Why preaching the highly questionable notion of no progression between kingdoms might be a good idea

May 11, 2006    By: Geoff J @ 5:45 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,MMP,Theology,Universalism

About a week ago I posted insisting that there must be progression between kingdoms of glory or God is not the loving parent we think of him as. When the discussion thread there exceeded 100 comments I wrote a follow-up post to continue that discussion and to issue a challenge for someone to provide a better model of the eternities than my favorite model. The discussion in that thread has been very informative too. In this post I want to recap the three main positions that have been argued (as I understand them) and point to reasons to reject some models and accept others.

Model 1: My Turn on Earth with NO progression between kingdoms

Yeah, I know that some people like to call this the “classic” model, but I like to call it the My Turn on Earth model because I think it is a bit rudimentary and incomplete as commonly discussed. The basics of the My Turn of Earth model include the idea that we existed prior to the life (some believe forever as spirits, others believe forever as proto-spirits called “intelligences” and more recently as spirits, still other believe that we are instead composed of beginningless parts), God eventually decided we were ready for a “final exam” so he sent us all here to get bodies (after banishing a third part of his own children to outer darkness forever for rebellion, of course), and based on this final exam we all will receive a judgment that will place us in some kingdom of lesser or greater glory. The key is that people in the MToE no-progression camp hold that once that judgment is handed down there is no escaping our assigned kingdom for all eternity.

Model 2: My Turn on Earth with progression between kingdoms

Proponents of this variation accept the basic components of the My Turn on Earth model but reject the notion that assignments to kingdoms of glory are permanent. They believe that repentance and progression remain possible after final judgment in this life.

Model 3: Multiple mortal probations (which includes progression between kingdoms)

This model assumes that the pre-existence of humankind consisted of previous mortal probations like this one on the innumerable inhabited planets spoken of in modern revelation and that the post mortal kingdoms will consist of further mortal probations for all except those who are exalted or who retrogress to the point of “the destruction of the soul”. This is clearly the most radical of the models discussed and is objectionable to many based on that radical nature alone. Other objections include the model’s conflict with the idea of permanent resurrection that Amulek seemed to be teaching.

My Take on these models

Model 1: I argued aggressively against this model in my post from last week. I think it is utterly untenable in light of what we know about God and humankind through modern revelations. Rather than recap that here I recommend you check that post called “Why the idea of permanent judgment is a crock” out.

Model 2: This is the model I want to mostly address in this post. In some ways I fear this model is far more dangerous than Model 1. Based on the long discussions we had after my post late last week, it appears that for many the assumption is that each of the kingdoms of glory are glorious beyond description and that they are filled with repentant and glorious people. Further, the assumption is that everyone there retains a bright recollection of their mortal lives, their pre-mortal lives, and the judgment they received after this life. So basically, in this model everyone apparently sees things as they really are. As such they all fully realize and comprehend that wickedness never was happiness. Further, since they now have perfected bodies they are freed from the temptations that “conceiveth in their hearts” as a result of being here in mortality. But in Model 2 they are free to repent and progress upwardly through kingdoms as well. So basically you have all of the inhabitants of the earth seeing things as they really are and having zero obstacles to progressing between kingdoms in this model. They are rational and sentient beings and all sentient beings desire more happiness and joy so it seems to me that repentance and progression would be inevitable in such a scenario. How long would it take to drain all of the lower kingdoms and have 100% of those people exalted in such a model? My guess is it would take no time at all.

So essentially Model 2 paints a picture of eternity where sin here would at worst cost someone 1000 years in hell (and that would suck of course) but then offers essentially a nearly free ride to exaltation after that. Now while a 1000 years in hell ought to discourage egregious sin, it may not be enough for some people. Further, if one was disposed to egregious sin one could justify “living it up” now in such a model and paying later with the essential assurance that exaltation was around the corner no matter what. A worse problem is that this model provides essentially zero incentive to avoid mediocrity in this life. What value is there to being any better than simply Terrestrial bound “honorable men of the earth” with such a model of eternity? I mean it assumes that the not-egregiously-wicked but also not-valiant of the earth will be part of the first resurrection, will see things as they really are on the other side of the veil, and will have no obstacles to repenting and moving toward exaltation once they get there! If that is not an invitation to take it easy here in mortality I don’t know what is.

So therefore, since Model 2 provides so much less incentive to repent in this life, I think it would be preferable to preach Model 1 of the two (even though I openly think Model 1 is a crock).

Model 3: One of the reasons I like Model 3 is that it avoids the things that make Model 1 untenable but also provides huge incentives and motivation to repent here and now. I explained why it avoids the Model 1 pitfalls in the post last week. It avoids the pitfalls of Model 2 and provides incentive to repent now because it says that if we do not repent improve our characters in our time here we will have to live another mortal probation on another planet in worse conditions that we have here. I don’t care who you are – life can be very difficult and the prospect of living again in worse circumstances than we have here is a very unappealing idea. Further, for Mormons there is incentive to repent and improve our personal relationship with God to the point of exaltation now because only then will we be eternally sealed to our spouses. The temple covenants offer a conditional seal to spouses and only through continually repenting and improving and living up to our promises to God can we receive the promises he has made in return. God offers us all that he has, but only on the condition that we give him all that we have and are.

