forever is understandable. First, we have shown at painfully great length here that foreknowledge is incompatible with robust free will. But independent of that fact is the problem of the reported 1/3 of God’s children who many believe have already been permanently discarded and assigned to hell with Satan for all eternity before even getting a chance to come here. What? So our loving God already dumped 1/3 of us and will never allow them another chance, even if they use their free will to repent? That’s not the God I worship either. As Don pointed out in his post, if God foreknew that they would never repent then he also foreknows which of us here are outer darkness bound so why bother sending that bunch here to begin with?

What about the repentant Telestial souls?

This free will issue is also the reason that there is no such thing as permanent kingdom assignments. I have already posted on progression between kingdoms and on what I consider to be the ridiculous notion of some Telestial penal planet somewhere in the universe for all of the bad people of this world to live on forever with the permanent bodies they will get in the second resurrection. It sounds like some bad Star Trek episode where there is a planet of immortals stuck together forever – especially since these are all the awful murderers, rapists, child abusers, and whatnot from here. What keeps them from starting a space program and leaving? And more importantly, what happens when they use their free will to repent? What happens when they pray to their Heavenly Father? Has he made his mind up to eternally shun them based on 40 years of screwing up on this planet? That is not the God I worship.

Innumerable discarded and abandoned other families?

The other issue is what became of the inhabitants of the innumerable inhabited worlds that came before ours? Were they just batches of God’s other children that got one chance and most of whom were discarded forever as well? That just doesn’t work for me. Regardless of how many persons make up the unified One God in the eternities, loving parents don’t abandon children.

My preferred solution

Anyone who has been hanging around here for any length of time know that I think the best solution to all of these problems is the model preached by Heber C. Kimball and many of his contemporaries called multiple mortal probations. If Heber and friends were right then there are no separate batches of children that are discarded after every planet but there is only one batch and it is us. We lived there and progressed or retrogressed to the station we have in this life. If we become enough like God we can transform into a being like him and become one with the Godhead and enter that rest. Heber’s model solves the issue of the permanent penal planets. It provides means to find an explanation of why the 1/3 prior to this planet missed this probation (I have a theory of my own on that here). Most importantly it does not paint God as a harsh being who willingly discards his own free-willed children forever despite the ongoing chance that they might “come to themselves” and return to him as did the prodigal son in the parable.

As a final thought on my assertion that there are no permanent kingdoms; our scriptures make it clear that Celestial beings also eternally retain their free will and if God himself were to choose wickedness he would cease to be God. Sure these sorts of radical ideas get us in trouble with creedal Christianity, but if it’s true it’s true. I think the trouble we get ourselves into is trying to overlay creedal doctrines onto the foundation of the restored gospel. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. In my opinion, the notion of permanent judgment is one example of a doctrine that just doesn’t jibe with the restored gospel.

110 Comments »

  1. I totally agree, Geoff. Eternal damnation for a few years of sin flies in the face of everything I believe about God. Trouble is though, the “creedal” heaven/hell/eternal damnation idea can be found in the Book of Mormon, so you’re going to have to tell us why we should take HCK (and common sense) over the BoM.

    Comment by Ronan — May 3, 2006 @ 5:41 am

  2. Nice post.

    I disagree with most of it, but will need to take some time to articulate it.

    But well stated.

    Comment by Eric — May 3, 2006 @ 5:43 am

  3. Intriguing, Geoff. While I happen to agree that permanent judgment doesn’t make sense, I wonder if you go too far to call the idea untenable. I mean, it may not be something “the God [you (or I)] worship” does, but the God others in the Church worship (perhaps, arguably, Moses’s and Joseph Smith’s, too?) seems potentially capable of it. :)

    I hadn’t heard about Heber C Kimball’s multiple probations idea, though. Thanks for introducing me to it. It sounds suspiciously Buddhist (Eastern generally, really) to me, and I’m always interested in those kinds of correlations. I’ll have to read up about it.

    Comment by LoganB — May 3, 2006 @ 5:46 am

  4. Holy crap — I was totally undercut! (Let me just take this opportunity to say that it looks like Eric’s and the BoM’s God could totally pull this off too! ;) )

    Comment by LoganB — May 3, 2006 @ 5:48 am

  5. Oh, (sorry not to consolidate all these, but) now that others have spoken up and we’re choosing teams, let me reiterate the idea that I actually agree with Geoff that permanent judgment is a crock!

    Comment by LoganB — May 3, 2006 @ 5:50 am

  6. That is not the God I worship.

    This rhetoric is problematic as Logan notes above. It is something I heard occasionally as a missionary when people would say, “Your god is the brother of Satan and that’s not the god I worship.” It requires God to fit into the mode of what we want to worship rather than forcing us to worship the true god.

    In your post, you mentioned that you reject the idea that people will “live on forever with the permanent bodies they will get in the second resurrection.” On what basis do you reject the notion of a permanent resurrection? Or do you instead reject the idea that we are resurrected with different types of bodies? (I could more easily buy into the latter.) That we receive different bodies seems to be implied in the differing glories that those resurrected bodies will have.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — May 3, 2006 @ 6:49 am

  7. Geoff, you may want to re-read Alma 42 as it was written to address this very concern.

    Comment by HP — May 3, 2006 @ 8:23 am

  8. Geoff:

    The overall problem I think I see in this is when does it end? Do you believe that everyone will be exalted if they are simply given enough time and probations?

    If God says after 1000 mortal probaltions, ‘enough is enough, you just are not Celestial material. Sorry.’ Would that satisfy you? If not 1000, then 1,000,000? More? If 1000, why not 100? Why not 10? Why not 1?

    It seems the main reason to reject a permanent judgement after a single probation is if you do not believe God is able to execute a righteous perfect judgement.

    Also, I think we are forgetting about the pre-existence. We existed for eternity as intelligences, and for possibly a vastly long time as spirit children. We had free will at that time, and were described at least by Abraham (if not God himself) as being Nobel and Great prior to coming to earth. Christ himself became of godhood status prior to coming to earth. You were probably awful close :). All this comes into who we have become, and will be part of our judgment. It is not just base on 72.8 years of a mortal probation but on everything up to this point. That is potentially a lot of information in the hands of a God.

    The whole child abandonment thing seems a little ‘ideal’ to me. I love my kids as much as the next guy. But I can imagine a long pattern of exteem evil behavior on the part of a child that would drive any righteous parent to the point of abandonment. At least a child who should be old enough to know better and take care of themselves to some level.

    Comment by Eric — May 3, 2006 @ 8:44 am

  9. Regarding the BoM -

    I actually reread Alma 42 twice this weekend, HP. My resolve on this subject was strengthened and not weakened. (Ain’t exegesis fun?)

    I think it essentially a surety that in 1828 Joseph Smith firmly believed in permanent judgment. Theologically he was still a product of creedal Christianity at that point, having been deeply indoctrinated in their worldview his entire life (even though God had begun speaking with him directly by then). The Book of Mormon came to us through the 1828 version of him and it is no surprise to me that some of his paradigm shows up in the wording of the translation.

    But I don’t think that in 1844 Joseph Smith believed in permanent judgment though. He had received more light and truth in his years as a prophet and as a result shed most of his inaccurate former paradigm of God and replaced it with a more accurate view — one that I believe rejects the notion of permanent judgment.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  10. Eric,
    You seem to be basing your ideas on the assumption that at some point we’re “done”. As if everything leads up to the point in which God puts a crown on our head and says “you’re in.” I don’t think the CK or heaven or whatever is a place but rather a state of being. And if we look at it that way then what Geoff is saying makes a bit more sense. At least to me.

    Comment by Rusty — May 3, 2006 @ 8:55 am

  11. Geoff, several commenters have already pointed out why your rhetoric is plain faulty. “Not the God you worship.” Fine. You have sepperated yourself from the body of the Church.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 3, 2006 @ 8:55 am

  12. Rusty and Geoff:

    So are you saying there is no judgment?

    Comment by Eric — May 3, 2006 @ 8:59 am

  13. Eric,

    If we have free will then we can move in either direction, so it seems we are all moving toward exaltation OR destruction. This is why the question of whhich parts of us are eternal is so important. It seems to me that Orson Pratt might have been moving in the right direction when he suggested that we are made up of beginningless parts. If that is the case we are like “snowball of light and intelligence” either gathering more or losing the stuff along the way. I posted on this perplexing questions here and here.

    If God says after 1000 mortal probaltions, ‘enough is enough, you just are not Celestial material. Sorry.’ Would that satisfy you?

    When would you decide to throw in the towel forever on your own son? If he remained less than what you hoped for 1000 days would you say “enough is enough, you just are not Eric-worthy material. Sorry.”? I think the parable of the prodigal son tells us that as long as we all exist God will always accept the repentant child back into his embrace. However, he can never force us to repent and love him.

    It seems the main reason to reject a permanent judgement after a single probation is if you do not believe God is able to execute a righteous perfect judgement.

    Actually I do think God can perfectly judge. I just think that permanent consignment is incompatible with a perfect judgment and therefore is not what God does.

    I love my kids as much as the next guy. But I can imagine a long pattern of extreme evil behavior on the part of a child that would drive any righteous parent to the point of abandonment.

    I agree with this — at least in the temporary sense. And God himself does not allow his spirit to be with his own children that do wickedly. But what about the repentant child? What about the prodigal son? The permanent judgment doctrine is directly contradictory to the parable of the prodigal son. It says that there comes a point that God just no longer loves his own children even if they do “come to themselves” and repent and change and humbly beg for forgiveness from their own father. Don’t you think that is a serious theological snag?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 9:06 am

  14. But independent of that fact is the problem of the reported 1/3 of God’s children who many believe have already been permanently discarded and assigned to hell with Satan for all eternity before even getting a chance to come here. What? So our loving God already dumped 1/3 of us and will never allow them another chance, even if they use their free will to repent?

