Veils of Forgetfulness, Personal Identity Problems, and a Challenge

May 6, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 1:31 am   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Theology

I’m getting to the point where I don’t like long threads anymore. Too many useful and thought-provoking comments end up buried and nearly impossible to find in those 100+ comment threads. Therefore, this post is picking up on the discussion that has been taking place on my last (rather controversial) post. I should note that that post has also spawned several others worth reading as well (See here, here, and (sorta) here so far.)

First, I’ll note that Nate T. has been using several arguments in an attempt to show that the multiple mortal probations (MMP) model of eternity is untenable. The problem is that his arguments attacking MMP also end up attacking the single mortal probation model and the arguments he uses to support the single mortal probation model support MMP as well. Here are some quotes:

The single probation model positions the veil so we can develop faith in this life, something that would be impossible if we had an absolute knowledge 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.

If a veil one time can help us develop faith then it could more than once too, right? Further, if we already had an “absolute knowledge of God” then why would we need to “develop faith in this life”? His entire assumption about “absolute knowldege” is off base here I think.

He continues: There is no way to progress in such a system [MMP] unless you can take something of the previous experence with you.

If this is the case then how could we progress in a single mortal probation without taking any of our previous experience with us? I think the answer is that we come here with a blank memory and receive a new body but we bring with us a fundamental character as well. It is that fundamental “intelligence” or spiritual character that we are trying to mold here. If we can improve (or degrade) that character by losing all of our memory once then why couldn’t it happen many times? The principle works the same every time.

Blake then picked up the same vein of thought though with a slightly different and more nuanced approach. He said:

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.

I agree with Blake here – there is a real dilemma regarding personal identity and veils of forgetfulness. But as with the arguments Nate used, the dilemma applies to the single mortal probation model as much as the MMP model. I posted on this very subject not long ago (I liked that post – I recommend it…) The gist of that post is that memories are what make up most of my personal identity as I know it. Even in the single mortal probation model the fact is that if we lived forever (or at least for eons) prior to coming here we had a personality and personal identity for all of that time. But upon being born here that personal identity was lost with the amnesia we got upon arriving here. So the person I am now is a different person that I was then. The problem is that if and when all of my former memories are restored the person I am now, or the personal identity I have now, will be forever obliterated and subsumed in the tidal wave of the former “me” that rushes back. (See my thought experiment in that post for more on this). So this personal identity thing is equally perplexing no matter how many times we pass through a veil of forgetfulness.

Again, I think the only good answer is that something more fundamental than our memories or personal identity is being molded in the process of a mortal probation — something that we might label our character. In other words, whatever it is that is fundamental to what we are is transforming here. But this works no matter how many mortal probations we experience (one or many).

Blake acknowledges this line of thought in his comment:

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.

He then wonders why MMP is needed if we have an immortal body after one probation: Why not begin in whatever new experiences present themselves with the benefit of the body the immortal body that I had before?

The problem I see with this model is that it provides no explanations of how one could possibly continue to progress toward oneness with God after this life. Paul indicated that we are resurrected into bodies of varying degrees of glory. Those of Telestial character receive the least glorified resurrected bodies and the “My Turn of Earth” model assumes they go and live in a Telestial place. That brings up this idea of a planet full of non-aging immortal former reprobates (murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc.) somewhere in our Universe. Not only one planet though, but presumably innumerable such planets (filled with other “batches” of God’s children no less) because our scriptures seem to indicate that there have been innumerable worlds just like ours before this one and if we assume the My Turn on Earth model then each of those would have to result in Telestial and Terrestrial holding planets of some kind where immortals hang around in their non-Celestial but immortal physical bodies forever. So my question is how does one progress in that situation? How does one become one with God when he is outfitted with an immortal Telestial body and lives on a Telestial planet? Does an immortal Telestial body change for the better or worse? Even if that were the case how would the person get off of the Telestial planet? Is there some cutoff when they earn a ticket on a shuttle to the neighboring Terrestrial planet?

I know I am being a bit flippant here, but I think these questions are worth asking. MMP provides a much, much cleaner solution to these problems than single probation models I think. In an MMP model there is only one “batch” of God’s children and he works with us eternally, trying to help us freely choose to become one with Him. There is no need to envision a universe full of largely “penal planets” of Telestials who have been largely abandoned by their Father in Heaven because all those who are not exalted in any given inhabited mortal planet are sent to live on a later mortal planet. Their station and opportunities in each life are determined by their choices in the previous life. Those who come closest to fulfilling the measure of their creation are given more “talents” in each succeeding life and those who waste their “talents” are given fewer in the next life. Those who are exalted find themselves one with God and one with their spouse and for them the mortal probation are over. The MMP model provides a very clean explanation of the eternities as far as I can tell and it escapes the issues I keep bringing up
a) “Penal Planets” throughout our universe filled with immortal former reprobates, and
b) Innumerable batches of God’s children (our siblings?) who are all given one change and then most are sent away to these planets filled with immortals forever while God moves on to the next batch.

So while there are other things I could mention, I am throwing the challenge out for anyone to show me the error of my ways and present an alternative model that resolves my a) and b) issues.

65 Comments »

  1. Ill just repost what I put in the other thread.

    But there is no way to progress in such a system unless you can take something of the previous experience with you. The necessity for the vail is explained previously, but we receive at least some of the knowledge we would have known if the vail was not there through scriptures, prophets, the Holy Ghost etc. There is no such provision in MMP, because there is no way the previous experiences can reach the new probation.

    The vail serves a function in separating us from the premortal life. My basic point is that the vail allows us to develop the kind of faith we need in this world. Quibble with my adjectives if you want but the concept, I think, is sound. There is no such use for a vail separating past lives. It would serve no function in a continued incarnation.

    Moreover, as I stated before there is no method of progression in MMP. In the classical model, we come to the earth for a body and the kind of experience we receive here, speaking in the most general terms. Yes, who we were was forgotten, but is made up by the things we have mentioned. Indeed the vail is a gift of sorts to allow us to accomplish what we need to accomplish on this earth. That is the progression in that model.

    There is nothing a new Incarnation can add to that one already has a body thus something is given up for no return. Any new experience, the lessons learned, the things that actually were progress in your other life are obliterated with nothing to take its place, unlike the classical model. One gains something from passing to the premortal if to this one but gains nothing from a new incarnation.

    Lets draw a thought experiment. Suppose you had an artificial intelligence and you had a series of tests to put it through. It passed the first test, so you erased its memory of the first test and sent it to the second, because the memory would give it an inappropriate advantage in the second test according to your experiment’s parameters. But it did get something from the first test, the ability to go on to the second, to progress, thus it gave up something and got something else in return. On taking the second test it fails. If it is to adapt and change, to learn and progress, it must retain a memory of the second test. Yet you delete it, thus setting the AI up to fail.

    On a side note, Buddhist theologians have discussed this problem with reincarnation (it is as much a problem for reincarnation as MMP, this is also why I slip into Buddhist terminology when discussing this) for centuries and have yet to come up with an decent solution to it. The best attempts I have read have, to put in the modern vernacular, made reincarnation like dominoes set in a series to fall. The accumulated karma and the “soul” of an individual is like the force that pushes the dominoes down and each domino is an incarnation. Each domino is a seperate life, that has nothing in common with the other dominoes other than it is propelled by the same force. The cycle thus is broken only when one reaches enlighenment and can stop the cycle with its own fall.

    Thus the answer they came up with is that this is just the way it is really.

    I have more to say but I will space it out into two posts.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 6, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  2. “Penal Planets?” Where is this in the classical model, where does it say that? We simply need to have a healthy idea of what we don’t know and this is something that is completely conjecture. We actually know very little about the afterlife and conjecture, while perhaps fun, about Penal Planets, MMP, and many more things is fairly useless because it contains theories of love, mercy and fairness that are unprovable in our current state and embraces principles that are beyond our ability as mortals to comprehend in any meaningful matter beyond mearly thinking them. Although I am definitely not accusing you of apostasy (you are not adopting your ideas as a standard by any strech), it was this kind of thinking, the reduction of God to the limitation of man’s theories of Him and the language man uses to describe Him, that produced concepts like the 3-in-1 God that is everywhere yet no here, without body parts or passions.

    Perhaps its the Confucian in me that leads me to think so, for his thought is very appealing to me, because he stayed within the boundaries of what he knew or that was knowable. He did not speculate on metaphysical matters, on things like if a god was really there when one preformed sacrifices, because there was no way to know, plus, most importantly, there was so much in his world that needed talking about, that it was counterproductive to talk about the next very much. (note this is a theory of knowledge not a theory of God or metaphysics)

    Gospel wise, looking at the scriptures, the ministry of Christ and the revelations of modern prophets over all, I think Christ is telling us something similar. A vast majority of the teachings deal with this life, and relatively few deal with describing the next. I think that tells us where our focus should be.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 6, 2006 @ 9:15 am

  3. I forgot one thing. As to your challenge, your two points are based on conjectures themselves, conjectures to counter conjectures is less than staisfying. We simply don’t know if 1 and 2 are right (they could be right or wrong, but we lack the knowedge to prove it either way), what need would there be to counter them?

    Comment by Nate T. — May 6, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  4. Nate T.: My basic point is that the vail allows us to develop the kind of faith we need in this world.

    That is the point I addressed in the post and you haven’t responded to. So again — if that method works to allows us to develop faith one time why would it not work multiple times? I was not quibbling with your adjectives, I was disagreeing with your logic. I think the concept you are pushing is unsound. Further, the fact is that there is a veil separating past lives – the question at hand is whether there is one veil or multiple veils.

    Moreover, as I stated before there is no method of progression in MMP.