Any paradigm or model of the eternities that is worth teaching must provide ample incentive to repent now. Therefore, while I believe that Model 3 is by far the best of the models discussed here recently I would preach Model 1 before I would preach Model 2 any day.

(Next time – Why Model 2 is impossible anyway…)


  1. Geoff:

    You’re at it again I see :).

    These discussions have got me thinking a lot about degrees of glory. You are probably not surprised in the least that I consider myself to be in the camp of model 1, but not sure of model 2. Your take on model 2 surprises me. I’m really going to want to dive into degrees of glory in the next few weeks. Any recommended sources in addition to section 76?

    CJones brought up what I thought was an interesting point. I’m sure you have addressed it, I have probably missed or forgotten it. What role does the atonement play in the MMP model. It seems that if you mess up you don’t rely on the atonement, you rely on another probation in this model. I’m sure you have an explanation for this. Care to review it quick or point to the link?

    Thanks for driving the discussion on this. Even though we are not in agreement I am slowly sorting out what the issues are. Thanks for your patience with me.

    I’m torn on model 2. My view is that the degrees or kingdoms are vast with a large range within each. I feel there is some need for a distinction between these kingdoms, but am not sure what that will be other than marital status.

    Comment by Eric — May 11, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

  2. Eric: Any recommended sources in addition to section 76?

    Try my Eternal Progression category. :-) Actually, I suspect there is a continuum of glory and that the 3 degrees described in section 76 are only symbolic of that continuum which is described in greater detail in Abraham 3. See my specific post on that that here.

    See my series on the atonement here, and especially see my Parable of the Pianist post here.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 11, 2006 @ 7:42 pm

  3. Geoff, D&C 19:6 explicitly states that “it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment”, speaking of “endless torment” and “eternal damnation”. While we know that the sons of Perdition will not be brought forth in this salvational epoch, we cannot conclusively say they have no hope of eventual redemption (c.f. D&C 76:43,45).

    Joseph Smith once got on the case of someone who said they would, but he did not contradict them per se, rather he said they had no authority to teach such a principle, and that the fate of such had not been revealed (TPJS p. 24). So the basic answer is we just don’t know.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 11, 2006 @ 9:07 pm

  4. Mark, I completely agree with you on that subject. I hope I didn’t give the impression in this post otherwise.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 11, 2006 @ 9:13 pm

  5. Geoff,

    I think you raise a very legitimate concern about teaching model 2 (I am not convinced it is an argument against the truth of the model). Your argument is strikingly similar to an argument Christ gave for why he allowed the false idea of never-ending damnation to be taught in his very own scriptures (for example Mosiah 2:39 or 2 Ne 9:16):

    6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
    7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
    21 And I command you that you preach naught but repentance, and show not these things unto the world until it is wisdom in me. (D&C 19)

    This clearly says that He thought it more important for people to believe a factually incorrect doctrine (since it would help to save them) rather than a more correct doctrine (since it might lead them to make a stupid decision of not repenting). So, I offer this in support of the position you’ve taken in this post.

    However, it is worth noting that in this very same section He also tells us the drawback to not repenting (spoiler: it is not going to be the fear of another mortal probation):

    4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
    5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
    15 Therefore I command you to repent-repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore-how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not bsuffer if they would repent;
    17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; (D&C 19)

    I know we quote this scripture a lot, but I want to point out a different thing than is usually pointed out. He starts out in verse four with his main point that people must repent or suffer. At this point, in 1830, Joseph Smith would surely have misinterpreted this to mean that people must repent in order to avoid permanent damnation (in the one-heaven-one-hell model). The clarification about damnation not being permanent is there to make sure Joseph doesn’t miss the real point. Christ is saying: It’s not that I’m worried they’ll be lost forever in permanent damnation, it’s that I don’t want them to suffer needlessly for any length of time.

    Verses 15, 16, and 18 make it clear that we cannot be cavalier about how bad the thousand years in hell (of D&C 76:84-85) will be. You said:

    at worst cost someone 1000 years in hell (and that would suck of course)

    I am not accusing you of being cavalier here, but the “suckiness” you refer to is the precise reason Christ cites for why we should repent now (vs. 15), and it is also the reason he gives that Joseph’s preaching should skip the part about hell having an end and focus instead on repentance (vs. 21).

    Comment by Jacob — May 11, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

  6. I understand, Geoff. I am just stating that the idea that everlasting punishment (among several other entities described as “eternal”) is necessarily everlasting (or timeless) is not a conclusion that can be made from the standard semantics of the terms themselves.

    So when we read “eternal law” can we really be sure that the meaning isn’t rather “divinely instituted law”? It is a hard problem because so much of metaphysics depends on the distinction.

    Now, in regard to your criticism of Model 2, I believe you underestimate the difficulty of living a telestial, terrestrial, or celestial law, even if you are perfectly aware of its truth. D&C 88 teaches that this life is a probationary state granted in order to determine the level of law one is willing to incorporate and be sanctified by – and that even after being made fully aware of the facts there will still be some who will reject salvation rather than be required to live a telestial law.