    Didn’t they discard themselves by their own free will and choice? God can’t make them be something they don’t want to be.

    Comment by C Jones — May 3, 2006 @ 9:08 am

  15. Stapley – Geoff, several commenters have already pointed out why your rhetoric is plain faulty. “Not the God you worship.” Fine. You have sepperated yourself from the body of the Church.

    Cute. So you are saying that the body of the church does worship a heartless god who is unwilling to forgive and accept his own repentant and penitent prodigal children even after a long time?

    Wrong. Not only is that idea about God wrong but the assertion that the body of the church believes that is wrong.

    Eric – So are you saying there is no judgment?

    If free will remains with us then judgment is a constant and everpresent thing, not a final and conclusive event. If this were not true then God could not cease to be God either — but He can.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 9:12 am

  16. C Jones – Didn’t they discard themselves by their own free will and choice? God can’t make them be something they don’t want to be.

    True. They freely chose to be prodigal children. The question at hand is what will God do when some of them “come to themselves” and repent and humbly beg their father for another chance. The doctrine of permanent judgment asserts that God will coldly ignore those children forever. I think that is false.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  17. Geoff,
    Obviously, I am interested in your exegesis of Alma 42 as your reading seems counter-intuitive to the message of Alma to Corianton in that chapter (setting aside how Joseph may have interpreted it in translation). I agree that Joseph’s understanding evolved over time, but I don’t think he ever said that Alma was flat-out wrong. Please give me a clue regarding where you are coming from. I only ask because, it seems to me, that the face-value reading of Alma 42 seems to lead to a loving God who doles out eternal punishment (and I know that we could use the D&C 19 definition, but I don’t think that this is necessary). Alma admits that this looks confusing from the get-go and goes on to try to explain it. I think he succeeds, but I am curious as to your interpretation regarding what is going on here.

    Comment by HP — May 3, 2006 @ 9:29 am

  18. HP,

    I think that Alma 42 is best uderstood as an explanation of the Law of the Harvest — we reap what we sow and that is just. The basic message is that eventually we all get what we deserve. That is an important doctrinal message. I don’t see how Alma 42 would preclude the possibility of a damned soul “coming to himself” and repenting in the eternities to come though. (If that is the case then one would have to explain to me why we stop “sowing” after this life.) I posted last May on the idea that Lucifer himself could probably repent if you chose to.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 9:42 am

  19. I commented on Don’s post as well.

    I do not think judgement is permanent.

    I do believe that we can progress between the kingdoms.

    I do believe that individuals have the choice to not progress, but can change their minds and later join the porcess.

    I do not believe in multiple mortal probations. It seems to wishy washy to me. For one, I believe that my personality, the essence of who I am, is eternal. Imagine how screwed up I would be if I had to go through a veil a number of times and loose that self identity each time (though my wife might argue that I am already screwed up). I feel that this life is a time to discover our eternal nature, and learn from our experiences and the experiences of others. That will be enough to inform us to whether we want to progress or not.

    I believe it will be a lot of hard work, and be very humbling for anybody to progress.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — May 3, 2006 @ 10:43 am

  20. Geoff
    First off I am new to the LDS blog universe and I am having a wonderful time reading and participation in active theological thought.
    This post addresses one of my favorite subjects of study and contemplation, Agency. Your thoughts in this post run quite parallel to my own (be that good or bad) and I want to thank you for your well worded thoughts.

    Comment by Dyslexic Mystic — May 3, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  21. Geoff, I can see that in Alma 41, but the Atonement and the Law of the Harvest are not natural fits. After all, which of us earns or deserves redemption? If we all will truly reap what we sow, we are all damned.

    That said, I don’t believe that God is going to cast us all out either. As you know, I believe that this will all be straightened out in the millenium/judgment period (as do you, if I remember correctly (we just understand those terms differently)).

    Comment by HP — May 3, 2006 @ 10:55 am

  22. Gilgamesh,

    Thanks for the comment. So I have a few questions for you: How do you reconcile the other questions that arise from rejecting the MMP model — namely, where do resurrected Telestial and Terrestrial people live for eternity while they retain the possibility to progress between kingdoms? If a resurrected and immortal Telestial person living in a Telestial “kingdom” (again, since they have bodies like ours they can’t be floating through space so I would assume that would be on an immortal Telestial planet somewhere) did repent and was ready to progress to a higher kingdom, how would that happen? A shuttle or something? They obviously can’t die and get a Terrestrial resurrected body but Paul indicated that resurrected bodies come in different levels of glory. How does a person with a permanent Telestial body fit in with those with Terrestrial or Celestial resurrected bodies? Further, if there are innumerable planets that have already passed what has become of those batches of God’s children in their resurrected states? Further, if we are all beginningless then why did our batch end up on this planet and not a previous or later planet? Further, do you think the batches were somehow separated from each other for all eternity even though we are presumably all children of the same God?

    I’m not trying to pick on you, but it seems to me that if you are going to accept progression between kingdoms and non-permanent judgment then there are some real problems reconciling the later teaching of Joseph with a single mortal probation model of eternity.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 11:01 am

  23. HP – I agree that the Law of the Harvest does not jibe well with common understandings of the Atonement. (We have been discussing the atonement at some length here recently.) I think that we understand the Law of the Harvest correctly, so if our conceptions of the atonement don’t fit with that then I think it is safe to assume we might not be accurately understanding the atonement. I believe this is the most likely answer and I think it mostly has to do with borrowing too many of our ideas on the atonement from creedal Christianity.

    Dyslexic Mystic – Welcome to the Thang and to the bloggernacle. Your new blog looks very interesting. I’m always happy when someone else is interested in talking about Mormon theology and not just history and culture.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  24. I think I have to side more with Eric on this discussion. It appears that too much of the question of judgement is based on our earth life. Geoff says: “Has he made his mind up to eternally shun them based on 40 years of screwing up on this planet? That is not the God I worship.” I don’t think it’s the earth life question. It’s the eternity question. We existed before this earth life for how long? Some (at least one) were so “good” there that they became a God. Some so good that they came to earth and left without any earthlife per se. How do we justify those who died before accountability becoming Celestialized? (Geoff it seems to me would say…based on his earthlife before this earthlife).

    One of my big questions is how does a Telestial resurrected body which is spirit and body inseparetely connected become seperated and start over again as a spirit and then get resurrected later with a different resurrected body?

    The difference between our judgements for our kids and our love for our kids is it isn’t a perfect love or perfect judgement. Can I truly believe that God loves me with a perfect love and then reject His perfect judgment of me? “I’m sorry God, you’ve judged me thru 100,000 earth probations and you still don’t have it right….give me another chance.”

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 11:10 am

  25. “I think that we understand the Law of the Harvest correctly”

    What is it exactly that gives you this impression? It is my experience that most people are unclear regarding what they understand this to be, so I am interested in your approach. Again, if we operate under the assumption that we get back what we give, we are all damned, aren’t we?

    Comment by HP — May 3, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  26. If there is no FINAL judgment, then all judgments are temporary. So let’s all eat drink and be merry, we’ll all get beaten with a few stripes and then be saved in the end. Sounds like a great program to me…but I think someone else already presented that program and I rejected it.

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  27. Oh, and by the way Geoff, you beat me to the gun on this post. I was thinking of posting on this myself…but you have done a far better job than I would have and I really do appreciate your perspective.

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 11:24 am

  28. It’s interesting to hear the Telestial Kingdom – who’s glory defies all understanding (D&C 76) – described as a penal colony. I really don’t have a problem with progression between kingdoms (certainly Talmage thought it was possible), but I seriously doubt many will take advantage of it. I mean, look around, do you see a lot of people earnestly seeking to “be all that they can be”? I’ve always thought that the Terrestrial Kingdom looks like a pretty nice place; plenty of glory but without the pressure of the Celestial Kingdom and the disfunctionals who are in the Telestial Kindom. And I hear they have nice socials there too.

    Comment by larryco_ — May 3, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  29. Geoff, I applaud you for your willingness to duke this one out.

    Although I gave you a hard time about the “that’s not the God I worship” thing, I do think that people’s personal experiences and relationships with God greatly color their views on this topic. I think the texts you’ve pointed to can bear your (and my) reading of them, but they don’t necessarily exclude the more traditional reading.

    Your relationship with God (i.e., “the God you worship”) is therefore what you use to help you interpret the scriptures. To persuade Eric, Don, and others here, you’d have to alter the whole paradigm they use to view their relationship with God.

    In other words, what a person believes about MMPs and permanent judgments is derivative of other values and beliefs; I don’t think discussing this point specifically is enough to get at the underlying reasons people believe one way or another. But again, I applaud your efforts.

    Comment by Logan — May 3, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  30. My last post didn’t take. I’ll try it again.

    Geoff: are you basically saying that you feel that final judgement is an eternal process other than a singular event?

    I have always taken the resurrection and final judgment as going hand-in-hand. It would seem that if someone believed final judgment was an eternal process than the resurrection would be a process also?

    If this is the case (which I do not believe), then why the need for MMP? Why could we not just start out as resurrected beings? Why any mortality? This whole thing seems like a wishy-washy attempt at avoiding the final judgement.

    I also agree with larryco that lower kingdoms are kingdoms of great reward that would be viewed as better than many people think heaven will be like.

    Comment by Eric — May 3, 2006 @ 11:41 am

  31. Eric and Don: are you basically saying that you feel that final judgement is an eternal process other than a singular event?

    Yes. In Mormonism, God the Father (who used to be a man) can cease to be God. Therefore there is no necessarily final station for any being that retains free will.