    Umm, I addressed this in the post also… All of the ways you say we can progress in a single progression apply to multiple progressions. You have not explained why this could not be the case — you have only asserted that it is the case.

    There is nothing a new Incarnation can add to that one already has a body thus something is given up for no return. Any new experience, the lessons learned, the things that actually were progress in your other life are obliterated with nothing to take its place, unlike the classical model.

    Again, you a long on assertions and short on explanations. Further, I explained what part of us does endure even through veils in the post (I’m starting to wonder if you even read the post honestly…) So if you disagree with my arguments then please address them rather than just making unsupported assertions that I am wrong.

    Suppose you had an artificial intelligence and you had a series of tests to put it through. It passed the first test, so you erased its memory of the first test and sent it to the second,

    Hmmm… I dealt with this in the post too… My belief is that there is a fundamental part of us that does endure through veils. If that were not the case then there would be no purpose for any veils whether there were one or many. Therefore your example of completely erasing artificial intelligence is not comparable to this subject.

    “Penal Planets?” Where is this in the classical model, where does it say that?

    My question to you is: Where do resurrected Telestial people live forever in our universe? I like to call them “penal planets” — what do you call these places? In the My Turn on Earth model the “Telestial kingdom” has to be somewhere in the universe after all…

    You seem to want to retreat back to the classic “It’s all an incomprehensible mystery so we shouldn’t waste our time with it” strategy when I start asking for alternatives explanations to fill the gaping holes the My Turn on Earth model. You are of course not compelled to come here and debate this subject so I can understand if you want to bow out of this conversation. But if you want to have this debate then I have extended a challenge to help me find an explanation to problems a) and b) in the post. Saying “it’s not important” or “it’s incomprehensible” doesn’t really help.

    As to your challenge, your two points are based on conjectures themselves

    Yes, but my conclusions a) and b) do directly and logically follow from the things we do know in the scriptures. I am seeking alternative conclusions that also follow from the scriptures. You have not offered any (and it appears you aren’t going to any time soon). I’m hoping someone else will be able to do so though…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 6, 2006 @ 10:31 am

  5. Geoff, this is fun! Why is it any less likely or desirable to progress from the Telestial Kingdom to the Celestial than it is to use MMPs to do this?

    Actually I like your MMP model. It does answer many questions. It even allows me to not worry about this life….I’ll get another one!

    Penal planets, you seem to indicate that there will be too many of them filling up the universe. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room.

    Some of the problems I have with MMPs is: a) Resurrected bodies that are insperately connected (physical body – spirit body) have to be seperated to go to the next probation. b) Sealing to my wife for eternity (unless you consider eternity to be a period of time, if that is correct then I would get a different eternal wife in the next probation who like the one I have now will drag me kicking and screaming to a better person). c) I don’t have a problem with God judging me and assigning me to a Kingdom based on all He knows about me from my eternal existence…intellegence, spirit body – spirt world, physical body – earth life.

    Comment by don — May 6, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  6. I’ve been following this from a distance but wanted to add my two cents.

    To start off, I think the vast majority of this speculation is looking WAY beyond the mark when it comes to this earth life and the hereafter.

    So my question is how does one progress in that situation?

    You don’t, that’s the point. D$C 19 references eternal damnation. Being damned means having your progression stop.

    How does one become one with God when he is outfitted with an immortal Telestial body and lives on a Telestial planet?

    You don’t, that’s the point of having faith in this life, repenting, being baptized and receiving the gift of the HG. Temple work allows those in SP to receive the latter two on their end. Sorry if this sounds basic but it seems that the plain and simple things are getting lost during the whole MMP discussion. You’ve never mentioned how this model fits with EVERYTHING else in the gospel including temple ordinances. If I have another mortal probation, what’s the point of doing temple work if I get another chance to repent and be baptized?

    Does an immortal Telestial body change for the better or worse?

    Haven’t seen any scriptural or prophetic evidence to suggest otherwise but you have any please share.

    Even if that were the case how would the person get off of the Telestial planet?

    See previous.

    Is there some cutoff when they earn a ticket on a shuttle to the neighboring Terrestrial planet?

    Again, see previous. The problem with MMP is that you rely on the assumption that such progress is possible. Most scriptures including D$C 19 and 76 seem to indicate that progress between the kingdoms is possible. As stated earlier, if you know of any relevant quotes from a semi-believable source I’d be glad to humor you with further anaylsis. Cheers.

    Comment by Jon — May 6, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

  7. Dollar signs for ampersands… quality…

    Comment by Jon — May 6, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

  8. Again, see previous. The problem with MMP is that you rely on the assumption that such progress is possible. Most scriptures including D$C 19 and 76 seem to indicate that progress between the kingdoms is possible. As stated earlier, if you know of any relevant quotes from a semi-believable source I’d be glad to humor you with further anaylsis. Cheers.

    I meant “isn’t possible”, sorry about that. My apologies for the poor proofreading.

    Comment by Jon — May 6, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

  9. Jon: I would like to know what you refer to in D&C 19 and 76 that says that progression between kingdoms isn’t possible. First, why shouldn’t we take the kingdoms as metaphors for an infinite number of gradations of light? If the glory of those in the telestial kingdom differs as one star differs from another, then there would seem to be innumerable gradations even within a kingdom (which is another way of saying we are not dealint with three discrete degrees, but rather a continuum on an infinite scale). Second, it seems to me that D&C 19 very strongly supports that view that when God says that punishment is eternal he is speaking metaphorically and in a way to get our attention.

    That said, I agree that the statement that bodies are inseperably connected with spirits at resurrection weighs strongly against Geoff’s view of mortal birth into a new world after resurrection. Geoff sort of ignored these scriptural objections. I can see no reason why a person could not progress an change in glory even after receiving a resurrected body.

    So here is a model that has all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of MMP. We receive a body and are resurrected never to be seperated from our bodies again. However, embodied beings can have additional glory added upon them and progress as such without limit. No penal colonies. No problem with finality of judgmement and slamming doors even tho a person may be willing to repent and move on. Moreover, God doesn’t close the door on the so-called 1/3 who decided not to receive a body. If at some time they choose to progress in relationship with God even tho they said no previously, then the door is open to experience a mortality. Moreover, this view has one advantage — it is actually scripturally consistent.

    However, that said, I don’t have strong feelings about this discussion because it is in an area where further light and knowledge must be given so that we can stop stumbling in the dark about it.

    Comment by Blake — May 6, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

  10. I guess I will bow out Geoff, because obviously I don’t make sense or I don’t get it or something.

    Some parting words.

    Where do resurrected Telestial people live forever in our universe? I like to call them “penal planets”-what do you call these places?

    We don’t know what the exact state of these people are and the classic plan does not give specifics on this. It’s the truth. This argument mischaracterizes the classical model, in that says things that it does not. It then argues against that mistaken characterization, at least that is what it appears like to me.

    Moreover, I am not saying it is unknowable or unimportant, merely that it is not known now. You have fundamentally mischaracterized me on the whole issue in saying

    You seem to want to retreat back to the classic “It’s all an incomprehensible mystery so we shouldn’t waste our time with it” strategy when I start asking for alternatives explanations to fill the gaping holes the My Turn on Earth model. . . . Saying “it’s not important” or “it’s incomprehensible” doesn’t really help.

    Let me quote myself (and you accuse me of not reading your posts, and I did read your post).

    By the way, I am not saying that God [or anything else you have mentioned] 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.

    Don’t mischaracterize me. I mean exactly what Blake said when I talk about this.

    However, that said, I don’t have strong feelings about this discussion because it is in an area where further light and knowledge must be given so that we can stop stumbling in the dark about it.

    I end my posts on that note because there has only been so much revealed to us about it and there is only so much we can say about it. There are gaping holes in the classic model (or in MMP for that matter) because there are gaping holes in our knowledge of what the afterlife is like. MMP may well be true, the classic model may also be true. As stated before, we need more light and truth on this matter because we are in the dark on it now.

    I also do end in this way because I wonder why a great intellect like yourself (I mean this sincerely BTW) does not turn your mind to matters we can talk more conclusively about, that bear more directly on our life.

    I rarely comment on metaphysical posts BTW. The only reason I do is that I have some strong feelings about reincarnation (I had to argue against it when asked on my mission) and this seems to be a Mormon version of that teaching.

    With this off my chest, I’ll bow out and won’t come back to the post, because it’s really not a place I can take joy in right now.

    Comment by Nate T. — May 6, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  11. Jon (#6), D&C 19 also defines “eternal” and “endless” as a synonym for “God’s” (or “divine”) and specifically states that the scriptural terms “eternal damnation”, “endless torment”, etc. should not be interpreted as having no (temporal) end (D&C 19:6-7,10-12).

    So we may not conclude that any form of “eternal damnation” is permanent from the scriptural semantics of the word “eternal”.

    Geoff, I repeat my objection that “penal planet” is a pejorative term without foundation in scripture. “glory surpassing all understanding” does not sound like “penal” to me – see my comment at Nine Moons.

    D&C 76 uses the term “world” (v.98,109) to describe what we call the “telestial kingdom”. What does “My Turn on Earth” have to do with it?

    It is worth noting that the scriptures never refer to the three degrees of glory as three different “kingdoms”, but rather as “worlds”, “glories”, “heavens”, or “degrees” within the Kingdom of God (c.f. D&C 76:114, 131:1).

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 6, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

  12. Geoff, my basic assumptions about time and free will are very different from yours. My ideas about eternal punishment were different also, and I don’t think I’ll ever love MMP’s, but I have come so far as to like what Blake says here:

    So here is a model that has all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of MMP. We receive a body and are resurrected never to be seperated from our bodies again. However, embodied beings can have additional glory added upon them and progress as such without limit. No penal colonies. No problem with finality of judgmement and slamming doors even tho a person may be willing to repent and move on. Moreover, God doesn’t close the door on the so-called 1/3 who decided not to receive a body. If at some time they choose to progress in relationship with God even tho they said no previously, then the door is open to experience a mortality. Moreover, this view has one advantage-it is actually scripturally consistent.