    Now Augustine might say that this unwillingness to make ones actions match ones knowledge of right and wrong is a consequence of a corrupted will inherited from the Fall. I would rather say that it is simply because life, even celestial life is hard – great joys to be sure, but also immense sorrows – Moses 7 has the best example of this in the scriptures, although several Old Testament passages convey the sense of divine frustration as well.

    The scriptures speak about post-mortal service and ministry – any idea of a paradise we strum harps or sit on our back porch and read our favorite philosophers is pretty naive, at least from a scriptural point of view. So the real question of life is how much of a sacrifice are we willing to make – any sacrifice is worth while, but the greater sacrifices will be rewarded not only with greater glory, but greater responsibility as well. There is no glory in idle pursuits – the ministry (broadly conceived) is where the action is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 11, 2006 @ 10:06 pm

  7. Jacob: I think you raise a very legitimate concern about teaching model 2 (I am not convinced it is an argument against the truth of the model).

    Indeed. My primary assault on the truth of Model 2 is set for a post to follow. I ran out of space in this attempt.

    the “suckiness” you refer to is the precise reason Christ cites for why we should repent now (vs. 15)

    Yes, I agree. But the stronger point has to do not with the wicked who will end up in the Telestial kingdom after their time in hell, but rather with the semi righteous. That is, the Terrestrials and the non exalted Celestials (assuming the latter group exists, of course). They are the spiritually C to A- grade recipients. They are not-wicked but also not especially valiant. They aren’t reprobates but they aren’t the Church of the Firstborn either. What incentive do they have to push themselves and to avoid procratinating further repentance while here under your preferred model? Why should they sweat all this law of consecration stuff while here? Why not just attend church weekly, avoid egregious sin, and then finish the job of becoming exalted in that glorious world to come when all opposition and doubt are gone?

    (Mind you, I don’t believe any of that is true. I am just describing a likely attitude one might take if it were an accurate model.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 1:09 am

  8. Mark: I believe you underestimate the difficulty of living a telestial, terrestrial, or celestial law, even if you are perfectly aware of its truth.

    The traditional explanation for the difficulty we have choosing the right even when we know the truth has to do with “the flesh”. That is, our mortal bodies and the influence our genes (nature) and environment (nurture) have on us here on earth make it difficult to do what we feel is right. But in the glorious Telestial or Terrestrial worlds assumed in Model 2 doing what we know is right and will lead to happiness and peace will not be a problem. The model assumes that everyone will have perfected bodies so all of the difficulties associated with “the flesh” will be gone. Further, all will know, nothing doubting, that God lives and the details of what they need to do to attain greater peace and joy. So how would there be any difficulties to living higher laws in that scenario?

    The scriptures speak about post-mortal service and ministry

    Yeah, I take that as more evidence supporting Model 3. Based on the assumptions of Models 1 and 2 everyone will be basically righteous already. Everyone will have perfected bodies and minds. Everyone will know the truth of the Plan of Salvation with absolute certainty. Therefore, after the resurrection where is all of this service and ministry supposed to be taking place? (If it is higher kingdoms visiting and preaching to lower kingdoms that ought to completed in no time at all based on the model as I’ve heard it explained…) What is to stop all from movin’ on up to exaltation right away in Model 2?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 1:30 am

  9. Further, the assumption is that everyone there retains a bright recollection of their mortal lives, their pre-mortal lives, and the judgment they received after this life. So basically, in this model everyone apparently sees things as they really are.

    Why do you assume that we will have a bright recollection of our pre-mortal lives and see things as they really are? I’ve heard that we may never have a recollection of our pre-mortality…but no one really knows.

    Also, maybe this is cultural doctrine rather than truth, but I’ve also heard that repentance will be much much more difficult when we aren’t on earth anymore. This is why we’re encouraged to repent and live righteously here, because after this life everything becomes much harder. Perhaps part of the repentence process requires us to overcome the temptation to repeat the offense. Without the temptation, the repenting becomes quite meaningless, and therefore, unattainable.

    Comment by meems — May 12, 2006 @ 1:44 am

  10. I don’t have much to add, other than I agree more with Eric than I do with model 3 (although I do see it as an interesting possibility). I do want to say thanks though, Geoff. Your refutations of all my points the other day really helped me see how wrong they really were.

    I’m getting married this summer, once I return from Iraq. I really want to be with her forever. I don’t care which model is really true, there’s only one way to make it to eternity with her: Live righteously. That’s my goal.

    PS – Geoff said: I think it [Model 1] is utterly untenable in light of what we know about God and humankind through modern revelations.

    what about the revelations that say past, present, and future are continually before the Lord? What about all the things that have happened that have turned out exactly as God saw (you’d say predicted) they would (i.e. God seeing Martin Harris lose the manuscript, then going and telling Nephi to write another version, and telling Mormon to include that other version in the final text. etc etc)?

    Comment by Jason — May 12, 2006 @ 5:11 am

  11. Geoff,

    I have described my model on your site before, and you have rejected it–I think because we simply disagree on the nature of justice. Nevertheless, some of those you are engaged with at the moment might want to consider it, so I will exploit your comments section to proseltyze.

