Geoff has written on this topic numerous times, and as I’ve always wanted to bite the hand that feeds me, to see what it’s like, here goes…
Ok, I have thought about this for a while now (more than eleven minutes), and would like to frame the argument for or against MMP. Since I have spent such a long time working on this, I would ask for your help in working through my thoughts. I’ve left enough holes here that we should have plenty to discuss.
Would it be more merciful for our God to allow or require multiple mortal probations of his children?
The answer would be yes if and only if we, as a people had a chance of changing from one status to another via the multiplicity of probations which we would not otherwise have in a single probation. Otherwise, it would be unmerciful of our father in heaven to require us to continually take a test over and over again which we had no possible capability of improving our chances for changing from a lower status to a higher capacity.
The question thus becomes whether MMP increases our ability to reach exaltation (and is thus merciful) or if our ability remains the same (and thus MMP is unmerciful)?
In order to determine an answer to this question, we must first analyze by what criteria our readiness for exaltation is measured. I postulate here that we are measured based on what the scriptures call â€œthe intents of our heartsâ€. While difficult to define, I can say these â€œintents of our heartsâ€ are not merely our thoughts, not merely our feelings, and not merely our doings, these â€œintentsâ€ run deeper than this, and represent our state of being and capacity of becoming. Perhaps a fair synonym to these â€œintentsâ€ would be the will.
I also here hypothesize that while our mind or spirit or intelligence is eternal, these â€œintentsâ€ or our will could not have fully existed or could not have been fully developed prior to our mortal existence, otherwise, our mortal existence in itâ€™s current state would have been unnecessary. (However, I believe our will or â€œintentsâ€ must have partially existed.) Further, these â€œintentsâ€ or our will are probably not be conditional upon location and circumstances of our life within mortality, as that would give some an unfair advantage based not on their own will, but based on the will of God alone. If our â€œintentsâ€ or will are conditional upon location and circumstances, we would need to assume that our God is putting us in the most ideal circumstances he could determine based on what he knows of us and the circumstances.
I make these hypotheses based on the fact that we are born â€œthrough the veilâ€ at the beginning of our mortal probation and thus have no recollection of any prior existence. Our eternal existence is given a â€œclean slateâ€ and we thus become free of all the preexisting outside determining factors upon us, leaving only our own preexistent will or â€œintentsâ€ as determinant upon our course of action in combination with what is further developed as we live our mortal life. Secondly, I am basing these ideas on the concept that the atonement has the capacity to fundamentally change us, being those who are atoned for.
With that foundation of assumptions, let us return to our question: Does MMP increase our ability to reach exaltation, or does MMP leave our ability unchanged?
If our exaltation is dependant on our intents, and our intents are not affected by our circumstances within life, but are only further developed based on the fact that we had life at all and the fact that Christ atoned for us, then MMP does not increase our ability to progress, and is thus unmerciful and unnecessary. That being the case, I reject MMP.