    The idea of this kind of progression that includes progress in glory without limit is very appealing to me.

    One of the biggest hurdles with MMP is an acceptable explanation of what happens to our temple sealings. The church is spending an awful lot of money, and lots of nice old people are spending a lot of time making sure that people from this planet in this probation are sealed in the temples. I know you’ve addressed this before, but I don’t really find that explanation convincing.

    Comment by C Jones — May 6, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

  13. Blake’s assertions (and Geoff’s) seem to controvert section 88′s account of the resurection:

    25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law-

    26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be cquickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.

    27 For notwithstanding they die, they also shall arise again, a spiritual body.

    28 They who are of a celestial aspirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.

    29 Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial bglory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.

    32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 6, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

  14. Thanks J. that is a good point.

    As far as answers to a) an b).

    To describe the telestial or terrestrial kingdom as ‘penal colonies’ seems deliberately misleading on your part. These kingdoms represent salvation, and far exceed most people’s expectations of what heaven is like. I just read in discources today, and BY discribed them as being like cities. I do think there will be eternal distinctions of some sort between those that are fully exalted and those who are not. Being sealed or single may be chief amont these differences. But the speration may not be as complete as you make it sound, or as terrible.

    For b) I fail to see how there must be exaltation for all. It seems that may be a motivation for you here. Scripturally it seems there will be many who simply won’t be exalted. I don’t personlly mind a crouded CK, but it appears that might not be the case.

    I might try a challenge back. I asked this somewhere else, I don’t remember where. But I don’t remember any answer.

    Do MMPs ever end, and if so who decides when enough is enough?
    In your view will everyone eventually be exalted – including Satan?

    This may seem extreem, but it appears to be where all this leads if taken to its conclusion.

    Comment by Eric — May 6, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  15. Looks like I missed a bit of action today (Saturday is a special day ya know…) I’ll respond in reverse order.

    Eric – My “penal planet” nickname is obviously me putting a little spin on the subject. But even if these supposed immortal Telestial planets were indescribably beautiful paradises (and I assume they are since the earth is) and even if they were inhabited exclusively by shiny happy people there still is a problem: You are saying our universe is full of non-decaying planets inhabited by immortal people with bodies that look exactly like ours… This is our actual universe we are talking about here. Call me a bit of a naturalist if you will, but I have a difficult time believing that such planets exist in this universe. (I mean these people would live on these planets for billions of years just as a starter…) It seems MUCH more likely to me that we have misunderstood the nature of resurrection and that our progression through the eternities really is best described as “one eternal round”.

    I fail to see how there must be exaltation for all.

    I have never once claimed (nor do I believe) that there should be. I do believe that free will is an inherent part of our sentience and our status as children of God and that as long as we are free to choose then progression and retrogression remain possible. (But that is the subject of the last post, not this one.)

    Do MMPs ever end, and if so who decides when enough is enough?

    I thought I answered this. Sorry if I didn’t. Yes, I believe MMPs end at either exaltation or at the “destruction of the soul”. Therefore no, not everyone will be exalted — souls can be destroyed and as Brigham described it, recycled.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 6, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  16. Stapley – Can you explain what you think that passage adds to the discussion here? I’m not really sure I understand the specific point you had in mind.

    C Jones – I’ll take whatever progress I can get… ;-)

    Mark – I think you are spot on with your D&C 19 point. See my comment to Eric about “penal planets” or immortal Telestial worlds.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 6, 2006 @ 8:03 pm

  17. J: You lost me. Just why do you think these verses disagree with what either Geoff or I have stated. As I read them, they support my view. So you’ll have to give us some explication of what you have in mind…. just as Geoff said.

    Comment by Blake — May 6, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  18. I don’t have much to add except to agree wholeheartedly with Blake (#9). I think the model he suggests is scriptural, and preferable to MMP in every respect.

    In the previous post, cadams posted a bunch of quotes of in favor of progression between kingdoms, but left out my favorite. I know the argument has come up here alrleady, but I like this quote because B.H. Roberts says it so well:

    “It is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the Celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial–that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser order of glory. We can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father’s children along the lines of eternal progression.” (Brigham H. Roberts, Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, 4th Ed. (Salt Lake City, 1925), pg. 415-416, emphasis mine)

    Comment by Jacob — May 6, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

  19. Ok, back to some more responses:

    Nate T. – Sorry you aren’t taking joy in these threads. I’m finding them to be loads of fun.

    Jon – I agree with the response that Blake and Mark gave to your comment. This specific post is directed toward those who buy the idea of progression between kingdoms but reject the MMP concept. The previous post would be the place to argue against post-earthlife progression if you so desired.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  20. Blake – First let me tell you it warms my heart to have someone actually take up the challenge I presented and further to display a full understanding of my position on this. Thanks for that.

    Second, I completely agree with your comments to Jon about the continuum of light and glory issue (I posted specifically on that topic last year) as well as the D&C 19 point.

    I further agree with you that the one quote from Amulek in Alma 11 is the single largest scriptural obstacle to acceptance of an MMP model:

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

    Getting around that verse admittedly would require some work. Some approaches to do so might include hearkening back to D&C 19 (which was revealed to Joseph years after the BoM) where the Lord explained that when he says eternal or forever in scriptures he doesn’t always really mean eternal amounts of time. We could say that this applies to the permanence of resurrection as well. A second approach might be to say Amulek was speaking of the resurrected bodies of the exalted (which is the goal of all the righteous) and was not referring to the bodies of the lower kingdoms crowd. A third approach would be to say that perhaps this new convert Amulek was simply wrong in his opinion and that the opinions of modern prophets like Brigham and Heber C. trump his opinion. Perhaps there are others I could think of as well, but those are a start. I am not saying anyone has to go for any of these explanations, but they suffice for me because I think the other evidence in scriptures and elsewhere is too strong to ignore.

    The model you present is at least moving in a direction that works better than others I have heard. The problem is that it still fails to resolve the a) and b) issues I presented.

    Regarding my issue a): As I mentioned to Eric, even if we don’t call these alleged immortal planets “penal planets” it still leaves us with non-decaying literal planets in our actual universe that are inhabited by people who can never age or die. (These people may have lived there for billions of years already…) Further, you have them living in physical bodies that are just like ours here but that are ever growing or decreasing in “light and glory” as their faith in and relationship with God waxes or wanes. It all sounds so strange to me — I simply can’t buy it. They still have free will, right? They still have the knowledge they had when they were here, right? What about space exploration programs? Couldn’t they leave their planet and visit other worlds? If they all live forever it seems like the knowledge of science and technology would balloon quickly… Anyway, my scientific/naturalistic side is driving this issue for me.

    Your proposed model also doesn’t at all address my issue b). Don’t you think it is odd that our loving Father in Heaven would have innumerable separate families — all in batches that never have contact with each other? Why the separate batches? Why not put us all together in a single family as bothers and sisters? This is especially problematic if one accepts beginningless spirits for mankind in what I have called the “whole-cloth” model. In general I think issue b) arises from the modern revelations on the innumerable inhabited worlds that have passed before. I think we Mormons want to look at the eternities using a creedal paradigm but those revelations about other inhabited planets don’t allow for that.

    So unfortunately your proposed model still fails to address either of the issues I brought up. Those issues mostly arise from the modern revelation about innumberable inhabited planets.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 12:42 am

  21. Jacob,

    Thanks for the additional quote from Roberts. See my comments to Blake on why the model he proposed still fals to address the issues I brought up.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 12:45 am

  22. “You are saying our universe is full of non-decaying planets inhabited by immortal people with bodies that look exactly like ours.”

    Who said the universe was full? We don’t even know at what point we are on the progression spectrum – we may only be one or two generations in the Eternal creative process. Plus, the universe is quite expansive – to claim it is full of “penal planets” would be highly overstated.

    As for where will we all be? I still feel we will all (Celestial-Telestial) be together – our glory will be an individual/personal understanding. Much like those that have had their calling and election made sure may walk among us today.

    Comment by gilgamesh — May 7, 2006 @ 11:49 am

  23. Gligamesh – “Full of” was just a figure of speech. I simply meant “with lots of”.

    I am interested in your suggestion that we will all be together though. I assume you mean that all of the inhabitants of this world will live as immortals on an immortal planet for all eternity… it that right? Where do the sons of perdition live with their resurrected bodies? Also on that same immortal planet?

    I am sympathetic to the idea that people of varying degrees of glory intermingle because I think that is what we see here in mortality (as you mentioned). The sticking point for me is the absurdities that arise from insisting on permanent (as opposed to recurring) resurrection for all people…

    All – Now that I think of it, my “penal planet” objection has much more bite when we consider the fact that our doctrines hold that even sons of perdition will be resurrected to immortal physical bodies. What becomes of them in their unkillable physical bodies? Does God make them eternally float through outer space or do they get a penal planet? Again — it is the absurdities that arise from the idea of permanent resurrection that make me highly skeptical of that notion. And since we are basing the permanent resurrection idea mostly on a single (and non-clarified) quote from the new convert Amulek I have no qualms questioning the idea — especially in light of all the evidence I see against it.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  24. It is worth noting that the scriptures never refer to the three degrees of glory as three different “kingdoms”, but rather as “worlds”, “glories”, “heavens”, or “degrees” within the Kingdom of God (c.f. D&C 76:114, 131:1).

    Mark, D&C 88:20-36 clearly contradicts this statement.