    Eric: It would seem that if someone believed final judgment was an eternal process than the resurrection would be a process also?

    Or a recurring process in the MMP model. That process stops once one is exalted (unless that person makes wrong choices and ceases to be god I suppose…)

    Don: So let’s all eat drink and be merry, we’ll all get beaten with a few stripes and then be saved in the end.

    Wickedness never was happiness. MMP doesn’t not change that fact. And persons can progress or retrogress to begin with so there is anything but a guarantee of progress and exaltation. Righteousness and happiness and relationship with God must be freely chosen.

    Eric: then why the need for MMP?

    What need? That model just happens to be the best explanation I have found to the issues in the post and the issues I raised in #22. I am anxiously awaiting someone showing me a more accurate model. As soon as that happens I’ll abandon the whole MMP concept.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  32. Larry_co,

    Earth is a Telestial planet. Its glory and beauty does defy all understanding. That fact does not mean that there are no miserable wicked people here. That does not mean that there are no prisons here. The difference between earth and this alleged Planet of the Telestials is that we are here temporarily and then we die whereas they are supposedly on their planet forever. Considering how quickly we learned how to trash our planet I can only imagine what a planet filled with the immortal reprobates from here would look like after the first, say, 20,000 years…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

  33. Logan,

    Thanks. I have obviously taken a pretty inflammatory rhetorical stand with this post. Sometimes it’s fun to rattle a few cages. Having said that, I think my position is correct and that most Mormons are laboring under creedal assumptions that just don’t work in light of the additional information that Joseph gave us.

    Y’all are of course right about the me using loaded phrases like “that’s not the God I worship”. That is the same ploy anti’s use when they attack Mormonism in general. In one sense there is truth to it — we don’t worship a being without body, parts, or passions. But the rub comes when deciding what the scriptures are referring to when they talk about God.

    It seems to me that the logic I have persented is pretty solid. I am surprised that no one has yet attacked the premises I set out in the post though. If someone doesn’t agree with my conclusions I would think they should either reject the premises I base them on or show why the conclusions I draw do not follow from the premises.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

  34. “I’m not trying to pick on you, but it seems to me that if you are going to accept progression between kingdoms and non-permanent judgment then there are some real problems reconciling the later teaching of Joseph with a single mortal probation model of eternity.”

    I don’t feel picked on – I just don’t know the answers. But I am leaning more toward a belief that there are not necessarily different planets that we live on. I am comfortable with the belief that we can all be together after resurrection, with some progressing and others not – that our punishment is internal and self imposed due to a rechoning of our desires and choices, not a physical seperation on a different planet. I also envision that our eternal lives will be at work -in the creative process – much likean Air Force bomber squad might look. The pilot (celetial being) has a flight crew (terestrial) and a ground crew (telestial). All are part of the over all creative process, and those who desire to do the work will move up in the ranks. There will be those that choose not to work or progress – and this is where I may agree with your MMP scenario. But only for those that have lost all potential to progress as the individual that they are – they would regress back to the intelligence phase and redevlope their identity and personality into a new being. So my disagreement comes as this – I do not believe that my identity will undergo multiple probations. – If I did go through this again, it would be the same eternal “substance” but the identifying factors of my personhood would be stripped and removed so I, as me, would cease to exist.

    Comment by Gilgamesh — May 3, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  35. Geoff, can you address the problems as I see them with a resurrected body becoming un-resurrected so it can go thru another probation? Where do you get the “doctrine” that something the scriptures say is “inseparably connected” can be separated?

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

  36. Geoff, do I mis-understand the Church’s position found on lds.org: “The final judgment that will occur after the resurrection. God, through Jesus Christ, will judge each person to determine the eternal glory he will receive. This judgment will be based on each person’s obedience to God’s commands, including his acceptance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” When does final not mean final and when does eternal glory not mean for a very very very long time?

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  37. Don: Where do you get the “doctrine” that something the scriptures say is “inseparably connected” can be separated?

    Well, largely from Heber C. Kimball and other 19th century apostles and prophets. But that subject has been discussed at some length in previous posts. I can understand why that would be an insurmountable sticking point for some people though.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  38. Don,

    I think that a PR-related statement on lds.org is hardly the place to determine esoteric theological truths. Having said that, I think it is mostly accurate. One problem I see with it though is that Paul indicates that we will receive our Telestial, Terrestrial, or Celestial bodies in the resurrection. If we already have been assigned to kingdoms, what final judging will be left to do after that?

    when does eternal glory not mean for a very very very long time?

    See section 19. There God reveals that “eternal” can describe a quality and not a duration of time at all.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

  39. Gilgamesh,

    I think that you are moving in a profitable direction when you start bringing up the issues of personal identity in the eternities. I posted on that a few months ago as well.

    I would still be pleased if anyone could suggest a model that answers the questions I have posed that does not include MMPs though. I catch plenty of heat for admitting that MMP seems to answer these questions (in the post and in #22) the best so far, but if I could be shown a less controversial model that works better it would save me some hassle…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

  40. I suspect, but obviously cannot prove, that one`s confidence in a theory such as this is most probably linked to an individuals own view concerning their current relation and standing before God.

    Ask me on a bad day and I would certainly favour this doctrine and want to believe it.

    Ask me on the last day of my mission however, and I would be horrified, thinking as I then did that two years service would at least guarantee a small corner in the celestial kingdom for ever and ever, and that only those as dedicated as I should inherit the same (arrogant and naïve I know).

    One genuine question I would like an answer to, for those who go for this theory: does it cause you to repent of any wrongdoings sooner or later, or neither? My fear is that it can only increase our natural inclination to procrastinate.

    I mention this only because it is when I have something to feel bad about that I want to believe this, or similar theories, the most.

    Rich H.

    Comment by R.D.H. — May 3, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  41. Lol!

    So Rich… You’re saying that wicked people think an MMP model makes sense and righteous people go for permanent judgment?? That is a hoot. (Ridiculous, but a hoot nonetheless.) What’s wrong with seeking to understand the way things really work in the universe and over the eternities?

    In answer to your question, I suspect that one major reason that this formerly (somewhat) popular model (MMP that is) is almost never discussed now is the fear that people will procrastinate their repentance. I think this is misguided logic though. The goal of life is to strengthen our personal relationship with God and to love others better. Doing so brings us happiness (we sow love for God and others and we reap love and joy in return) and refusing to love God and others is one of the definitions of wickedness, and wickedness never was happiness. So the model of MMP seems to be unrelated to our motivation to love God and others to me. We do that which we want to do either way and if we are simply trying to follow “the rules” out of fear of a final judgment we aren’t really achieving the purpose of our life to begin with (to become one with God in a loving relationship with him) and thus are blowing it anyway. I think many such people (in the church and out) will be the ones to whom this passage applies:

    22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    Of course another reason not to talk about it in official capacities is it freaks some people out and that is bad for PR… (I’m just a no name weirdo blogger after all so nobody pays attention to me rambling about these sorts of things!)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  42. Looks like I missed a couple of comments that deserve responses. (They came in quickly this morning…)

    HP (#25): What is it exactly that gives you this impression [That we basically understand the Law of the Harvest]? It is my experience that most people are unclear regarding what they understand this to be, so I am interested in your approach.

    The Law of the Harvest describes several basic principles in the universe, including Newton’s Third Law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It simply describes the notion that there are causes for many things in the universe. Among those things is that loving and nurturing relationships (like the one we are asked to have with God) between eternal beings generate joy and happiness for those in the relationship. We are beginningless and it seems to me that there was never a time when loving one another and mutually seeking the self-fulfillment of others was not a good thing that brought joy to those in such nurturing relationships. Blake Ostler spends a great deal of time on this idea in his new book and I think he is correct. I’ll cover this more in my future posts on his book.

    Again, if we operate under the assumption that we get back what we give, we are all damned, aren’t we?

    No, we can’t assume that if we get what we give we are damned. God offers us a loving relationship with Him (this is the primary manifestation of his grace in the world as Ostler aptly points out) and if we give our hearts and love back to him then we do not deserve damnation, we deserve to reap the love for God that we sowed. His grace is seen in his loving us first so that we could respond in kind to that love. Exaltation is becoming so close in a loving relationship with God that we become one with the Godhead (as Jesus prayed would happen in John 17).

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  43. “”For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” ”

    I do not think that means what you think it means. Don’t the opposing forces in Newtonian physics seek to return the system to stasis?

    “It simply describes the notion that there are causes for many things in the universe.”

    This seems like this is a weird way to go with this to me. You don’t seem to be saying that everything has a cause. But strict libertarian free will would say that causes outside of ourself are impossible, right? So that would mean that there are two classes of things: those which act and those which are acted upon. Is that where you were going with this? If so, I am not sure as to the connection with the Law of the Harvest. Could you clarify?

    “No, we can’t assume that if we get what we give we are damned. God offers us a loving relationship with Him (this is the primary manifestation of his grace in the world as Ostler aptly points out) and if we give our hearts and love back to him then we do not deserve damnation, we deserve to reap the love for God that we sowed.”

    You aren’t addressing what I said. You are addressing the proposition: “If we give to God what we are given…”. That is an entirely different ball of wax.

    Comment by HP — May 3, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  44. Geoff, in your model how and who becomes the saviors for each of these multiple earths? Are we the only earth where the First born became the savior? Or do each of us get re-born as spirit children of the same Heavenly Father and there is a new first-born for each cycle? If we go thru this process of multiple earth experiences to finally become enough like our Heavenly Father that he will exalt us so we can truly become like Him, then what happened to Jesus? It seems logical to conclude that Jesus qualified on the last cycle, so what happened to him? Are we up for the same treatment?