    My model is a variation of Geoff’s model 1, but allows for eternal progression within each kingdom. It implies no particular geography. The kingdoms are defined solely in terms of the opportunities for progression that each presents–they could overlap geographically (that is, members of all kingdoms could reside on any given planet).

    The most important feature of my model is that progress is multidimensional. The traditional version of model 1 (and, for that matter, Geoff’s other models) views progress as strictly linear, with your kingdom assignment dependent upon which of three segments you land on. Naturally, one would conclude that eternal progression is impossible in the lower two kingdom’s under model 1. (Actually, I could refute that too, but since I reject the linear model, there is no point.) For convenience, I present my model as allowing progress in three dimensions, the meanings of which I leave open, for the moment, to individual interpretation. In the telestial kingdom, you would be limited to progress without constraint along a single dimension–basically the linear model we are used to thinking about. In the terrestrial kingdom, you would be able to progress without constraint in two dimensions. In the celestial kingdom, we would be able to progress without constraint along all three dimensions.

    For me, this model resolves the issue of how those who die in before the age of accountability can be automatic heirs to the celestial kingdom. It does not guarantee that their progression will exceed that of those in other kingdoms, only that it will not be externally constrained. Thus, a celestial being could squander his unconstrained opportunities and make no real progress, while somebody in the telestial kingdom could make enormous progress along the single dimension available to him.

    Within the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms, the trajectory of the line or plane along which each person can progress would be individualized–not everybody would be stuck on the same journey. In view of that, I believe that each person will be satisfied with the opportunities with which they will be presented and the question of jumping kingdoms or getting another chance at mortality will simply never come up.

    Comment by Last Lemming — May 12, 2006 @ 7:05 am

  12. Meems,

    I think that the standard assumption is that “the veil will be lifted” in the next life and that includes the veil of forgetfulness. There is pretty good reason to assume this too I think. If the amnesia we experience upon arriving here is permanent then the personal identity we forged over the eons (or even forever) prior to coming here is obliterated forever. That seems a bit extreme to me. But then, we must face the fact that if our old memories and personal identity will return our current personal identity will be swallowed up in that as well. (See my post on that here.) Nevertheless, it seems to me that the personal identity forged over eons would trump the personal identity we just started here if push came to shove.

    I’ve also heard that repentance will be much much more difficult when we aren’t on earth anymore.

    I’ve heard that speculation too but I’ve never seen a model that would support it. And Jacob would say that such teachings are simply useful fictions used to prod us to repent now rather that procrastinate (see his comment #5). While I doubt repentance will be “much harder” than here I think it will be equally hard, but that is fairly obvious in Model 3 I suppose…

    Without the temptation, the repenting becomes quite meaningless, and therefore, unattainable.

    I agree. I see this as more evidence supporting Model 3.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  13. Geoff, the traditional explanation is due to Augustine. I think it is basically a cop-out – a way to avoid responsibility for one’s actions. There is no good reason to assume the basic emotions and moral struggles not only between good and evil, but between mutually competing goods will be gone. The conflict in the War in Heaven was by Joseph Smith’s account based on a live debate in the presence of good information. The lack of a “fleshly” body didn’t seem to prevent such a serious division from occuring. I believe all available evidence points to a post-mortal emotional and intellectual life much like ours, just stepped up a (big) notch in knowledge and perception.

    This is closely related to what I consider one of the biggest metaphysical fallacies of all time: the idea that “good” is a substance. Going back at least two millennia, many commentators (Augustine among them) have assumed that if the corruption of nature was removed, or we just had more “good” – all disputes would be resolved, everything would be obvious, that “good” would specify the clear answer to all moral and ethical questions. This idea is particular apparent in the first few centuries after Christ, in the heyday of neo-Platonism.

    Ultimately it is a fundamental question of metaphysics that is closely related to divine discretion. If God’s creative activity was timeless and atemporal as Aquinas held, his character could safely be considered the “ground of all being” and his will the ground of all good, without the weaknesses of the temporal complement, the Divine Command Theory.

    Well Ockham opened a door that no one has ever been able to shut since – basically that if God is a temporal being, then his will cannot be strictly identified with the “good” lest the “good” become arbitrary. Ockham had sort of a temporal / atemporal hybrid position on the matter, but his successors weren’t so lucky – in fact their theological excesses directly inspired the Protestant counter-reaction, which solved the problem by making God more absolute, sovereign, and deterministic than anyone had conceived for a thousand years. Free will was dumped for a reason.

    The Protestant solution didn’t work in the long run of course – it set the stage for the religious / secular, reason / revelation divide that so afflicts us today. Religious arguments tend to proceed from 1500 year old philosophical premises, and secular arguments cannot seem to give spiritual considerations any credit. Both tend to say that morality is arbitrary in one of four different ways – 1) that good is *determinatively* founded in timelessly eternal ideals, 2) that good is founded in the will of God, 3) that good is an artifact of biological evolution, or 4) that good is a matter of social convention. All four solutions, standing alone have serious weaknesses.

    Now on accounts (1) or (2), it might be plausible that an outpouring of grace or the Spirit on a person might give him the answer to all moral and ethical questions forever more. On that model, the quickest way to happiness is complete surrender – not just mere discipleship, but seeking the detailed and determinative will of God or an inspired knowledge of the determinative eternal ideals in all things.