    Blake, J Stapely gave an adequeate response to the progression between kingdoms with his references to the same section. Many thanks J!

    Call me a bit of a naturalist if you will, but I have a difficult time believing that such planets exist in this universe. (I mean these people would live on these planets for billions of years just as a starter…) It seems MUCH more likely to me that we have misunderstood the nature of resurrection and that our progression through the eternities really is best described as “one eternal round”.

    I find this statement hard to reconcile with D&C 88:37 assuming the word ‘space’ means the universe as we know it.

    I realize that most of my thoughts and comments on this post give credence to the “classical” model. While Geoff and others seem to make this out to something which makes God a less loving one because he gives out judgement based on works, I see fairly little wrong with it. Yes, I’ve read most of Geoff’s comments about it makes God not save all his children, including the 1/3- to this I say, so what?

    If the purpose of this life is to come to God, then we should develop faith, repent, be baptized and endure to the end. The problem that I have with most of the alternative models is the way in which they make it seem like we get a ‘second chance’. This would enable those of us who have been given the light of the Gospel another reason to shirk our duties, not bother to develop Christ-like attributes since we get another time and place to do so.

    Doesn’t this go against most of all the Savior’s teachings about enduring to the end, following the straight and narrow, etc? If I can progress between the kingdoms or get another mortal probation, what’s the point of this one? Eat, drink and be merry? While I could see some progression plausible, it seems that the spirit world would be the place in which to gain faith and repent, not in the ressurrected state.

    33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.

    34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

    35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

    36 All kingdoms have a law given;

    37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.

    38 And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.

    39 All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

    One of the biggest hurdles with MMP is an acceptable explanation of what happens to our temple sealings. The church is spending an awful lot of money, and lots of nice old people are spending a lot of time making sure that people from this planet in this probation are sealed in the temples. I know you’ve addressed this before, but I don’t really find that explanation convincing.

    I completely agree. Geoff, Blake and others, if models other than the classical one are in place, then why temples?

    Comment by Jon — May 7, 2006 @ 3:10 pm

  25. Geoff,

    My problem responding to a) and b) is that they seem to rest on a something seeming “odd” to you. #20 is a perfect example of a string of things that seem odd to you, but I can cook up an endless string of these sorts of concerns on any model (certainly on the MMP model). But without getting specific to any model: Doesn’t it seem odd to you to think of God as living on an actual planet. Doesn’t it seem odd to you to imagine living forever? Whether you answer yes or no to these questions is mostly a result of if you believe those things, and if so, how long you have believed them. It may also reflect on your mood at the moment. C.S. Lewis talks about moments after he became Christian when the gospel seemed totally implausible, just like the moments as an atheist when it seemed like there must be something more. So, I am not sure how to make something seem plausible to you. For instance:

    (#20) it still leaves us with non-decaying literal planets in our actual universe that are inhabited by people who can never age or die. (These people may have lived there for billions of years already…)

    We already know about Earth which has a bunch of people living here who have existed for billions of years. I don’t know what suddenly makes it odd if they are non-decaying.

    Further, you have them living in physical bodies that are just like ours here but that are ever growing or decreasing in “light and glory” as their faith in and relationship with God waxes or wanes. It all sounds so strange to me-I simply can’t buy it.

    There is absolutely nothing strange about this to me. Our current physical bodies are capable of growing in light and glory, and we know of prophets who have been transfigured (without dying and resurrecting). This is an example of a physical body growing dramatically in light and glory. What is so strange? You already accept everything you just called strange.

    Comment by Jacob — May 7, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  26. Geoff, first, sorry for the big font, not sure how I did that.

    I am surprised you started by characterizing telestial worlds as “penal-planets” because there is nothing penal about them. The people who go to the telestial kingdom were wicked in mortality, but they spend a thousand years in hell repenting and preparing themselves to live at a telestial level. Thus, it makes sense that they would be provided with a place to continue growing so that they could eventually live and abide by a celestial law. The celestial, terrestrial, and telestial are all full of “former reprobates,” right? In all three places, the people there have repented of their sins from mortality. The difference between the people in various kingdoms is the level of law they are able to live. Do you agree?

    Comment by Jacob — May 7, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

  27. Jon: Blake, J Stapely gave an adequeate response to the progression between kingdoms with his references to the same section.

    No, actually it doesn’t. If you disagree please show me how those verses controvert progression between kingdoms. I’ve reread several times and it ain’t there…

    While Geoff and others seem to make this out to something which makes God a less loving one because he gives out judgement based on works, I see fairly little wrong with it.

    I also believe we are judged based on works. Why would you assume otherwise?

    Yes, I’ve read most of Geoff’s comments about it makes God not save all his children, including the 1/3- to this I say, so what?

    I also don’t believe that God does or should save all of his children. You are apparently fundamentally misunderstanding my position.

    The problem that I have with most of the alternative models is the way in which they make it seem like we get a ‘second chance’.

    This really should be discussed at the other thread. I and others provide all sorts of reasons why loving parents ALWAYS give their own children second chances. Further, Christ himself described his father as a God of second chances very clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. If you would like to discuss this part further please respond at the other thread, though. You are arguing against progression between kingdoms of any kind in this comment after all and progression between kingdoms is the topic of that other thread.

    Doesn’t this go against most of all the Savior’s teachings about enduring to the end, following the straight and narrow, etc?

    Nope. You just have the wrong “end” in mind I think. Again, for purposes of keeping this particular thread on track please take arguments against progression between kingdoms over there. I’d be happy to continue that discussion there. Also, I don’t understand what you hope those verses you quoted in section 88 do for your cause — perhaps you could explain that at the other thread too.

    Last, temples allow for the progression of people in the spirit world. This is true no matter what model one believes in. I don’t see the problem.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

  28. “I am interested in your suggestion that we will all be together though. I assume you mean that all of the inhabitants of this world will live as immortals on an immortal planet for all eternity… it that right? Where do the sons of perdition live with their resurrected bodies? Also on that same immortal planet?”

    That is right – working together, each in it’s sphere.

    Sons of Perdition – I would presume that they would be seperate, because they cannot be in the presence of divinity. I assum the number would be small since we only “know” on one inhabitant so far. I would think that they owuld be granted one last opportunity throughout the eternities to remain where they are or, and this is where I somewhat agree with the MMP, give up their bodies and regress until all self awareness and identity is abolished, allowing their pre-intelligence matter to begin the process of progression again as a new, innocent. Nothing doctrinal in this, jst off-the-cuff speculation.

    Comment by gilgamesh — May 7, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  29. Jacob: We already know about Earth which has a bunch of people living here who have existed for billions of years. I don’t know what suddenly makes it odd if they are non-decaying.

    Well I suppose you have a point… if you are a no death before the fall believer then there is no problem with the immortal planet concept. (There is a whole blog on that subject BTW). I happen to think the Mormon evolutionists are correct in that debate and that the NDBF notion is simply an incorrect and untenable reading of the revelations (even though some modern church leaders did preach it). As I said, I lean toward scientific and naturalistic explanations of these sorts of things in most cases. In my defense, prophets like Brigham had similar pro-science leanings (see some great pro-science quotes from Brigham here).

    Our current physical bodies are capable of growing in light and glory

    I don’t think so. According to the eyewitness accounts Celestial beings literally glow brightly like the sun. Our mortal bodies don’t do that.

    The people who go to the telestial kingdom were wicked in mortality, but they spend a thousand years in hell repenting and preparing themselves to live at a telestial level… The celestial, terrestrial, and telestial are all full of “former reprobates,” right?

    There is a major difference between someone who freely chooses to repent and change their ways permanently and someone who simply “serves their time” and is set free from prison. The Telestials could very well be in the latter group.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

  30. gilgamesh: Nothing doctrinal in this, jst off-the-cuff speculation.

    Now you’re getting into the swing of things! :-)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 7, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

  31. Another question that could be asked: What happens to all the animals? Where do their intelligences go? Instead of taking the stance of Joseph Fielding Smith and proclaiming that they will all resurrect with their perfect “animal” bodies (where will all those resurrected ants go, anyhow?), the MMP model, at least for the animals, sounds pretty good.

    But for us humans? It seems like a far off stretch. For me it’s almost unreconciliable with the scriptures (just like Jon says).

    I say: We’re here to get our bodies, and to experiment with their different uses. Some get that option for less time than others. Like babies. Why would they become Celestialized, even though they didn’t really do anything to merit it?

    I think it all comes down to the revelation given to Abraham: there is an eternal hierarchy of unique intelligences. None of them are the same as any other, with God being at their head. The best of these eternally unique intelligences were somehow given spirit bodies. Some progressed better than the others. They were noble and great. The earth was created and mortality given, not as a place where everyone could progress to become Gods, but as a place where the very very last part of the “exam” would be held for those who were capable of exaltation.

    Those spirits who were “exaltation-worthy” were given the choice before coming: either be born (just to receive a body) and die really quickly (before the age of 8 ), having the assurance of celestialization from the get-go. Or, take the chance and come to earth in a body which is “destined” to live past the 8-year-old mark. The reward for choosing the latter would be the opportunity to attain the highest grade, which is exaltation.

    So it was our choice.

    Now, everyone else who didn’t really stand a chance (based on abilities, and previous failures) of obtaining exaltation were still sent here to earth, to obtain a body and to make things here on earth interesting for everyone else. God’s justice leads to mercy with them. Since many of them were given really harsh conditions to live in, he will show mecry to them by giving them the best place in eternity that they can possibly attain.

    That is my model. It requires a God who knows exactly what the future holds for every single person and particle. It requires a view of time as expounded in the Doctrine and Covenants student manual, section 130, verse 6,7, and 8. It requires the understanding that our agency follows after Adams agency, that is, that we basically only choose one thing or the other. Knowledge or ignorance. Life or death. Good or evil. The Lord of Light, or the Lord of Darkness.