    This is fun, your model brings as many questions to my mind as it does answers. But it is insightful to hear your take on things….thanks for taking the time.

    Comment by don — May 3, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

  45. Turn to Jesus and then you don’t have to worry about the judgment.

    Whether true or false, the “doctrine” of creation ex nihilo, refers to the physical creation of this mortal realm (akin to the big bang), before which there was no space, time or matter (in other words, nothing). It in no way negates a pre-mortal existence with G-d, because that existence is independent of our mortal realm.

    Comment by Steve EM — May 3, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  46. I apologize if this is too far off topic- that’s just the way my mind works :-)
    Geoff you said:

    if God himself were to choose wickedness he would cease to be God

    and your take on those scriptures that you linked to (that it is possible for God to cease to be God) seem to lay a large part of the foundation of your argument here and also with your MMP ideas.

    But when I read those same scriptures, I understand that phrase to be a rhetorical device, I take them them to mean just the opposite- that God has reached a state of being perfected and cannot choose wickedness or cease to be God. See here, here, and here. So am I misreading?

    Comment by C Jones — May 3, 2006 @ 6:25 pm

  47. HP,

    Your original point in #21 was that “the Atonement and the Law of the Harvest are not natural fits“. I think this is just inaccurate. I believe the atonement fits perfectly with the Law of the Harvest (and that it is easier to misunderstand the atonement than the Law of the Harvest).

    Here is what I mean about them fitting perfectly (and I am largely borrowing from Blake here): God, of his own free will chooses to love us and to extend to us a standing offer of reconciliation and relationship with him. Although we are currently here on earth with amnesia (having passed through a “veil of forgetfulness”) God still chooses to graciously love us and seek this relationship. Further, like the father described in the parable of the prodigal son, God’s gracious offer for a relationship with him will never, never, never be rescinded (worlds without end). God is not compelled to make this offer but he chooses to love us and to continually seek our embrace. This is grace. If this standing offer were to be rescinded we would be cut off forever, but God, like any loving parent here on earth, continues to offer and hope for our freely chosen return to loving relationship with him.

    So God of his own free will sows love and grace to his children. He reaps some of us accepting that offer.

    We the children, of our own free will choose on a moment by moment basis whether we will accept the relationship God is offering. We also choose the degree to which we enter that relationship. If we sow love in return to God (and to his other children) then we reap happiness and eventually exaltation and oneness with the Godhead.

    So God reaps what he sows and we reap what we sow. Thus the atonement is a perfect match with the Law of Harvest.

    Of course the Law of the Harvest can be applied in many other situations as well but I think this is the primary example as it applies to this discussion.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

  48. Geoff: I have a few questions about your view. First, is there only one resurrection, or many? Is it your view that we somehow shed our resurrected bodies and then have another probation and then resurrect again?

    How do you square your view with the resurrection? If our body is raised to the glory that quickens our bodies because we have lived the law that defines that glory, then is it that we cease to have that glory? Why would we do that?

    Why a mortal probation — I mean, do we always die at the end of the supposed mortal probation? And do we always undergo a probation? If so, what is the gain? Why go through it at all?

    Comment by Blake — May 3, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

  49. Don,

    I don’t know. We are clearly taught that Jesus was a God prior to coming here so if the MMP model is accurate then he was exalted long before our planet was created. The indication in Joseph’s last few sermons (KFD and Sermon in the Grove) is that the Father was a man like us on another planet but Joseph also indicated that the Father was also a savior on a previous planet. (Joseph focused on Jesus saying he was only doing what he saw his father do before him.) My guess is that our planet follows the same basic plot and pattern of all inhabitted planets and that each has a savior. Others draw different conclusions from these sermons though (I’ll post more on that later).

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

  50. Forgive this lengthy post, but I think people are throwing around ideas without at least trying to back it up with evidences. Even the thread in May, 2005 about Kingdom Progression didn’t pinpoint what I think are key evidences. In this post I want to ignore MMP or reincarnation and focus only on Kingdom Progression evidences.

    We know Elders McConkie and Fielding Smith were opposed to “Second Chance Theology.” Here are opposing or neutral quotations.

    “The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a
    definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.”
    -Secretary to the First Presidency in a 1952 letter; and again in 1965

    “None would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods … all others would have to inherit another kingdom … they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow process [progress?].”
    -Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff Journal, 5 Aug 1855

    “Once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but … the privilege of passing from one to another (though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters) is not provided for.”
    -Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 14:87 [November 1910]

    “I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come.”
    -J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3

    “It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.”
    –James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith [1899 edition] pp. 420-421

    Furthermore, we have the teachings of Brigham Young that the sons of perdition will be recycled (in outer darkness, called the mill, or the pit of hell). In other words their spirits will be destroyed or ground in the mill there and they will be reduced to mere intelligences (the way we were before we were born and clothed in spirit bodies). There they will remain supposedly for eons of time, until in the providence of God they will be called up to redo their mortal probation, after which they will inherit a kingdom of glory. (For references see JD 7:57; 2:124; I realize not all my assertions are discussed in those citations, but I’ve read more evidences in other JD quotes, and elsewhere that I can’t find in a quick Internet search).

    We have the evidences of higher kingdoms ministering to lower kingdoms (D&C 76: 86-88), wherein those of a lower order are called “heirs of salvation.”

    We have D&C 19:6-7. Verse 6 clearly states eternal punishment has a godly meaning, not in time duration. (Mormons aren’t the only ones who have suspected this; Frederick Farrar, author of the book on Christ that Talmage drew upon, believed in the “Wider Hope,” that punishment was not infinite in time – see article in Meridian Magazine on the subject.) More importantly, the Lord in vs. 7 says “Again, it is written eternal damnation;”. The Lord doesn’t finish the phrase, but I believe this clearly implies that eternity as pertaining to damnation (in other words blocked progression) also should be thought of as godly instead of infinite in time duration.

    Finally, we have the magnificent quote by Orson Whitney about the Prodigal Son (which I consider a beautiful unfolding of Prov. 22:6; and could we not exegete that verse in a divine perpective, wherein the father is our Heavenly Father and we are like the son?): “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving [mother's and] father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for [our] careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with [our] faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (General Conference,1929).

    Comment by cadams — May 3, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

  51. C Jones,

    I’m glad you asked about this. My take on this (and I was pleased to see that Blake Ostler expressed a very similar view in his first book) is that the term God is equivocal. In one sense it can refer to the unified “One Eternal God” that is the combination of the divine persons in the Godhead. In another sense each of the divine persons in the Godhead are fully divine and can also be referred to as “God” individually. So while I think is true that individual persons in the Godhead could choose wickedness and cease to be God, I think it is essentially not possible that all persons in the unified Godhead would do so. (Blake points out that perfectly rational beings would not choose to do things that make them miserable after all.) So I think that while the fact that all members of the Godhead retain their free will and it is logically possible that all would choose wickedness, it is not practically possible that such would happen. (I should note that while Blake thinks there are only 3 persons in the overall One-God/Godhead I think the evidence points to many more divine persons in that loving unity than that.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  52. Blake,

    Heber C. Kimball compared each mortal probation to a single day in our lives. He said dying is like going to sleep and being resurrected is like waking up in the morning. So from that it seems like the resurrection for all but the exalted is at the new birth. But then even exalted beings apparently can receive another mortal probation as the condescension of Christ proved so there are details I wonder about as well.

    Apparently Brigham taught that Jesus did have a physical body that he shed to come here though. Orson Pratt was not pleased with that idea (disclaimer: I got this from a Google search and have not confirmed the source):

    “another item, I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body, flesh and bones, before he came, he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.”
    -(Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of the Twelve in Historian’s upper room; Great Salt Lake City; April 5. 1860 10 a.m.)

    As to why mortal probations… It just seems to me that such is the pattern of the universe and progress or retrogression is best achieved through this method. That is the message I take from the temple endowment ceremony as well. I think Nibley was right when he called the temple “a scale model of the universe”.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  53. cadams,

    Thanks for the list of great quotes. I’m sure I’ll use some of those again in the future.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

  54. One thing going for Geoff’s theory is the possible mutability of resurrected bodies. I feel bound to accept, pending further prophetic utterance, that our spirits and bodies will be reunited, never again to be seperated. But Joseph Fielding Smith taught that “the bodies of little children will grow after the resurrection to the full stature of the spirit.” That means children will be resurrected as children and then grow to adulthood. That seems like quite a change for a resurrected body to go through. So I suppose that a resurrected body might be able to undergo a gradual change from a telestial to a celestial glory. For the record, I doubt that is the case, but I admit that the possibility seems open.

    Comment by Bradley Ross — May 3, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  55. Geoff-How do your theories of MMP’s and eternal progression square with eternal marriage? It seems you have worked out interesting theories of what happens to individuals, but what about couples? If I am sealed to my husband in this probation, and then we both die and are born into a new probation, what happened to our sealing? And if we can progress through kingdoms, what would happen if my husband progressed farther than me, would he leave me behind? Or must it be a joint effort?

    Comment by Katie — May 3, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

  56. Bradley – That is probably a safer route to take and I certainly don’t begrudge anyone taking that approach. Do you have any ideas about resolving the problems reconciling the later teaching of Joseph with a single mortal probation model of eternity? I know lots of people recoil at the MMP solution but I’ve never heard of a good alternative solution…

    Katie – I don’t really know the answers to your questions. This MMP model is just the best reconciliation of Joseph’s late-period teachings and my understanding of God’s loving character that I’ve come across so far so I am currently partial to it.