    The first problem with that theory is that it de-values free will. Is not the good in many situations a partial function of our wants and desires? The scriptures give abundant evidence that it is. Does God command in all things? No. Does he even have a determinative opinion about the outcome of all questions of ethics and administration? An opinion almost certainly, a determinative opinion I highly doubt.

    Why hold a Council in Heaven? To merely get buy in to a plan that was set from the start, or to invite actual participation? In my view, the latter – and I believe that principle of participation, also known as the law of common consent, is evidence that the “good” is not solely a matter of fixed ideals, nor the will of God alone, but partially a matter of social consent and that all three factors, plus other physical constraints are reflected in our biological makeup.

    Other than the heritage of Augustine and some philosophical fellow travelers where do we get the idea that nature, our biological nature in particular, is inherently corrupt? It is certainly wild and in need of discipline – but the idea that our natural desires and passions our founded in blackness is an echo of Manicheeism.

    The scriptural perspective is generally rather that it is souls or spirits where true moral responsibility lies – that we do evil not because of a corrupted nature, but because of factors far more fundamental. As the scripture says, “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17. Also, “Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.” – D&C 93:31.

    Ultimately it is a matter of free will – the ability to not only reject good when it is plainly manifest unto us, but to have different wants, preferences and desires, desires which the Lord will very often supply simply because we desire it, sometimes just to teach us a lesson, but more often because good it not some simple monotonic substance, but a partial function of our desires, for no other reason than we want it. Strawberry instead of chocolate, Jazz instead of classical, Bach instead of Beethoven and so on.

    Is there a metaphysical law of nature that says deacon’s quorums should have no more than 12 members, teacher’s 24, and priest’s 48? There may be some heavenly history and rationale behind it, but metaphysically? Whether there should be 12 or 16 members is exactly the sort of thing that gets determined by convention. We show respect and reverence by following such inspired constraints, but the idea that God might not very well have done it otherwise is borderline ridiculous.

    I should get back to work, but my point is that many questions of good versus evil are inherent in any society of freely willed individuals – and there is no reason to expect that any amount of knowledge and inspiration will reduce all disagreements about policies and preferences, needs and desires, to mere nullities. In fact, the very possibility of competing goods is what makes life so interesting, and gives substance to the very concepts of authority and creativity, discretion and stewardship.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 9:27 am

  14. One more thing Geoff – if you are going to place several related positions in the same category, or model, it is necessary to focus on the essential features of a category, and not the unnecessary artifacts. Some precept of common belief may very well be unfounded, but if a model does not depend on it, it is to the detriment of the holders of the precept, not to the detriment of the model itself. Otherwise one is criticizing a straw man or effectively engaging in guilt by association. Characterization is fun – see G.K. Chesterton’s article Brad linked to, but it usually only works when one is preaching to the choir, rather than trying to persuade holders of the opposite view.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  15. Jason: I don’t care which model is really true, there’s only one way to make it to eternity with her: Live righteously. That’s my goal.

    Excellent call, mate (and congratulations on your engagement!). One thing that is absolutely certain to me is that repenting and drawing nearer to God is always the right thing to do

    Regarding the foreknowledge question, see my foreknowledge series here. That subject has generated more debate around these parts than any other.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 9:40 am

  16. Or in other words, one needs to make the best possible argument for the most general alternative model, and then show why it fails, rather than reading in assumptions that many adherents of the alternative are likely to disagree with without a compelling argument as to why they are necessary. Aquinas did this very well – he often made better arguments for positions he disagreed with than the proponents themselves, but then went on to often demonstrate superior evidence for a different view.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  17. Mark,

    Very much enjoyed your comments in #13, especially with regard to the “lively debate in the presence of good information.” Thanks.

    Comment by Jacob — May 12, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  18. Last Lemming,

    I remember that conversation now. I have trouble comprehending what you are getting at though because I see spiritual progression not so much in the linear vs. 3D terms you are describing but rather as relationship oriented. The closer we grow in relationship to God the more we become like him. It’s pretty simple in my view. I think my Parable of the Pianist captures the idea pretty well. It is simply a matter of being in a loving relationship with our savior and father in heaven and becoming more like them over time (or not). Because I believe we retain free will for a long as we exist and because such loving relationships are the result of free choices my point in the original post of these three was that God will never reject our return to loving relationship with him. This applies to all of his children who freely choose to turn to him in love, from sons of perdition and up. We are all comparable to the prodigal son and there will never be a time when there is a God-imposed limit on our potential because that would necessarily imply a God-imposed limit to the closeness of our loving relationship with him. Rather than limiting that relationship, I think God will always want us to become one with him, regardless of what “kingdom” we merit as a result of our choices in this life.

    So based on that paradigm I could not accept any view that says God imposes limits on our “progress”. To me such limits translate directly to limits on how close he is willing to allow our personal relationship with him to grow.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 11:22 am

  19. Geoff, you said: “…incentive to repent now because it says that if we do not repent improve our characters in our time here we will have to live another mortal probation on another planet in worse conditions that we have here.”