    Comment by Jason — May 8, 2006 @ 5:54 am

  32. Geoff (#29), to be clear, I am not a no-death-before-fall person, but I failed to see the connection you are making between that issue and this one. I simply meant that you and I have both existed for billions and billions of years as individuals (forever actually) . We have to be somewhere, why not a planet?

    According to the eyewitness accounts Celestial beings literally glow brightly like the sun. Our mortal bodies don’t do that.

    According to eyewitness accounts, Joseph Smith would visably glow when he was “in the spirit” and certainly Moses started visably glowing (Ex 34:29). Doesn’t this mean our current bodies can glow when they are filled with the spirit, as all of us would be in a kingdom of glory.

    I am surprised you think a person can get to the telestial kingdom just by “serving time.” Such a view is based on a penal-substitution view of the atonement where people assume once a certain “price” is paid a person can stop suffering. I reject that view in favor of the idea that justice demands we become good before we are saved in a kingdom of glory. I argue for this in my paper in the current Dialogue. I think Alma is the example of what happens to those who experience the “pains of a damned soul.” He didn’t stop suffering until he had a change of heart. I guess it would require a separate thread to hash this out, I don’t want to hijack this one, but it is related in the sense that my own view of the telestial kingdom and its purpose is heavily influenced by this point.

    Comment by Jacob — May 8, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  33. Jason,

    Thanks for the comment and welcome to the Thang. You said:

    I think it all comes down to the revelation given to Abraham: there is an eternal hierarchy of unique intelligences. None of them are the same as any other, with God being at their head.

    The information in Abraham 3 tracks very well to the MMP model as well. If I am reading you correctly, you believe that some intelligences have never not been more intelligent and glorious than the rest — that they (in irreducible form) are superior by nature. I find that very hard to accept. Is there a reason we should accept such ontological inequity?

    Those spirits who were “exaltation-worthy” were given the choice before coming: either be born (just to receive a body) and die really quickly (before the age of 8 ), having the assurance of celestialization from the get-go. Or, take the chance and come to earth in a body which is “destined” to live past the 8-year-old mark. The reward for choosing the latter would be the opportunity to attain the highest grade, which is exaltation.

    You seem to be implying that this mortality is simply a technicality for many people but that others decided to gamble and go for the “big prize” of exaltation. Don’t you think that is sort of a game show view of reality? Very much like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (maybe yours should be called “Who Want to be a God”?) where you can take the guaranteed but lesser celestialized state or take the big gamble (with the risk of eternal damnation) and go for a full mortality here on the hopes of full exaltation.

    As you can probably tell from my restatement of the model, I don’t buy that idea at all…

    Now, everyone else who didn’t really stand a chance (based on abilities, and previous failures) of obtaining exaltation were still sent here to earth, to obtain a body and to make things here on earth interesting for everyone else.

    If huge numbers of people didn’t stand a chance of exaltation then it seems to me AofF #3 must be false doctrine:

    We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    I know it only says “saved”, but there is plenty of evidence that in many cases in the scriptures salvation is equated with exaltation so at best you are on shaky ground here. The other problem you have is a logical one: Why did God send them here if they were not prepared or even capable of being exalted? Why not send them to a later planet after they had enough time to prepare? What kind of loving father throws his own children into a no-win situation like that?

    That is my model. It requires a God who knows exactly what the future holds for every single person and particle.

    This, of course, is a major problem. See here for the whole series on the subject of God’s foreknowledge. In short — he doesn’t’ and can’t have exhaustive foreknowledge if we have real free will. You are free to debate that over at those threads (the longest discussion thread in that series is approaching 400 comments now…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

  34. Jacob,

    Physical bodies are made out of stuff we can discern and we know a few things about the physical matter that makes up our universe and a physical immortal planet full of immortal people in this universe is something I have a hard time believing in. I have a much easier time with the idea that there is “more refined” spirit matter that we cannot yet discern and which does not suffer from the change/decay issues related to physical bodies. I personally assume that exalted resurrected bodies are somehow connected with light and energy so I can buy the idea that they can last forever too. But I am highly skeptical that there are any non-changing physical planets in the universe. (As I said, perhaps I am more of a naturalist than some Mormons..s)

    I am surprised you think a person can get to the telestial kingdom just by “serving time.”

    I was referring to the people who you said “spend a thousand years in hell”. There is no guarantee they are actually repenting there. They still have free will after all and repentance must be freely chosen and entails a “mighty change of heart”.

    I reject that view in favor of the idea that justice demands we become good before we are saved in a kingdom of glory.

    It seems to me that as long as they have free will they could be simply serving their time and paying their debts without ever truly freely choosing to turn to righteousness and God. So who’s to say a thousand years would do the job as you imply? Who says they will ever become good? If they have free will still then surely some would, in fact, become more evil and resentful and bitter in their hearts in that time.

    I think Alma is the example of what happens to those who experience the “pains of a damned soul.” He didn’t stop suffering until he had a change of heart.

    Yes, it worked for Alma Jr., but angelic visits and whatnot failed to make Laman and Lemuel choose to be good. I think free will works against your theory that all will eventually become good.

    I’ll email you about a guest post on this subject though. It is an interesting one and it sounds like you’ve put some real thought into it.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  35. I think free will works against your theory that all will eventually become good.

    Of course, free will is always operative. That is why the gospel provides explicitly for the fact that there will be some groups of people who refuse to repent. The scriptures say that “they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not” (D&C 29:44).

    There is such a thing as “serving time” in the sense of suffering without repenting, but there is no such thing as “paying their debts” since suffering is not a matter of paying a debt. They suffer until the repent–the ones who never repent (ever) are called sons of perdition.

    But I am highly skeptical that there are any non-changing physical planets in the universe.

    Sorry, I haven’t been around here too long. Do you challenge the traditional reading of D&C 131:4 that says God lives on just such a planet? (non-decaying changed to non-changing in your latest post, I am ignoring that change and still talking in terms of non-decaying).

    Comment by Jacob — May 8, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  36. Jacob: They suffer until the repent-the ones who never repent (ever) are called sons of perdition.

    Interesting point. But doesn’t that make this “thousand years in hell” idea sort of moot? They suffer until they repent, therefore the thousand years could be far too long or far too short…

    (BTW – I have speculated that the “thousand years” really just means “a really long time” and that the second resurrection means that they chose “Satan’s plan” here and thus do not qualify for the next mortal probation. That seems to be the pattern we hear about before this life to me.)

    So what do you think happens with the second resurrection? The most common assumption in the church is that the top two kingdoms are resurrected in the first resurrection and the Telestials are resurrected after these thousand years in hell. Do you think Telestials get resurrected as soon as they repent? If so when do the Sons of perdition get resurrected? Is there a literal 1000 year deadline for them?

    Do you challenge the traditional reading of D&C 131:4 that says God lives on just such a planet?

    Well I see nothing there that implies a planet, but if the traditional reading is indeed that God lives on a planet as we understand planets, then yes, I do challenge it. Exalted bodies seem to me to be connected with literal Light somehow. Isaiah described God’s dwelling as “everlasting burnings”. (Brigham went as far as to wonder if God resides in our sun). So I think there is very little evidence that the Godhead resides on some non-decaying planet in the universe. (There is obviously much at play here that we don’t understand yet.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

  37. Sorry, sorry sorry, what a terrible typo to have. D&C 130:4, not 131.

    D&C 130:4 In answer to the question-Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time, according to the planet on which they reside?

    Comment by Jacob — May 8, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

  38. Ahhh – that does make more sense. Nevertheless, I think we would have to utilize a different and more inclusive definition of the word “planet” if we are to reconcile it with the “everlasting burnings” description we get of God’s dwelling place elsewhere in scripture.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

  39. Well, justifying a more “inclusive” interpretation of the plain language of D&C 130 and Abraham 3 based on a literal reading of Isaiah 33:14 seems like a stretch to me. (Especially if you read the whole of Isaiah 33).

    Be that as it may, how would it help things if Brigham was right and God lived on the sun instead of a planet? Are you saying it seems totally unbelievable to you that there would be people living on a planet for billions of years, but you have no trouble believing there are people living on a sun for billions of years?

    In answer to your questions of (#36) I am not committed to the thousand years being literal. I will have no objections if it turns out that “a thousand years” just means a really long time. The thousand years are not important to me as a length of time, but for the opportunity they provide telestials to change from being reprobates to being prepared for a kingdom of glory. I think the minimum requirement for Telestials to be resurrected is that they are prepared to live the law of the telestial kingdom (which may imply more than simply repenting, depending on how you want to define repentance).

    Comment by Jacob — May 8, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

  40. Ok, first let me say that there is nothing specifically in Abraham 3 that supports the notion that God lives on a planet as we define planets — we only learn that Kolob is “star” that is nearest to the throne of God. Second, it must be noted that D&C 130: 4 is simply a question presented to the Prophet, not a revelation from Joseph. His answer to the question (vs. 5) doesn’t address the specific point about God living on a “planet” at all — it answers another point in the question and remains silent on the assumption that the anonymous questioner seems to have had.