    My guess is that only couples who are exalted actually are sealed. That is how I understand the temple ordinances anyway — we are not actually sealed to our spouses, we promised certain blessings if we live up to every covenant we make in the temple. Couples who develop enough faith in Christ and a close enough relationship with God in this life to do that receive all of the blessings promised in the temple, including being exalted and sealed as couples. That, to me, is a LOT of incentive to get this probation right, keep all of my covenants, and develop a personal relationship with God so that Kristen and I never have to separate. If there are multiple mortal probations I want this to be my last. (Not counting the question of possible future condescensions for the exalted beings, of course…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 3, 2006 @ 11:34 pm

  57. In 1973 or thereabouts, the First Presidency responded to a written inquiry about progression between kingdoms to the effect that the Church had no official doctrine on the matter.

    I don’t think it is particularly tenable to completely process-ize away the events of judgment and resurrection for a variety of scriptural reasons, but there is definite merit that some (perhaps just a minority) may be sufficiently motivated to qualify for inter-kingdom progression, and I cannot conceive of the justice of leaving such figures where they are.

    A significant practical example of this is the repentance that will have to occur in spirit prison for spirits to qualify for resurrection into the telestial glory. That is roughly like moving from kingdom E-1 to kingdom E+1. So why not E+1 to E+2 on occasion or E+2 to E+3?

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 4, 2006 @ 1:55 am

  58. I have not read al the comments, I don’t have time right now, but Geoff has asked for a model better than MMP. Here is my attempt.

    - A long and productive pre-existence where many became noble and great.
    - A single mortal probation that serves as a ‘final test’.
    - Vicarious ordinances.
    - A Perfect Final Judgment based on everything (including pre-existence) by a God who knows the future very, very, very well – if not perfectly, approaching perfectly.
    - Eternal progress within the sphere of your kingdom.

    All I have time for now.

    Comment by Eric — May 4, 2006 @ 5:45 am

  59. Eric & Geoff: I lean toward the view that there have been aeons of time in which we have undergone various experiences that are instrumental to our growth and are for our experience. However, I can see no reason that we have more than one “mortality” or experience of death. Or more than one body that we are given a chance to master or be mastered by it. I can’t see why each experience should be a “probation”. So what Eric outlines makes better sense — except there is the problem of what we did that would result in our being noble and great. Surely we had all kinds of various experiences.

    Here are few issues: What would satisfy the requirement to say that it was “me”, the self-same person or identity, if I don’t have the same personality, the same body, the samemoral character of something of that sort? I suppose that we could say we have a common “intelligence”, but what does that mean where I have no memory of what went before, have a different body and a different personality? Like reincarnation in general, there is a huge problem of identity. I would seem to be a different person and not really me.

    Second, in eternities past there was enough time to have already experienced everything in our lives many times over. There is enough time to go back and go to any point in our lives where we made a decision and make that decision differently and then see what happens given a different decision (kind of like Groundhog Day). Now it doesn’t follow from the fact that we could have already done everything that we have in fact already done it all — but it does follow that we have all had sufficient time in which to make decisions. Thus, it follows that there cannot be any concern about unfairness or mere luck.

    BTW there is an article in the current issue of Religious Studies (published by Oxford) that argues that a multiple lives theism is morally superior to a single life theism (no second chances). It is interesting reading and support what Geoff argues here. The idea of pre-existence provides a very strong argument for a superior position that eliminates the unfairnes of our vastly different positions at birth and the unfairness of short lives, lack of opportunities and sheer luck that swallows everything.

    Eric: I am strongly in the camp of those who believe that we can progress among kingdoms or levels of glory. Section 76 makes it clear that the degree of light we have is as varied as the stars and the “kingdoms” or leves are merely metaphors for variation in degrees of light. Since there is an infinite gradation in such degrees, we too can exemplify them in any level of light that we are willing to accept (just as some in this telestial world have more light than others). So there is no need to move between kingdom because there are no barriers as such because we are speaking metaphorically and not as if there actually were merely three different degrees of light.

    Comment by Blake — May 4, 2006 @ 6:52 am

  60. Here is the reference to the article arguing that multiple lives theism is morally superior to single life theism. It is cast in terms of reincarnation, which I reject because reincarnation falls to the “identity” objection — but I think that the idea of pre-existence can avoid that argument and provide the same morally supeior positon. Anyway, here it is: http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FRES%2FRES42_01%2FS0034412505007961a.pdf&code=c7ef077d2617cea790aecae20ceafeb1

    Comment by Blake — May 4, 2006 @ 7:12 am

  61. Blake: Wow. Thanks for noticing me. I do not have firm beliefs regarding the differences between kingdoms. About the only thing I wonder about here is eternal progression in terms of a continuation of the ‘seed’ so to speak. D&C 130ish I believe. There seems to be a distinction between those who can and those who can’t that seem an important result of judgment, that seems eternal.

    Comment by Eric — May 4, 2006 @ 8:39 am

  62. GEOFF:> So Rich… You’re saying that wicked people think an MMP model makes sense and righteous people go for permanent judgment?? That is a hoot.

    RICH:> It’s not a question of making sense, both ideas make sense. It’s a question of which to believe. I dont think you are wicked for believeing your theory, and I certainly dont think Heber C Kimball was wicked, and he introduced it.

    What H.C.K did do, and what you have now done – is present an alternative vision of eternity to that which is taught (either explicitly or implicitly) throughout our entire LDS lives (no pun intended).

    I think that yes, by necessity, the unrepentant would be more inclined to believe this theory, offering as it does not just a second, but multiple chances. At best this theory could cause us to take this chance (which chance are we on?) less seriously, or at worst to waste it all together. This theory will appeal to the lazy side of our human nature every time.

    GEOFF:>Of course another reason not to talk about it in official capacities is it freaks some people out and that is bad for PR

    RICH:> Explaining how we will be resurrected would be bad PR and freak a lot of people out but it doesnt stop anyone preaching resurrection. If eternal progression through kingdoms is possible and MMP is the vehicle through which it is achieved then great, preach eternal progression. MMP would not have to come into it.

    I believe if the Prophet could teach us that progression through kingdoms is possible then he would, what a great message of hope! I suspect the reason he hasn’t actually modified the plan of salvation is not due to a fear of bad pr, but because he can’t.

    GEOFF:> Would you ever permanently shun your own children? If we live forever then what kind of parent would cast off their own child forever if there was a chance that child might change and return? Certainly not the God I worship.

    I’ve been thinking about this and no, I wouldn’t. But perhaps if I had allowed another of my children to be sacrificed for my other childrens sake, and for the very purpose of allowing all my children the opportunity to return to me under perfectly reasonable and acceptable terms – I would then reward those who chose this path differently than those children of mine who had rejected it.

    Great post by the way, has got me thinking a lot.

    Comment by R.D.H — May 4, 2006 @ 9:32 am

  63. R.D.H. In the end, isn’t your assessment that you would never slam the door on your own children a judgment that a loving being will never do the same? It is clear to me that God will always remain open and always love us in the sense that he is committed to our best interests. He will always be open to accept the moment we turn to him. That is what it means to be loving — and either God is so committed to our best interests out of love or all is lost.

    Comment by Blake — May 4, 2006 @ 10:22 am

  64. Eric (#58),

    The problem is that you have essentially reiterated the standard “My Turn of Earth” model and it resolves none of the issues I brought up in this post. It has no answer for the immortal Telestial Penal Planet objection. It has no answer for the objection over innumerable discarded batches of God’s children from former inhabited worlds. It has no answer for the explanation why our loving Heavenly Father would eternally shun a full 1/3 of his own children prior to the “final” exam. What do you think happens when a damned soul (who still has free will) “come to himself” and desires to return to his father?

    The entire “we had long enough in the pre-existence” argument is rife with problems. First, those who believe our spirits are beginningless in something like their current form (what I call the “whole-cloth” or irreducible theory of spirits) have to explain why infinity of time was not enough to become one with God but how infinity plus 72.5 years will do the job. Jesus pulled it off in infinity of time prior to this world after all. (Of course Blake contends that Jesus started off as one with the Godhead, but that is a different debate.) Anyway, I lean toward our spirits being composed of beginningless intelligence parts rather than the being beginningless in “whole cloth” and that would get you past the infinity of years plus 72 objection (See my post on this subject here.) But if you take that route you’d then have to explain why spirits with different start dates all have to take the same “final exam” here on earth together. Why is it just to allow some spirit children much more time to prepare and progress than others?

    Second, the “long enough” argument still doesn’t pass the smell test for me. Look, today is my oldest daughter’s birthday. I had just turned 27 when she was born. If I used the model you are proposing that our loving Father in Heaven uses on us to raise her then I could send her on a mission at the age of 21 (I will have known and observed her for nearly half of my life by then after all – that should be “long enough”) and use my judgment of her performance there to decide if I will cut her off from my life forever. I could use it as her “final exam” to decide if I wanted an ongoing intimate relationship with her. Does that sound like rieous parenting to you? Of course not. But that is essentially what you are proposing God does with us.

    Now if she wanted nothing to do with me I could not force her to love me, but I would continue to love her and there would never come a time that I would reject her return to me. My point is that if we really have free will then there will never be a time that is “long enough” for our loving heavenly parents to decide to shun us permanently.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 11:00 am

  65. Blake,

    Thanks for the heads up on that paper. The link you gave didin’t work but I managed to track a PDF copy down to read later. And I think you are right on in #63.

    As to why MMP – I suppose I lean that way because it is the only explanation I that covers the questions I keep bringing up (Immortal penal planets, 1/3 shunned before coming here, discarded and separate batches of children from innumberable previously inhabited worlds). None of the other progression models — even the progression between kingdoms models — answer those questions. Further, I see (admittedly small) evidences supporting it in cryptic scriptural sayings like “worlds without end” and “the course of the Lord is one eternal round“. None of this is proof or anything, but it remains the best theory I have seen to date. Plus the stamp of approval from the like of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Eliza R. Snow, etc doesn’t hurt at all.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 11:16 am

  66. Geoff,
    How does D&C 138 fit into your MMP model? Sorry I haven’t had time to read all the comments so if this has been answered maybe you could refer me to the appropriate post.