    If that is correct, then all you low life scum-bags / primative african tribesmen deserve exactly the position you “earned” on this earth….based on your previous earthlife. Maybe if I’m bad enough in this earthlife I’ll comeback as a cow….no maybe I have that backwards.

    Comment by don — May 12, 2006 @ 11:34 am

  20. Mark (#13),

    The conflict in the War in Heaven was by Joseph Smith’s account based on a live debate in the presence of good information. The lack of a “fleshly” body didn’t seem to prevent such a serious division from occuring.

    First, I think that we are in the middle of the war in heaven now and that we didn’t lack a fleshly body in much of the pre-earth portion of this war/council. See my specific post on that here.

    There is no good reason to assume the basic emotions and moral struggles not only between good and evil, but between mutually competing goods will be gone.

    Actually, I think there is. First I think in terms of moral theories, Blake’s “Law of Love” is in fact the best I’ve heard. Most (or all) of our moral struggles here center around the three categories of sin we learn about in the scriptures which I have dubbed “the Devil’s GPA“:

    – G is for Greed and Getting Gain (and power associated with gain);
    – P is for Pride and Prominence and Popularity and Praise of men (and the power associated with that);
    – A is for Appetites and Addictions.

    Anyway, it seems to me that the temptations that we face in mortality with these categories will be mostly absent in the models 1 and 2 as I understand them. For instance, in the indescribably glorious Terrestrial kingdom how much temptation will there be for those people with their perfected bodies to get gain? How much substance abuse or rampant lasciviousness will they deal with? Perhaps they will have Pride issues, but it seems to me that they will be well aware of the fact that loving one another is righteous and leads to happiness and not loving one another is wickedness and wickedness never was happiness. On top of that, there will supposedly be no sickness or poverty or even ugly people in this glorious place. Therefore many of the obstacles to choosing the right that we face will be gone as I understand it.

    where do we get the idea that nature, our biological nature in particular, is inherently corrupt?

    I certainly don’t have that idea. I think you have read too far into my comment. However, even though I am a vigorous defender of libertarian free will I am not blind to the existence of deterministic forces and external influences in the universe. I have posted twice on that subject here. The scriptures also make it clear that because of the external influence of our environments and bodies on our spirits we all sin. These influences are usually called “the traditions of men” and “the flesh”. For instance, a person here might have a strong propensity toward a bad temper as a result of the genes she inherits in her mortal body and/or because of the environment in which she was raised. She can and should use her free will to overcome those propensities here of course. But what of a newly resurrected Terrestrial person? Neither her genes nor her environment work against her to create a propensity to rage. That is the problem I am referring to here. What are the obstacles to always choosing love and always choosing the right in such a model?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

  21. Mark,

    Good advice on trying harder to present these models I reject in the best light I can. I see the wisdom in doing that and you are right that creating straw men (intentionally or inadvertantly) doesn’t do much good.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 12:39 pm

  22. Don,

    I think you are using the wrong measuring stick in your comment. “Low-life scum bags” become such by choice, not by birth. And there is certainly nothing wrong with being born a primitive african tribesman (I know you don’t mean to link the two but the way you worded that was unfortunate…) For instance, the great prophet Abraham was basically a primitive tribesman himself and no one would say he was born in such circumstances as a punishment. He was one of the noble and great ones prior this earth after all!

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

  23. By the way, the general theory as to the difference between the kingdoms and the difficultly of voluntarily progressing between them is based on the idea that in some sense our bodies, and hence our fundamental capacities will be materially different – as different in each kingdom as our physical bodies today are different from our pre-mortal spiritual bodies for example. The implied consequence, is that moving from one “kingdom” (actually fundamental level of glory) would require divine intervention on the order of a resurrection, or a translation – certainly possible, but not simply a matter of incremental progression like turning up the dimmer for a light bulb. Some sort of fundamental material change is required.

    This argument proceeds from several scriptural references. Most of them are found in Paul in the New Testament – including (especially) 1 Corinthians 15, where the terms originate in the first place. Paul’s point is the basic difference between a natural body and a spiritual body, and the need for a resurrection to accomplish the transformation – that a man must die in order to be quickened.

    Of course we need to be careful about terms – in this context a post-mortal “spiritual” body is not the same thing as a pre-mortal spiritual body. The bivalence is just an artifact of language. Our whole theology of degrees of glory implies there are at least five different kinds of bodies, each with fundamental differences in material construction – or as Paul says: “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial,…” and so on.

    The other considerations proceed from what it means for the righteous to “dwell in everlasting burnings” (Isa 33:14-16), for God to be a “consuming fire” (Deut 4:24, Heb 12:29), and why it is normally necessary to be transfigured to stand in his presence (Moses 1:11), but not to stand in the presence of an ordinary angel or spirit.

    On that account, a being with a telestial body could not abide a celestial glory without being transfigured. In order to abide it on a continuing basis, he or she would need to be fundamentally translated or transformed to have a body with a construction capable of handling the load – the very same weight of glory that apparently makes God’s most supernal properties possible in the first place.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  24. I agree Mark.