    Regarding your second question: I like the idea God having a body that is very umlike ours (perhaps being connected in some fundamental way with light) because it seems that such an idea fits into a coherent big picture for me. That is, resurrection for non-exalted people consists of new mortal bodies on another of the innumerable inhabited planets that our scriptures tell us about (and thus we avoid the problem of innumerable separate batches of our father’s children). Exalted persons are resurrected into a tangible divine body similar to God’s which nevertheless is very different from our notion of tangible bodies. For me that model avoids all sorts of problems (like the ones I’ve mentioned in the last two posts with immortals living for billions of years on non-decaying planets (unless that explains UFOs…)) and it gives us a wonderful explanation of the seeming inequities in life (theodicy). Honestly, I see almost no downside to the idea of MMP and the only notable obstacle I see in scriptures is a passing comment by the new convert Amulek (which I think we could get around in a number of ways). I recognize that I could be dead wrong on this of course, but the evidence doesn’t seem to say I am…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 8, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

  41. Joseph Smith’s answer in D&C 130:5 is as straightforward as it gets: “I answer, Yes.” The “Yes” is specifically answering the question about whether God’s time et al. is according to the planet on which they reside. I am not buying your claim that Joseph was answering a differing part of the question. The next part starts with “But” and is obviously an expansion in which Joseph offered more details on the same topic. He talks about differences between this earth and the one angels/God live on (vs 6-8), and says the earth will become like the one God lives on (vs 8-9) when it is sanctified. I am still counting D&C 130 as evidence against you.

    By the way, in Rough Stone Rolling, Bushman says that William Clayton was the anonymous questioner in D&C 130 (RSR, pg. 486-487) and Bushman also points out that we get many of Joseph’s most important teachings after 1835 in “sermons, conversations, and letters” instead of revelations. He mentions that the “no such thing as immaterial matter” scripture was a “casual aside” of the Prophet to a Methodist preacher taken down by William Clayton (RSR pg. 419). I guess I am not entirely comfortable brushing these scriptures aside just because they did not start with “thus saith the Lord.”

    Now, I can see it is an important point to you that God’s exalted body is much different than the tangible bodies we have, but I am still lost on what the exact difference is and why the difference suggests the MMP model which solves all these problems for you. The connection seems to be that God’s different kind of body doesn’t need to live on a planet. Where does it live? Does it have a certain location? Does it decay? Fill me in on your view of God’s body, so I can understand the rest of you point.

    Comment by Jacob — May 8, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

  42. Geoff (#33), thanks for the warm welcome. You’ve got an interesting blog here. Congrats. BTW, I was just spouting out a model that I don’t know if I really believe, but lots of parts seem plausible to me still.

    You seem to be implying that this mortality is simply a technicality for many people but that others decided to gamble and go for the “big prize” of exaltation. Don’t you think that is sort of a game show view of reality? Very much like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (maybe yours should be called “Who Want to be a God”?) where you can take the guaranteed but lesser celestialized state or take the big gamble (with the risk of eternal damnation) and go for a full mortality here on the hopes of full exaltation.

    Exactly. That was exactly what I was saying. I might be way off (I’m pretty sure I am). But, in what other way can you explain the teaching that babies will be saved? Because, well, they didn’t do anything!

    If huge numbers of people didn’t stand a chance of exaltation then . . . why did God send them here if they were not prepared or even capable of being exalted? Why not send them to a later planet after they had enough time to prepare? What kind of loving father throws his own children into a no-win situation like that?

    It’s pretty clear to me that Abraham teaches that no two intelligences are equal. And if not equal, some must be above others, and have a higher capability than others. This, in light of the rest of the gospel (especially Moses 1:39), tells us that even though some have more ability than others, God tries equally hard to exalt all of his children. But, I believe, exaltation is relative.

    Hence, the different “kingdoms” or grades of glory that extend into eternity. I totally see that they can eternally progress, but (as Talmage taught) the higher ones will be moving upwards too (I don’t think there’s a ceiling on progression), so the difference in glory will always remain for the general population.

    Comment by Jason — May 9, 2006 @ 7:33 am

  43. oh, Geoff, I think it’ll be pretty tough to get around Amulek in Alma 11:45. Yes, I give it to you that he was new to the gospel and he could have said something inaccurate, but, to actually make it into the text what he said had to pass through too many “peer-reviewers” to be overlooked (it is a very direct statement, you know).

    First, Alma wrote it into his account. Surely Alma would have changed it if it had been incorrect. Next it made it past Mormon. Then Joseph Smith. It seems to me then, that Amulek’s inseperable, immortal resurrection must be the truth.

    Comment by Jason — May 9, 2006 @ 10:40 am

  44. Jacob,

    You may be right about section 130. But the text does support my theory that Joseph was using a definition of the word “planet” that is far beyond what we use today:

    5 I answer, Yes. But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.
    6 The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;
    7 But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
    8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.
    (D&C 130:5-8, italics mine)

    I don’t know much about exalted resurrected bodies. We do know they shine like “the brightness of the sun”. We also know they don’t live on planets like the earth. But we also know that this earth is called a “Telestial world”. So while I have no problem envisioning eternal extistences in some very different state than ours now, I am highly skeptical of the notion of immortal people who look like us living on immortal planets in our universe. (Maybe that is just me…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 9, 2006 @ 11:11 am

  45. I am going to let the argument about planets rest for a minute since I really want to understand your point, and I haven’t yet figured out why this point about planets is even important in your view.

    You are saying that you expect God’s body/planet/state to be very different, but you are not saying what the important difference is. I have tried to ask some questions to help clarify your point for me (middle paragraph in #39 and last paragraph in #41) but I not seeing the answer.

    I am tempted to conjecture as to what you point might be and respond, but I am resisting so as not to put words in your mouth.

    Comment by Jacob — May 9, 2006 @ 11:41 am

  46. Jacob,

    I think the most important difference is I believe God’s body is made up of some sort of stuff that is not the kind of decaying matter the entire earth is made of (including our bodies). Nothing too fancy there. The traditional Mormon view of resurrection assumes that immortal resurrected bodies look and feel just like ours — I think that is unlikely (particularly in light of what modern science explains about our universe). The subject is related to MMP because I think any non-exalted resurrected body is made up of the stuff we know about and all of that stuff decays over time. That plays perfectly into my conception of MMP where exalted beings become divine and live in an extremely different state and type of body than us, and non-exalted beings (those who have Telestial, Terrestrial, or even non-exaltation-worthy Celestial characters (aka the noble and great)) receive mortal bodies and further probationary periods. My point about immortal planets with immortal people made out of the stuff like our bodies is that it sounds absurd to me. That leads me back to the MMP solution.

    I suppose one way out of this would be to say that all resurrected bodies are made up of the stuff I am attributing only to the exalted. That would also satisfy my objection about immortal planets in our universe if it were the case because they would all live on “a sea of fire and glass” instead of immortal planets that closely resemble the planets we know of. The problem is that the scriptures seem to mostly limit living in that kind of place to exalted beings. Who knows though? I’d be interested in any theories you have on the subject…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 9, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  47. Jason: But, in what other way can you explain the teaching that babies will be saved?

    It seems to me that MMP works pretty well with that. It assumes that their services were not needed here for whatever reason and that they would best served (or best able to give service) in the next round. I believe God intervenes in those situations when it is the the best long-term spiritual interests of all involved.

    It’s pretty clear to me that Abraham teaches that no two intelligences are equal. And if not equal, some must be above others, and have a higher capability than others.

    You seem to be assuming that the amount of light/glory an intelligence has is a static thing. Just because no two intelligences are equal does not mean that one intelligence (A) that is less glorious that another intelligence (B) at T1 cannot, through freely chosen righteousness, surpass the other so that a T2 (A) is more glorious than (B). So if our “intelligence” or level of glory is always increasing or decreasing based on our free choices, and it also has been that way for at least eons in the pre-existence, why would God choose to send his unprepared children into this “final exam” when he could have sent them to a muc later one?

    I think it’ll be pretty tough to get around Amulek in Alma 11:45

    I can understand that sentiment. I will say that there was only one peer review that really mattered and that was the filter of Joseph Smith (since he was the conduit of the BoM. I personally rank the worldview of 1844 Joseph Smith ahead of his 1828 worldview so that helps me deal with the translation of Amulek’s sermon.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 9, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  48. I suppose one way out of this would be to say that all resurrected bodies are made up of the stuff I am attributing only to the exalted.

    Yes, yes, of course. This is the disconnect I was looking for. I have always assumed this to be the case, and I hadn’t realized you were taking a different view. If you were assuming telestial bodies are made up of the same stuff as our current decaying bodies (only they don’t decay) then I understand why you wouldn’t like that. I assume all resurrected bodies are made out of the good stuff, but have different degrees of glory.

    The problem is that the scriptures seem to mostly limit living in that kind of place to exalted beings.

    Which scriptures limit your “exalted stuff” to only the exalted?

    Comment by Jacob — May 9, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  49. Now, if you are tired of this post, feel free to blow me off. Having solved the problem of immortal planets ;) I am ready to move on to your “batches” concern. This time I’ll try to start by level setting.

    The My Turn on Earth model (which I know you disagree with) says that our Heavenly Parents are continually having more spirit babies, and these babies become the “batches” of new spirits that need a mortal probation on an Earth. If I read you correctly, You don’t like

    1) The idea that these batches of spirits are all actually one family (our siblings) but that we are totally unconnected from them.
    2) That they get one chance and are then sent to a “penal planet” where they are forgotten by God as he moves on to the next batch.

    You have assumed that each batch gets its own telestial world, would it help solve 1) for you if it turned out that the batches are only separate during mortality (where, let’s face it, I am even separated from pretty much everyone in this current batch anyway), but they all mix back together into a big “family” again in their eternal sphere telestial/terrestrial/celestial?

    The first half of 2) about the “one chance” is solved if you believe in progression between kingdoms, which you seem to believe in.

    The second half of 2) about God moving on to the next batch is not a problem in the traditional model any more than in the MMP model. According to MMP, God has one group of children that has reached exaltation and another group that is still spinning their wheels in a mortal probation. God can pay attention to both groups, right? If so, then in the traditional model, there is no reason to think God is not able to pay attention to those in mortality, those who are exalted, and those who are in the telestial kingdom still working their way up to be exalted some day. He can still view all his children as one big family, with his goal being to get them all sealed together in the celestial kingdom.