    Comment by gomez — May 4, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  67. Rich,

    I think there is certainly the risk that any progression between kingdoms model might be used as an excuse to procrastinate repentance. However, the flip side is that I am proposing that only those who keep all of their covenants will be exalted and thus only they will be sealed to their spouses. The rest are sent to another probation. That is extra incentive to repent I think and is in better harmony with the wording of the temple covenants we make. We often think we are sealed when we in fact only have a conditional promise of a seal.

    I believe if the Prophet could teach us that progression through kingdoms is possible then he would

    What do you mean “could”? Just because someone has not done something does not mean he could not do it…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 11:41 am

  68. Geoff:

    You ask what if a person that God judges as not being fit for a fullness of exaltation later on changes and then somehow does become fit for it (more or less). My answer is simply that he won’t. And God knows he won’t.

    As far as more time goes, I don’t think these is much difference. I mean 2,555,000,000 years and 2,555,000,017 years are not going to be different enough to matter. (extra credit for where I got the number).

    As far as an earthly parent goes, we would never be a perfect judge. I think that even Christ had to go through the experience in the garden in addition to everything else to put himself in position to be a perfect judge. I can imagine a child exhibiting such extreem evil behavior for a long time to make a parent say enough, out you go. And being hesitant about giving the chance number 100. But even this could be short-sighted and unforgiving. Christ will do a perfect job of this in judgement.

    As to your las paragraph in #64, this is kind of compelling. But, I simply believe that there will be those who simply never will turn. So whether being forever in a telestial or terrestrial state is a matter of eternal policy or eternal reality is the same to me. God will know.

    Comment by Eric — May 4, 2006 @ 11:43 am

  69. Gomez,

    Since section 138 is about the spirit world I don’t think there is any conflict with the MMP model.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 11:44 am

  70. Of course another reason not to talk about it in official capacities is it freaks some people out

    While it might freak out creedal western Christianity I imagine that those of an Eastern philosophical bent would find it very appealing, myself included.
    As for whether or not it would appeal the natural or lazy man is not really an issue for me. If one does not have a testimony or an understanding of the law of progression then they would not take advantage of either plan.

    Comment by Dyslexic Mystic — May 4, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  71. Geoff,
    Help me if I’m not understanding, but I thought MMP theory suggests that when we die we obtain another physical body, whereas D&C 138 teaches we enter the spirit world (regardless of our actions in this life).

    Comment by gomez — May 4, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

  72. Gomez,
    Heber C. Kimball taught that every day on earth is like a probation. he said falling asleep is like death and waking up is like resurrection. I gather from his comment (and from the scripures) that there is a space between death and resurrection (no matter what form that comes in) so I know of no conflict between teachings about the spirit world and the MMP model.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

  73. I am surprised that no one has yet attacked the premises I set out in the post though.

    I think there is a problem with one of your premises. If I might paraphrase your premise: “If God loves us, he won’t force us to remain in a lower degree of glory if we want to rise.”

    Two problems. First, God can’t do everything. He is apparently bound by certain laws which, if he transgresses, he would cease to be a god. So, if the natural laws require a permanent kingdom/judgement, I don’t see any way around it no matter how much he loves us.

    Second, your premise assumes the ability of a person to change later on down the line. You assume that a telestial person may eventually have celestial yearnings. I am far from convinced that this is a valid assumption. I’ve written before that I think mentally handicapped people provide a good analogy here. Because of the type of body they get on earth, there are certain questions they will never ask and certain things they will never desire. They will get to a certain point in their development and essentially plateau. I suspect that our resurrected phyical bodies will have similar limitations. A dog is quite happy being a dog from what I can tell, and a Telestial being will probably be content being a Telestial being. (I’m not trying to equate the two.)

    Comment by Bradley Ross — May 4, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

  74. Geoff said: “First, those who believe our spirits are beginningless in something like their current form (what I call the “whole-cloth” or irreducible theory of spirits) have to explain why infinity of time was not enough to become one with God but how infinity plus 72.5 years will do the job. Jesus pulled it off in infinity of time prior to this world after all.:

    As we alkready discussed, this argument is just modally confused. It’s like saying that since you have had time to become a millionaire, therefore either you are a millionaire or it is false that you have had time. The fact that we could possibly have done something doesn’t mean it is necessary that we have. Please correct your logical analysis and don’t let me catch you doing it again [grin]!

    Comment by Blake — May 4, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  75. Blake: Please correct your logical analysis and don’t let me catch you doing it again [grin]!

    Hehehe… I was wondering if you would call me on that. Alright I won’t try that specific trick again. But I think the basic argument works even if we are dealing with a finite amount of time like, say, a mere 800 trillion years. It seems pretty hard to defend the idea that 800 trillion years is not long enough but 800 trillion years plus 70 does the trick… not for just one of us but for every living person on the earth. There is just a serious flaw in the “long enough” argument I think.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  76. Geoff: I took you 27 years to have a child. What’s with that? You could have done it in just 14. Same problem with your argument above.

    Comment by Blake — May 4, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  77. Bradley: If I might paraphrase your premise: “If God loves us, he won’t force us to remain in a lower degree of glory if we want to rise.”

    This rephrasing displays what I think is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way these things work. I would never put it that way because it implies that “degrees of glory” are places or things. I think it is just incorrect to look at it this way. Rather, a degree of glory is best described as a measurement of the closeness of our personal relationship with God. The closer our relationship with God the more light and glory we have:

    That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50: 24)

    And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (D&C 88: 67)

    The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matt. 6: 22)

    In contrast, no relationship with God at all, complete separation and alienation from God is appropriately called “outer darkness”.

    Therefore we are only talking about a relationship with God so instead of restating the way you did, I would restate it: “If God loves us, he won’t reject our pleas to be in a relationship with him no matter how long we wait (like the prodigal son) to ‘come to ourselves’ and seek such a relationship.”

    Your other argument seems to be essentially an argument against human potential for growth and against free will. However, Joseph Smith said that every human mind is capable of incredible growth:

    All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement and improvement. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge.

    This would seem to be especially true for those with resurrected bodies. And arguments against the free will to choose a relationship with God are countered by Lehi’s preaching in 2 Nephi 2 among other places.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 2:25 pm

  78. Wait, Geoff, are you saying that what we need to do is to acknowledge that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior?

    Comment by HP — May 4, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  79. Blake: I took you 27 years to have a child. What’s with that? You could have done it in just 14. Same problem with your argument above.

    This comment seems supports my overall point pretty well. It makes no sense to set a deadline for me to have children by a certain age and likewise it makes no sense to set a cutoff date (or “final exam”) for us to turn to God and accept his loving embrace. My whole point in that comment you are referring to was that there never will be a point at which God has waited “long enough” and decides to permanently shun us forever more.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

  80. HP,

    What are you talking about?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

  81. Sorry, quoting a thousand, thousand Bible thumpers from my youth. You’re beginning to sound terribly born-again in all this, you know (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Comment by HP — May 4, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  82. What are you all talking about? The mysteries are often unconducive to logical discussion. It’s positively getting medieval here. Why don’t we have a Scholastic argument about the First Cause?

    Comment by cadams — May 4, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  83. By the way, here’s another Kingdom Progression evidence – 2 Cor. 3:18

    Comment by cadams — May 4, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  84. One factor that should be considered is the economics of our probationary state in the first place – we remain here in a state as nice as because this existence has a baseline subsidy (i.e. we are actively shielded from the natural consequences of the law of justice).

    And like any subsidy, there are both good and bad side effects. The good is that some get an opportunity to repent and improve, the bad is that various unhealthy behaviors get underwritten as well. Classic welfare economics.

    So one may consider the preliminary judgment after death as an economically requisite sort of ‘tough love’ – no more subsidy for you pal – at least not until you get your act together. This principle operates to an extent here on earth, but not nearly to the degree it will in our post-mortal state.

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 4, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

  85. Blake,

    R.D.H. In the end, isn’t your assessment that you would never slam the door on your own children a judgment that a loving being will never do the same?

    Yes I agree that in the end I would do anything. But then I am different from God – I am keen to extend mercy (being in need of it myself) yet I clearly do not posess Gods perfect ability to also execute justice.

    I do not see telestial or terestial glory as a slammed door, but as a just and merciful judgement from a loving Heavenly Father to a child who He is giving all he can. It is glory after all. Consider the alternative believed by more people than us, which is a strict hell and heaven divide. Now we seem to hold it as our right to one day be exalted, I’m not sure about that personally.

    At some point a father who loves his son may have to say ‘you know what, you’re just not going to be a pro athlete’. His nor his sons desire to be one ultimately makes any difference, if the son, after being given every possible chance, has not demonstrated enough ability to warrant being a pro athlete. This may break God’s heart, or he may have such a great understanding of the reasons and law behind his judgement that he deals with it. I could not take a 50 year old son of mine back to school to play college football because that was his true desire any more than God can give me another life to try again. The Father doesn’t love the son any less, it is just a fact. A permanent telestial glory may indeed be in our best interests.

    My inability to say no to my children is not evidence of Gods inability to say no to us.

    (Just to confuse things, I have no children as of yet. That I’m aware of.)

    Geoff,

    What do you mean “could”? Just because someone has not done something does not mean he could not do it…

    I said could for two reasons.