    I should also note that I based my descriptions of Models 1 and 2 in this post largely on the descriptions Jacob gave them as we discussed the subject in the last post on this general topic. I used those because I think his view mirrors the basic view of a large percentage of people in the church. So I was trying to be true to the model as described to me rather than creating a straw man. If the models appears like straw men to you I think that is more representative of the weakness in the models than anything else…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  25. Geoff, I think the “A” of your GPA will likely be somewhat reduced, in general I think all three are only tamed by discipline, whether in this life or in the next. They appear to come from factors that are fundamental to existence as free willed beings – in particular they were manifest prior to this mortal life – as the scripture says – the sin of Lucifer was a simple matter of pride. (c.f. Isaiah 14:13, D&C 29:36).

    Now as far as ethical theories go, “the Law of Love” is a most excellent one. However, like any modern meta-ethics, it is not reducable to a monotonic sense of good vs evil, in the manner of being adequate to absolutely determine which of two options or moral schemas is to be preferred. i.e. it cannot tell us whether chocolate ice cream is better than strawberry ice cream or (with certainty) whether Confucianism is better than Buddhism. Too much of the latter is a matter of cultural implementation – too many issues that have little bearing on loving relationships per se, even in a culture/philosophy like Confucianism that is founded on that very concept.

    So my point is that one cannot go around like Augustine and say that “nature” is what corrupts our wills – natural defects can certainly reduce our natural capacities like brain function and so on, but we have no basis for concluding that nature per se is either good or evil, except to the degree that purpose is imposed on it by divine design, or insofar as its constraints either block or make possible superior aims, or to the degree that we project our own preferences and perspectives upon it.

    Natural law is so much superior to outright chaos that we might certainly identify it with the good, but where out there in nature is a principle of evil? Those little electrons are not plotting against us – and Schroedinger’s equation is not a grand conspiracy. In general baseline, metaphysical nature (prior to divine creative activity) is neither good nor evil. It is like a computer “it just runs programs” – Short Circuit notwithstanding.

    It is only the will of free agents than can be said to be truly good or evil – that is where the true locus of moral responsibility lies. Nature does not bear evil like a disease. Any good or evil in nature lies not in metaphysical laws, but in the relative consequences of its purposeful or unwitting construction on our collective purposes. A virus, a fly, a tiger, etc. may very well be “red in tooth and claw”, but that is not nature’s fault – “nature” couldn’t care less – in fact “nature” doesn’t care at all – people care.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

  26. Mark,

    I’m afraid you lost me with that last comment. I am not arguing against the fact that moral responsibility lies in the will of free agents. If that is your main point you are preaching to the choir.

    The question at hand is whether Model 2 provides any significant barriers to progressing toward exaltation once a person is resurrected in any “kingdom of glory”. If not then my argument is that the kingdoms of glory are essentially free rides to exaltation in Model 2. If Model 2 does in fact assume that the kingdoms of glory are free rides to exaltation then I believe it is not only false but also a dangerous procrastination-inducing view of the eternities. It is clear to me that some believers in Model 2 do believe that all obstacles will be removed and there will be a free ride to exaltation after this life. In fact, Don just put up a post saying as much.

    This post is focusing on the dangers of believing or teaching Model 2. My follow up post will explain why Model 2 is not even possible. My comments to you so far have been to point out that based on the most common view of how things will be in the kingdoms of glory there will in fact be no obstacles to exaltation (as Don hopes.) So I’m looking now for either a different variant on Model 2, or an explanation of what the obstacles could possibly be. Hearkening back to the pre-mortal pride of Satan or war in heaven are unimpressive to me because I think Satan is mostly allegorical representing all of our pride in pre-mortal lives in those stories anyway. Further, I think we probably were living previous mortal lives in that battle of the war to begin with.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

  27. (#23 #24)

    It is true I argued in the previous post that all resurrected bodies are made of essentially the same “stuff.” In the previous post, the point under debate was whether bodies resurrected to a telestial glory decay or not, and I was saying that I believe they do not decay.

    I know that many people in the church have argued that the bodies of telestial/terrestrial/celestial people are different in some way (notably, Joseph Fielding Smith used this as an argument against progression between kingdoms). I have never been convinced that there is any meaning behind the distiction being drawn (although I am open to being convinced). We have examples of people on earth being translated to a higher degree of glory, without dying and being resurrected. I see no reason (other than perhaps finding meaning in the verses in 1 Cor Mark cited) to say that the different bodies are made of a different material. I am a big fan of James and the pragmatic method, and don’t really see what the “cash-value” of the differences between the bodies would be. However, if you come up with something concrete, like whether or not they all decay, then I can understand what we’re talking about.

    Comment by Jacob — May 12, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  28. Geoff,

    A lot of your current argument is geared toward attacking the idea of progression outside of the kind of life we live here on Earth. I am curious what kind of celestial progression you allow for, and on what principle. For example, I am interested in pressing you along these lines: Wouldn’t everyone in the celestial kingdom quickly max out in their progression (their closeness to God on your model), and if so, is there any substantive meaning to the concept of eternal progression in your view?