    Comment by Jacob — May 9, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  50. Jacob,

    Well since I issued the original challenge to describe a viable alternative model to deal with my issues a) and b) I probably ought to continue to play along…

    I am not sure you have presented a viable alternative to my issue about immortal planets. I have assumed that exalted bodies are composed of stuff that is perhaps literally connected with light and that where they live is not a planet as we know it but rather a place that is described in scriptures as a great Urim and Thummin or “sea of glass and fire”. You have suggested that all resurrected bodies are made of the same stuff. I can’t prove you wrong on that, but I do think it is unlikely on several counts. First we are in a Telestial world now and so there could be a pretty good argument that we have Telestial bodies now. But more importantly, the sons of perdition get resurrected too. Are you really going to claim that their resurrected bodies are made of the very same (light-related?) stuff as God’s and further that they live on some variation of a Urim and Thummin or sea of glass and fire like exalted beings do? I think that your proposal has some significant issues like these that need to be addressed before I concede that it makes sense.

    More to come…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 9, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  51. Jacob: The My Turn on Earth model (which I know you disagree with) says that our Heavenly Parents are continually having more spirit babies, and these babies become the “batches” of new spirits that need a mortal probation on an Earth.

    Hmmmm… Not everyone in the My Turn of Earth camp goes for this tripartite model of eternity as far as I can tell. Blake has argued against it in past pretty effectively I think (saying that there is no difference between “intelligences” and “spirits”. I probably should post on this subject separately.

    One thing that model does is give you different start dates for spirits though. That helps explain the justice of a batch theory to some degree.

    So let me see if I understand the model you are proposing.

    1. All get resurrected into bodies that are made of the same stuff that God’s body is made of (even sons of perdition)
    2. Everyone lives in the same place after this life in a place so beautiful that it surpasses all understanding (at least, right?) as one enormous “family”.
    3. In that wonderful immortal place/state all are free to repent and increase in glory (I assume it literally shows in the brightness of their body?) and thus progress upwardly through kingdoms.

    My question then is what obstacle is there to progressing between kingdoms in such a scenario? Wouldn’t exaltation be pretty much assured for all in this picture? If so, why should we sweat over repenting now? This model seems like it is screaming for us to take it easy and procrastinate the day of our repentance here and now to me.

    On the other hand, MMP provides tons of incentive to repent now. Repent or find yourself repeating a difficult mortal life in worse circumstances and with fewer chances you have here. For devout Mormons the message also says repent and be exalted or the promise of an eternal sealing with your spouse will not be realized.

    I must have misunderstood the alternative model you have presented though because it fails to provide significant incentive to avoid procrastination of repentance here and now. Please help me understand it better.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 9, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  52. I must say I find the idea that this earth is a telestial world incoherent for two reasons:

    1. The D&C states that the glory of the telestial “surpasses all understanding”.
    2. The D&C identifies the telestial glory with the post-resurrection salvation of the unjust. Prior to resurrection the heirs of the telestial kingdom predominantly reside in “hell” (spirit prison). c.f. D&C 76:106, Rev 20:5.

    It is also worth noting that the heirs of the telestial kingdom must abide by the law of the same, or inherit a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory (D&C 88:21). D&C 88:32 also implies that there are kingdoms which are not kingdoms of glory, but which are superior to outer darkness, i.e. subject to “quickening” by a portion of glory.

    These kingdoms are those that appear to be on par with the limited glory of the earth as it now stands, where individuals are only quickened with a portion, but not a fulness of telestial, terrestial, or celestial glory (D&C 88:28-31).

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 9, 2006 @ 11:30 pm

  53. Geoff,

    Yea, I was just kidding about having solved your a) concern. Of course you have objections, I would be disappointed if you didn’t.

    You have been arguing that God’s body is “very” different than ours. The difference seems to boil down to the fact that his body is not made of decaying matter (#46). You believe His body is somehow fundamentally connected with light which helps you imagine how it could last forever (#34). You believe in the “more refined” matter which doesn’t change/decay, but you don’t count this matter as “physical” (#34). It seems clear from your first paragraph of #34 that for you, “physical” implies decay (that was throwing me for a loop at first). For me (and in the dictionary I think), the word physical refers to anything that is material. Hopefully I have not mischaracterized your position.

    Now, I totally agree that God’s body does not decay, but I don’t think this requires it to be made of light/energy. Yes, celestial bodies can shine, but clearly, they don’t have to (e.g. Christ on the road to Emmaus or eating fish with the apostles in Luke 24). D&C 130:22-23 says the Father has a body of flesh and bones. D&C 88:28 says the celestials “shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies.” 1 Cor. 15:53 says our corruption will put on incorruption and mortality will put on immortality.

    All of this suggests to me that celestial bodies are physical (i.e. material), but that they do not decay. Perhaps they are made of Joseph Smith’s “more refined” matter, but the scriptures still call them “flesh.” Thus, I believe that God, living on his planet from D&C 130, can be desribed as living on “a physical immortal planet full of immortal people in this universe” which is what you say you have a hard time believing in (#34).

    If I am correct about your meaning of “physical,” then what you really object to is the idea that there are a bunch of telestial worlds made out of decaying matter, but with immortal people. I object to this right along with you.

    Instead, I am suggesting that all resurrected bodies and worlds are made of the more refined matter which does not decay (I think this is basic to the meaning of resurrection). D&C 88:29-31 says bodies can are resurrected with different degrees of glory, but that all of them tel/terr/cel have the capacity to grow in glory (quicked by a portion, then go on to receive a fulness).

    Permit me a recap of D&C 88 because I can’t get by without it on this next part. Verse 13 says the light of Christ is “the law by which all things are governed.” (law=light) Verses 22-24 make it clear that people are divided into different kingdoms based upon their ability to obey the laws of those kingdoms. Verse 34 says that those who are governed by law (i.e. all kingdoms of glory) are “perfected and sanctified by the same.” Thus, you are resurrected at a certain glory based on your ability to obey certain laws, but there is opportunity to be perfected and sanctified by further laws, which equates to greater glory. D&C 76:88 says that the terrestrials will even come down to the telestial kingdom to teach you about their laws so your progression can continue.

    Sons of perdition get resurrected, but to “a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory” (D&C 88:24). (This means they don’t glow like God does.) The specific reason is that “that which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law…Therefore, they must remain filthy still.” (D&C 88:35)

    The fact that the glory of the telestial kingdom “surpasses all understanding” (D&C 76:89) seems like proof enough that it is different than the planet we are on now (I know it is referred to as a telestial world). Thus, I do not believe our current bodies are like those of people resurrected to a telestial glory.

    So, to me, it seems perfectly reasonable (and perfectly scriptural) that all resurrected beings have incorruptible bodies, that they still have the capacity to progress after they are resurrected, that God’s plan is still working on those in the telestial kingdom (witness ministering angels and laws which are designed to perfect and sanctify), and that sons of perdition are resurrected with incorruptible bodies of no glory and “return again to their own place …because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received” (D&C 88:32).

    That’s my suggested model. Fire away. It still remains for me to explain why there is a motivation to repent. This will be easy, but I’ll wait until tomorrow. Sorry for the book.

    Comment by Jacob — May 10, 2006 @ 12:04 am

  54. Nice points Mark. You stole some of my thunder, and I agree with all of your points except I have interpreted D&C 88:32 to be referring to the sons of perdition. It is funny that the scripture says celestial (vs. 29), terrestrial (vs. 30), telestial (vs. 31), and “they who remain” (vs. 32).

    I’d never though to interpret that as you did above. Thanks for the new idea, I’ll have to ponder on it.

    Comment by Jacob — May 10, 2006 @ 12:15 am

  55. Jacob, I have no doubt that many of those “who remain” will live in a state much darker than our present sphere. It simply seems to me the scripture makes the case for sub-telestial society to exist on a broad spectrum – from devilish totalitarianism (a la 2 Nephi 9) to states considerably more ambiguous.

    I completely agree with your analysis re physicality by the the way.

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 10, 2006 @ 7:59 am

  56. Mark and Jacob,

    I think the glory and beauty of the earth does “surpass all understanding”. Who among us fully comprehends and appreciates the true glory and beauty of our planet? Therefore I have no problem at all with the clear teaching that Adam and Eve entered a Telestial world when that arrived here. (I should note that I think there have been people of Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial character inhabiting the earth all along though).

    I’ll spend some time in D&C 88 and comment on that to follow.

    Jacob: Fire away

    Hehe.. Ok…

    It seems to me that you are proposing a type of matter that I’ve never heard of. In the scriptures we learn about “spirit matter” which is more refined than matter we can discern. And science tells us a lot about discernible matter. Are you proposing a third variety of matter that does not decay? A type of matter our of which innumerable immortal planets and people in our universe are made of? Further that everyone from God to the sons of perdition are physically embodies by this type of matter? Forgive my skepticism, but that seems hard to believe and even ad hoc to me…

    terrestrials will even come down to the telestial kingdom to teach you about their laws so your progression can continue.

    Ok, so if Terrestrial “come down” to visit these immortal planets of Telestials then that implies that Terrestrial do indeed live on separate immortal planets. But I thought you implied that all non-exalted resurrected people live together in #49 (maybe you meant all Telestials from all planets live together?) — can you clarify that for me? If Terrestrials do visit, does that mean they have a space program and visit in space shuttles of some kind? What do you have in mind there?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 10, 2006 @ 9:24 am

  57. Something akin to Moroni-style “teleportation” seems much more likely than a space program. I doubt angels need space ships to get around. (c.f. Joseph Smith History 1:43).