    1. I truly believe if eternal progression was possible, a prophet of God would love to preach this doctrine, as it would give hope to the hopeless and peace to those who just simply aren’t sure if they’ll make the CK or not (i.e all of us.).

    2. If you are right, prophets have not just stayed silent on the issue, but they have allowed the counter (in your view, false) notion of permanent judgement to influence Latter Day Saints themselves, and LDS curriculum in a very dangerous way. I understand why a prophet doesn’t teach all the mysteries of the kingdom in general conference. But to allow an easily corrected, yet hugely important doctrine to permeate the church unchallenged? That is unbelievable in my mind.

    We often think we are sealed when we in fact only have a conditional promise of a seal.

    Amen to that, this is something I take very seriously, but probably not the most romantic thing to remind your wife of a couple of hours after getting sealed. It does make me cringe somewhat to hear newlyweds (which I am myself) freely bare testimony in church of there relief knowing they are now married forever and cannot be seperated.

    Comment by R.D.H. — May 4, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

  86. I must object to the use of “medieval” as an epithet – that is an artifact of the progressive “whig” view of history – that the world was covered in palpable darkness until the “enlightenment” and that we have been better off in all respects ever since. Whatever its weaknesses medieval scholasticism was considerably more subtle and sophisticated than most of what followed it, especially in the field of theology.

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 4, 2006 @ 4:37 pm

  87. HP (#81) – What I am preaching is hardly the evangelical position. I am saying we need to all be prophets in the sense that Nephi or Lehi or the Brother of Jared were. That is, we need not lead a worldwide church (they didn’t) but we do need to have an intimate personal relationship with God. Only through that relationship can we become one with God and that oneness is what exaltation is all about.

    cadams (#82) – You lost me… what are you talking about?

    Mark (#84) – I’m not certain I know what subsidy you are referring to. Whatever it is, in the MMP model it would be basically the same in every mortal probation.

    Rich (#85) – I think you are mistaken if you believe that our love and devotion for our children is less than Godlike because we would never reject their decision to return to us.

    At some point a father who loves his son may have to say ‘you know what, you’re just not going to be a pro athlete’.

    This is not what we are talking about though. We are talking about a father saying to his son ‘you know what, you’re just not good enough to deserve my love or a relationship with me even if you desire it’. We are talking about degrees of relationship here.

    I truly believe if eternal progression was possible, a prophet of God would love to preach this doctrine

    We simply disagree on this point then I guess.

    If you are right, prophets have not just stayed silent on the issue

    In the 19th century prophets like Brigham and Heber and Lorenzo did speak on these subjects openly. The more we have become integrated with the rest of the world in the century since then, the more prophets have simply refrained from discussing anything but the most rudimentary principles. The whole “it can’t be true because it’s not in my scriptures” argument sounds like a variation on the “A Bible a Bible we already have a Bible” theme to me anyway.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 4, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  88. Geoff, setting aside other considerations, the main reason why I prefer a more conventional model with some progression between kingdoms is what one might call the principle of doctrinal parsimony. In other words, all else being equal, concepts that are simple extensions of existing (prefably scriptural) doctrines are to be preferred over concepts that are more elaborate or outlandish extensions.

    Context-free consistency and simplicity are not enough, as long as the canon is going to be preserved. Explaining away apparently contrary passages in the canon is no easy thing. So even if a simpler model might be preferred in absolute terms, it is usually easier to persuade people if you can cast a theory in terms of a “creative” reading (or misreading) of existing scriptures, ideally if one can make a reasonably persuasive case that an alternative interpretation is what they meant to convey (or what God intended them to convey) all along.

    The Apostle Paul was a master of this, as he (and others) interpreted several Old Testament scriptures in a manner both persuasive and unfamiliar to the Jews of the time. How tenable such a “creative” reading can be without prophetic authority is subject to question, but a masterpiece of alternative interpretation is a delight to consider either way.

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 4, 2006 @ 11:25 pm

  89. D&C 76;
    76 These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.

    77 These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father

    Says to me ‘you know what son, you’re just not good enough to live with me forever’.

    Yet a just and loving God still gives us a glory, he has done all he can for us, despite ours and his desire. I don’t think we are all destined for exaltation. Or else why have 3 kingdoms – why not just the CK, the ‘still working on it kingdom’ and outer darkness for those with no desire at all.

    It would be a pleasant, unharmful surprise to be proved wrong in the next life, which may be one reason the prophet stays silent on the issue – it certainly wouldnt hurt to believe in permananet judgement all your life… But what I can’t get past Geoff, is that he is not only silent on the issue – but actually allowing false doctrine to become the norm, surely he would have to correct this? The plan of salvation, as taught to every single convert this church has, does not allow for progression through kingdoms. Surely the prophet knows this, and it would be his duty to correct it if it were indeed false.

    Comment by R.D.H. — May 5, 2006 @ 3:10 am

  90. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet (I know that’s an obnoxious thing to start off with), but I hope and pray for progression in the afterlife. My dad died before he was able to make corrections in his life. I look at all the things that happened in his life – both environmental, circumstantial and medical – to shape him, to make him who he was, to cause some of the difficulties that contributed to who he became – not excusing his sin, but making his bitterness and self hatred much more understandable – and I think that a loving God would have to give him a second chance.

    I just wouldn’t understand a God, a parent, who wouldn’t allow for progression – who would ever say – that’s it, you’re done.

    Comment by Sue — May 5, 2006 @ 8:00 am

  91. RDH: Says to me ‘you know what son, you’re just not good enough to live with me forever’.

    I don’t see anything about “forever” in that passage. And as the title of thos post indicates, I think that idea is, well, a crock. ;-)

    I don’t think we are all destined for exaltation.

    Nor do I. (I hope that has been clear in this discussion)

    which may be one reason the prophet stays silent on the issue – it certainly wouldnt hurt to believe in permananet judgement all your life…

    Yeah – I think you are right here. The problem is that people start overcompensating and end up misunderstanding grace and then incorrect teachings like The Parable of the Bicycle gain huge traction in the church to make up for it all.

    surely he would have to correct this?

    Nah. They stick with the basics.

    The plan of salvation, as taught to every single convert this church has, does not allow for progression through kingdoms.

    Oh really? The missionary discussions were silent on the progression between kingdoms issue when I taught them (4th discussion at the time…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 5, 2006 @ 8:24 am

  92. Sue,

    Thanks. I could not agree more.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 5, 2006 @ 8:25 am

  93. Geoff,

    I’ve been looking over this and other MMP posts and I have a few problems/questions.

    First and foremost is words and what they mean. It is clear in the scriptures that God communicates with man using man’s language and man’s reasoning and expresses Himself in terms that man can understand. Moreover, God exists in a state that is far beyond ours that descriptions of him using our earthly languages are most likely woefully inadequate. Also we do not know the laws that God operates under. In essence you are substituting one set of inadequate words that people draw conclusions from, ” Omniscience,” “Eternal,” with another set “Loving,” etc., and in essence, there is nothing to recommend your explanation above the one(s) you are replacing because they suffer from the same problems in language.

    By the way, I am not saying that God is not any of these things or ultimately unknowable, but rather we know God through these words initially and our knowledge grows beyond these words as we grow closer to God.

    Second, using the terms as I think you define them, MMP looks as much as an unloving option as the eternal sort. Indeed why not use the term reincarnation because that seems to be what you are talking about anyways (correct me if I am wrong, I tried hard to track down what you meant by MMP and could come up with only this).

    Let me make this point with a story about my PhD advisor. He was born with a neurological problem that made it hard for him to move or talk as a normal person, while keeping a keen intelligence. His father was a military man and wanted to send his son, since before he had him, to go to military school. The father decided against it. Although they could make my advisor march and do the things he needed to do there, it would have been a hellish time for him because of this disability.

    MMP/reincarnation presents us with this very same problem. Theoretically, there are some, through no inherent fault of their own, that will be unable to meet the burden that God put on them. Is this what a “loving” God does, force someone into something they can not do? How is it their fault that they are effectively damned to be the dross leftover after the eternal refinement, doomed to live over and over a life that they are not able, on a very basic level, to succeed at. Is this not “eternal damnation,” a kind of effective ” permanent judgment?” It would even border on predestination after God sent these people back after he has seen their inherent faults.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 5, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  94. Oh yes and one more thing.

    If wea are suppose to get better and better through MMP, then why do we forget about our past lives? The forgetting would seem to negate any improvement we could have made before the life we are in.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 5, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  95. “we do need to have an intimate personal relationship with God. Only through that relationship can we become one with God and that oneness is what exaltation is all about.”

    What exactly isn’t Protestant about this?

    Comment by HP — May 5, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  96. I don’t think we are all destined for exaltation.

    Nor do I. (I hope that has been clear in this discussion)

    I think following your model to its logical conclusion, all would be either exalted or doomed(is this possible in your model – could you retrogress so many times you would be doomed?) Eventually one would retrogress so many times and be lost forever or progress to such a stage where they would be exalted. Unless of course a significant number of us are retrogressing and progressing continuously and ultimately getting nowhere. Am I wrong?

    surely he would have to correct this?

    Nah. They stick with the basics.

    another thing we will have to agree to disagree on, because in my opinion this is a basic.

    The missionary discussions were silent on the progression between kingdoms issue when I taught them (4th discussion at the time…)

    I suppose that depends on your initial view, for me the fourth discussion was clear and reinforces the idea of permanent judgement – to you it may or may not do the opposite. I guess you’re right in that it doesnt explicitly say so, but for me this is because there is no need to say so.

    What do you think of D&C 131:1-4? What do you think it means to say that if a man does not enter the highest celestial degree he cannot then have an increase?