    Comment by Mark Butler (II) — May 10, 2006 @ 9:40 am

  58. I almost asked if y’all go for that idea Mark but decided to wait… but do you really think Terrestrials get to “teleport” or move freely throughout the universe just like exalted beings/angels do? (If that were true, this mediocre Terrestrial route is looking better and better all the time!)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 10, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  59. Geoff,

    So let me get this straight. Joseph Smith has this amazing vision open up, and he is told to write it down which he still “in the spirit,” (vs. 28) and he learns a shocking truth (led to a mini apostasy at the time) that Christ glorifies the Father by saving virtually every person in some degree of glory (vs 43-44), where even the lowest degree “surpasses all understanding,” (vs. 89) and you take that to mean that the telestial kingdom is this earth and Joseph Smith saw the equivalent of a beautiful nature scene? Your exegesis baffles me. Are we currently “saved” since we already live in the telestial kingdom where the glory surpasses all understanding?

    I agree with Mark that this Earth provides a model for how ministering angels work. Joseph Smith didn’t mention Moroni stepping out of a spaceship, but he might have parked around the corner.

    I don’t think I am suggesting a third kind of matter. I am suggesting that the kind of flesh and bones God’s body is made of (that’s one of the kinds we already know about, right?) is the same kind of flesh and bone everyone else is resurrected with, but that this kind of body can be coupled with different degrees of glory (from none on up to a lot). This is not ad hoc, but seems to be the straightforward reading of the scriptures I cited before.

    Forgive me if this post comes off as flippant, I am in a good mood today.

    Comment by Jacob — May 10, 2006 @ 10:18 am

  60. Geoff (#58), Joseph Smith said translated beings (like the three nephites) live in a terrestrial order. They seem to be able to get around pretty well without a spaceship (at least from the stories I’ve heard ;)).

    Comment by Jacob — May 10, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  61. Jacob,

    Regarding section 76, I think you have to keep in mind that that knowledge was given to the 1832 version of Joseph Smith. It was a line upon line process and by 1844 Joseph had a very different world view. In 1832 it was a shocking assertion to say that murderers and rapists and other reprobates would eventually end up in a kingdom of glory too (after spending sufficient time in hell of course). So compared to eternal hell it is easy to say that a telestial world like ours had a beauty and glory that surpasses all understanding. Any exegesis of the revelations to Joseph that does not take into account the progression of his ever-changing and growing understanding of the universe is seriously flawed. For instance, I’m certain that the 1832 Joseph Smith would have considered the King Follet Discourse (with the whole God was once a man like you living on a planet like this teaching and all) utter heresy…

    Ministering angels fall under my Celestial/exalted category so I also agree with Mark. The 3 Nephites are presumably also exalted beings so I take the passing speculation by Joseph on their current “terrestrial” state with a grain of salt.

    I am suggesting that the kind of flesh and bones God’s body is made of (that’s one of the kinds we already know about, right?)

    Yeah the flesh and bones verse is a tricky one. I lean toward the idea that exalted persons have bodies that are completely different than non-exalted beings (they certainly can do things that are impossible for mortal bodies) and if so, flesh and bones might not mean what we first think. But that is just a hunch. As I said, exalted bodies seem to be connected with light (based on the whole “brightness of the sun” thing…). I also suspect that the body Jesus had immediately after his resurrection was not his permanent body… but I am guessing on that too. It is the naturalist in me that pushes me in this direction of course. It gets back to my complaint about immortal planets (as we understand planets) in this universe — I suspect they just don’t exist… (We are off the speculation grid for even me at this point.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 10, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

  62. I suspect that in quiet moments, you are not really comfortable disregarding scripture to the degree your are doing it in your last few posts. They are starting to stack up: “flesh and bone” doesn’t mean flesh and bone, planet doesn’t mean planet, Jesus was resurrected into a temporary body (!), saved in the telestial kingdom refers to our current fallen state that we need to be saved from. Since you are brushing off Joseph Smith’s statement as a “passing speculation,” let me give you more of the quote from his 1840 discourse on priesthood:

    Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood … Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets. (History of the Church 4:209-10)

    You’ll notice that he also takes an opposing view to your statement that ministering angels are Celestial/exalted. For more on that point, see D&C 76:86-88 in conjunction with the quote I added in #8 above.

    Now, I still owe you an answer to your question in #51 about why anyone would be motivated to repent on my model. I can’t help myself from pointing out that God used misleading language because he was concerned that the truth wouldn’t be motivating enough for the masses (D&C 19:4,21). However, that is not my real answer.

    Actually, I think this is a very important point. The reason people should not procrastinate their repentance is that wickedness never was, and never is, happiness. The sooner we repent, the sooner we get to start being happy. Your reaction to my model betrays an underlying assumption that wickedness is happiness. To demonstrate what I mean, I could restate your question this way: Why would anyone want to start being happy right away when they could be miserable for a long time and then start being happy later. This is a very common view in the church (sadly). I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about the lucky converts who get to sin sin sin for years before getting baptized. It makes me shake my head and wonder if they really understand that having the gospel and living the commandments is a blessing, not a burden. Luckily, the converts usually get it, and can only wish they had found the church sooner.

    Comment by Jacob — May 10, 2006 @ 5:47 pm

  63. Yeah Jacob, and I suspect that in quite moments you think I’m right too… ;-)

    Let me point out that you are completely off base in accusing me of “disregarding” scripture. By so doing you are using the same tactic as the yahoos who occasionally show up around here preaching things like that the entire earth was completely submerged under water a few thousand years ago and then insisting that anyone who disagrees with them is disregarding scripture. I don’t take you to be that sort of yahoo so I recommend you avoid such tactics. Rather than disregarding the scriptures you mentioned I have addressed them and suggested possible alternative interpretations of them. I admittedly may be wrong in some of my suggested readings, but being wrong in an interpretation is very different than disregarding scripture.

    That said, I appreciate the quote from HC. It is certainly evidence that Joseph felt that translated beings were indeed of a terrestrial order until resurrection. I’ll have to consider the implications of that evidence further.

    Now on to your explanation of the incentive to repent now in the model you are suggesting… I think it is severely lacking on a couple of fronts. First you said:

    God used misleading language because he was concerned that the truth wouldn’t be motivating enough for the masses

    My quibble with this comment is you seem to be assuming the language of the D&C is God’s own words. This is not the case IMO. The D&C is God’s truth as filtered through the mind (and mouth/pen) of Joseph Smith. In other words, I don’t believe that such revelations were dictated word for word to Joseph but rather that pure intelligence was give to Joseph and he used the best words he could to describe that truth. This applies to all revelation, ancient and modern, I think. So if we felt mislead by terms like “eternal” I don’t think God mislead us but rather that the word did the job until God felt the need to add further clarification (line upon line and all). (I should note that I believe that MMP falls into the category of “further clarification” as well…)

    The second answer — that wickedness never was happiness so there is always reason to repent now — misses the point of my question. The point of my question was that I want to know what obstacles there are to repenting and becoming exalted in the glorious Telestial immortal planet you envision. We will be there with glorious immortal bodies with ministering angels popping in to help us all if I read your model correctly. It seems to me that within the first few days every one of those Telestials would realize that there is more happiness and light and glory and joy in repentance and since they presumably retain all their memories of this life as well as a full memory of judgment and the hell/prison they had to go through before getting there they would immediately start repenting. It seems that in no time that Telestial planet would be empty since all would have graduated and moved up toward full exaltation right? If not, why? And please don’t try the “they don’t want to progress” line becuase in the absence of any opposition every sentient being wants more peace and joy.

    Therefore, it seems to me that the only reason your model offers to repent now rather than to get beaten with a few stripes after this life and then be exalted in the end is the insistence that wickedness never was happiness. But since wickedness often does lead to riches and pleasure here and now I think your proposed model provides a less than compelling reason to repent now, to say the least.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 10, 2006 @ 11:55 pm

  64. Geoff, I accept your rebuke in the kind spirit it was offered, and I withdraw my accusation that you are disregarding scripture. I certainly understand your point about the yahoos.

    Just to clarify a tiny bit, I think we all disregard scripture to some extent. We all choose the scriptures that seem foundational to us, and look for ways to “explain” some that seem to disagree with our general approach. For people trying to make sense of the scriptures, it is really unavoidable. I certainly do it. So, that is why I said “to the degree,” but you are quite right that I shouldn’t have said it at all. My apologies.

    As to the telestial salvation, I will readily concede that I don’t know what timetable to expect for progression in the eternities. I don’t assume Telestials can just zip up to become Celestials in a few days. If section 76 is taken literally, they will be at least a thousand years behind in their progress, since they are being beaten with a lot of stripes while everyone else is progressing in a terrestrial state.

    I do think that the ultimate motivation for being righteous is that it leads to happiness. I disagree with your statement that this is not a “compelling reason to repent now.” I think that kind of thinking is portrayed by the “good” son in the parable of the prodigal son. He was mad for precisely this reason, but the parable doesn’t recommend his view. If God turns out to be far more forgiving than everyone suspects here, I am fine with that (D&C 76 certainly was a move in that direction).

    Of course, forgiveness doesn’t take away the requirement that everyone who wants to go to the celestial kingdom must become a celestial being. The longer we spend making ourselves carnally minded, selfish, insensitive, prideful, etc., the harder it is to undo all that bad character-making, and the longer we live in a state that is less wonderful than the one we could be living in. Thus, God told Joseph: “don’t tell anyone about the fact that hell ends, let their incorrect belief in an everlasting hell motivate them. Preach nothing but repentance, and it will be for the best. (D&C 19:4,21).

    Comment by Jacob — May 11, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  65. Hey Jacob,

    My latest post picks up on this conversation. I have one more in mind for it too…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 11, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.