    Comment by R.D.H. — May 5, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

  97. HP: What exactly isn’t Protestant about this?

    Well the basic idea is in the Bible so certainly Protestants go for it. But that hardly makes a relationship with God exclusively Protestant. Catholics and Mormons go for it generally too. My opinion in that a Mormon take on it assumes the heavens are as open now to us again as they were to Paul and the others in the primitive Christian church though. We place much more emphasis and faith in personal revelation now than creedal Christians do. So the difference is that I believe we literally should all become prophets. By so doing our personal relationship with God moves closer and closer to the oneness the scriptures describe.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 5, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

  98. Nate T. (93-94),

    First, why would you assume that describing God in terms like “omniscient and eternal” would be at odds with describing him in terms like “loving”? They seems like the complement each other to me rather than compete as descriptions of God.

    why not use the term reincarnation because that seems to be what you are talking about

    Because we only live once on a planet. Reincarnation implies multiple lives on this earth.

    I’m afraid I don’t at all understand the comparison you made to your advisor. The only thing MMP does is explain the mechanism by which there is eternal progression or retrogression. Lots of people in the church believe in the idea of potential eternal progression and in progression between kingdoms after all. MMP is simply one theory of how that happens.

    AS to why the forgetting — that same question could be asked of the single probation model. The same answers apply as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 5, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  99. RDH: I think following your model to its logical conclusion, all would be either exalted or doomed(is this possible in your model – could you retrogress so many times you would be doomed?)

    Right — Brigham’s recyling of spirits model applies here I think (but of course that assumes our parts are eternal rather than our whole).

    What do you think of D&C 131:1-4? What do you think it means to say that if a man does not enter the highest celestial degree he cannot then have an increase?

    I think it is a fine passage of scripture. It is sort of unrelated to the MMP question though.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 5, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

  100. How do you explain the Christ’s words in Luke 16:19-26?

    … And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

    Comment by Daylan — May 5, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  101. AS to why the forgetting-that same question could be asked of the single probation model. The same answers apply as well.

    The single probation model positions the veil so we can develop faith in this life, somthing that would be impossible if we had an absolute knowedge of God from our premortal life. There is no such rational for forgetting previous lives, because one was operating by faith then, so will it be in the next probationary state. This is what I meant to say on ninemoons.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 5, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

  102. Geoff: I don’t think that a single probation model suffers from the problem of identity that Nate has identified. Look, if there is another person on another planet who doesn’t have any of my memories, has a different body, has a different family and genetic make-up and so forth, and yet you call this person the same person as “me”, then I am at a loss to know what identifies me with that person.

    Now if I am on a different planet and have a different body and no memories, but I have the same personality due to the fact that I have the advantage of the moral advances I made in prior experiences and my character manifests itself, then I suppose that we could say that is person is morally-relevantly-similar to me. Perhaps we could say that we have the same character though we are not the same person. Yet this latter example doesn’t seem like an example of another mortal probation, but of eternal progression. Moreover, if I am glorified by the added degree of light that I accepted in this life, then we have a notion of eternal progression, but it doesn’t require several mortal probations. Why not begin in whatever new experiences present themselves with the benefit of the body the immortal body that I had before?

    It also seems to me that scriptures about the immortal nature of the the resurrected body are at odds with the view that we slough off such a body and begin a mortality again. I believe that we go on to all kinds of new and challenging experiences after this life (just as we did before this life), but I believe that in doing so we have the benefit of the body that we have glorified and received in the resurrection (as our scriptures repeatedly state). Otherwise, the nature of the body and the benefits of having such a body would seem to be totally superfluous since each mortal probation would bring a new body with a different glory — and frankly a new identity altogether.

    Comment by Blake — May 5, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  103. The only thing MMP does is explain the mechanism by which there is eternal progression or retrogression

    But there is no way to progress in such a system unless you can take something of the previous experence with you. The necessity for the vail is explained previously, but we recieve atleast some of the knowedge we would have known if the vail was not there through scriptures, prohpets, the Holy Ghost etc. There is no nuch provision in MMP, because there is no way the previous experences can reach the new probation.

    First, why would you assume that describing God in terms like “omniscient and eternal” would be at odds with describing him in terms like “loving”? They seems like the complement each other to me rather than compete as descriptions of God.

    You are fendelmentally misinterpeting what I have said. It seemsce since you have argued elsewhere that omiessence is contradictory with agency and punishment is not eternal (or am I wrong), you are substituting a system that, intead of emphising these terms exaults another in its stead.

    My main point was that these are mere appoximatations of what God is, using our flawed language. God is far beyound our ability to discribe him because His state is so different from ours. Stating that this is more consistant with “a loving God” forgets that what we view as “loving” might be different than what God is in any particular instance. Thus, I find it utamately futile, speaking respectully here, to speculate much on things we only have a shakey knowedge on. In this way, I am not saying you are wrong, mearly there is no way to tell if you are right.

    I know this might be an arcane and difficult to understand. It connects to the way language operates at a level people do not think about often. I find my own attempts to express myself on this point are hampered by the very language I use.

    I will also repeat what I said before.

    By the way, I am not saying that God is not any of these things or ultimately unknowable, but rather we know God through these words initially and our knowledge grows beyond these words as we grow closer to God.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 5, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  104. Nate and Blake,

    I wrote a whole follow up post to pick up this conversation afresh…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 6, 2006 @ 1:52 am

  105. Hi Geoff,

    Sorry for labouring the point – I can see you are trying to move on with a new post so this will be my last question/s.

    It seems to me that your rational behind mmp is that a loving God would always give his children the ability to progress if this is what they desire, despite potentially not showing that desire in this life. You also stated that not everyone will reach exaltation.

    In your model, are there then ultimately two sets of people – one that wll eventually be exalted. and one set that will eventually be cast off, as they have no desire to progress?

    If the answer to this question is no, then please dont feel you have to explain any further, I obviously just dont get it – and I’ll move on with my life and allow you to do the same.

    It was a very interesting post though.

    Comment by R.D.H. — May 6, 2006 @ 6:05 am

  106. Way up this thread, Eric made the comment that:

    All this comes into who we have become, and will be part of our judgment. It is not just base on 72.8 years of a mortal probation but on everything up to this point. That is potentially a lot of information in the hands of a God.

    The problem I see with this type of notion is that lets, conservative guess, that we existed as a formed spirit for 5000 years, and that this amount of data went into our judgment. If 5000 years wasn’t enough, why is 5072.8 years suddenly enough? And if 5000 was enough, why was it even necessary for us to be born? No… I think it is a maturity issue. WE continue to advance until, at the extreme end: we have either made our calling and election sure or comitted the unpardonable sin, or something more neutral, we have decided we want to advance no further and have stopped utilizing the time given to us for this purpose.

    As we attain one of these points, God could place an eternal judgment on us because we have already made up our minds. If there is room for a wavering mind on the subject, then we haven’t made it up yet.

    If one is going to try to give a push for the idea that permanent negative judgment is a crock, one would also have to demonstrate that permanent positive judgment is a crock. That an exalted being can become damned. I’m not sure, and I need to study more on this before I take up sides.

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 28, 2006 @ 2:49 am

  107. This is the best Gospel Doctrine /Institute class I have ever attended. What a feast. Can you tell me where I can find the Journal of Discourses on the net?
    Need to look up the referances. Please email it to me.

    Comment by Ruth — June 21, 2006 @ 7:56 am

  108. Thanks for the kind words Ruth. The Journal of Discourses are published a couple of places on the Web (a Google search will bring them up I think.) Here is the version I have bookmarked at journalofdiscourses.org.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 21, 2006 @ 8:29 am

  109. Geoff,
    It’s interesting to visit your web site every few years and see what you’re thinking. Since I’m a few years late to this discussion, I’ll assume that by now you have come to the firm conclusion that there is eternal progression for everyone who wants it. So, I’ll just leave you with some reasoning that bypasses the issues of multiple mortal probations and progression between kingdoms, because they aren’t required for eternal progression. Eternal progression for everyone who desires it follows from four fundamental principles: 1) God wants us to become like Him (and be with Him), 2) Progression means becoming more like God (or having more of a relationship with him, if you prefer to say it that way), 3) We are intelligences (i.e. intelligent beings), and we always will be, and 4) Intelligent beings change (if they choose to) when faced with new challenges from their environment (i.e. they learn). These principles lead me to the conclusion that as long as we are willing to learn, God will continue to present us with opportunities to learn. The more I’ve thought about this, the more firm my conviction has become that this life should not be viewed as a sorting process that God uses to decide who to put in what kingdom after the resurrection. This life should be viewed as an opportunity for us to learn. Period. One of the most important things we learn here, perhaps the most important, is our weaknesses. We learn about our weaknesses so that we can become stronger (as in Ether 12:27). Like classrooms designed to group students with similar levels of knowledge and abilities to learn, the degrees of glory provide opportunities for us to learn at our level of knowledge and ability. By the way, the degrees of glory have nothing to do with God giving us glory. Glory is inseparable from who we are–not with what we have done in the past, except as past experiences contribute to who we are. So, glory isn’t the issue that we should be concerned with. We should be concerned with becoming who we are becoming. Although some who have written their thoughts here might be horrified to learn that who we are now will not be who we will be in the eternities, that is a good thing. Who we are changes over time as we learn. Keep up the good work, Geoff.

    Comment by Bill B. — October 28, 2009 @ 6:51 am

  110. Bill,

    I agree with your sentiments, but rather than bypassing the issue of progression between kingdoms you affirmed it. If our glory is inextricably tied to who we are (as you suggest) then we belong to some glory now (presumably not celestial). If we continue to change and can progress indefinitely (as you suggest) then we can move from our current kingdom of glory to the celestial. Viola, progression between kingdoms.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 28, 2009 @ 9:12 am

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