    Comment by Jacob — May 12, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  29. Geoff, you’re right my reference to “low life scumbags” and primative African tribesman was not a very good description of what I meant. What I see as a problem with MMP and getting in this life what we deserved based on the last life is: Those who die prior to accountability get a Celestial Resurrection. What did that quick death after birth gain that they didn’t have in their last earthlife probation? Why didn’t they just skip this one more time earthlife and go directly to the Celestial Kingdom from the last life?

    And it does seem to me that those born into dire circumstances, dark ages, primative tribes, without a chance to hear the gospel all deserve it. They got what they deserved and you got what you deserve….lucky you were so good in the last life huh?

    Comment by don — May 12, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  30. Jacob – I don’t have many ideas about what constitutes progression for members of the Godhead beyond the normal hazy ideas that we hear in any model. One thing that MMP claims is that part of the progression of divine persons is eventually doing for other planets what Jesus did for ours. I also happen to lean toward Blake’s idea that all divine persons become unified in the same single Godhead rather than envisioning loads of independent “gods” in existence. It does seem to me that the scriptures declare that the primary work and glory of the one Godhead (and who knows how many already belong to the extended Godhead) is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”. I think this is an eternal truth and applies to each inhabited planet; past, present, and future.

    Don – The question about children who die and the statements about their Celestial status is certainly no more difficult to deal with in an MMP model than it is with the My Turn on Earth models. If anything, MMP has a leg up on dealing with it since missing this particular probationary state is not as big of a deal because there will be innumerable future opportunities for mortal experiences. I should also note that I have previously opined that it makes the most sense to me that even people of Celestial character can have mortal probations. The scriptures claim gradation even among Celestial-charactered people after all. My guess is that mortal probations continue for the righteous until they are actually exalted. So one could speculate that the services of these noble and great ones were not needed here. Who knows… Do you have a good solution to that issue?

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

  31. Jacob, I don’t believe that telestial, terrestrial, and celestial bodies are made out different categories of matter so much as that they differ in construction, or that their fundamental components – particles, fields, what have you – are “assembled” in a different way. we believe that spirits are composed of matter, only more fine and pure – the same basic idea.

    A resurrected person can appear as a normal human being (glory “turned off”) and we can touch and feel them – that is the evidence of the account of Christ’s resurrection, a principle explicitly commented on by Joseph Smith while explaining the untenability of the idea of “immaterial matter” or the idea that the spirit world consists of quasi-Platonic forms of pure thought or ideality.

    But they can also (at least some of them) ascend into heaven and descend likewise, and appear in power and great glory. There is ample reason to believe this requires are different material configuration than we are familiar with. One of the best scriptural references for this idea is Philippians 3:20-21 –

    “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

    i.e. according to Paul the power of God to “subdue all things” is in large part due to the “fashioning” of his glorious body, a (re-)fashioning that we may likewise expect if we are faithful – changing our “vile” body into one like unto his.

    Speaking of “vile” – I think the whole doctrine of “original sin” is simply a misreading of Paul’s rhetorical emphasis of the distinction between our current natural body and a glorified resurrected body.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  32. Geoff, my point is simply that no one has ever been able to come up with a coherent exposition of why “nature” is bad. Deprivation of grace (i.e. “less good”) is one thing, but the idea that “nature” is bad has no rational basis. In fact, ironically enough, the Book of Mormon describes nature as superior to the fickleness of mankind. The D&C describes the earth as obeying a celestial law – indeed the uniquely Mormon perspective is that nature is superior to us – that (horror of horrors) we are the origin of the wickedness that blights the earth – which somehow longs to be relieved of its horrible burden.

    The scriptural perspective is that the human body is of divine origin – the pinnacle of God’s creative activity – so how is it that it all the sudden becomes infested with darkness, predisposing mankind to every form of evil? That is silly – matter isn’t evil, and neither is the human body. Parley P. Pratt wrote a whole book on the topic – taking the exact opposite position of the Protestant sectarians of the day – arguing that the Spirit will teach us the true intent and proper function of every bodily passion.

    That is where Mormonism gets its unique “heaven on earth”, Zion society character. To Augustine and especially his Protestant heirs, this world was a dark shadow – a City of Man, where we can but wait in pious anticipation of the advent of the City of God. Classical Mormonism is the opposite – “Heaven. Here. Now.” we say.

    Save the contrary perspective that we absorb from our Protestant associates by osmosis – there is no theological obstacle to prevent us from that goal – no necessary deprivation, no non-uprootable sin or predisposition in our hearts. A Zion on Earth is more a matter of repentance, will, preparation, unity, and the accompanying outpouring of grace than some sort of natural impossibility.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

  33. I should also note that I based my descriptions of Models 1 and 2 in this post largely on the descriptions Jacob gave them as we discussed the subject in the last post on this general topic. I used those because I think his view mirrors the basic view of a large percentage of people in the church.

    You’re right about that- and I am now completely bewildered.

    Comment by C Jones — May 12, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  34. The problem is the fundamental aspects of Models 1 and 2 are directly derived from the scriptures – all of those principles have to be incorporated or explained in Model 3 for it to be convincing.

    Or in short I should say that Joseph Fielding Smith and his predecessors did their homework – and though we might quibble with some of their conclusions, the basic outline is theologically and scripturally solid.

    The key accounts of pre and post mortal life are contained in:

    Isaiah 54, 65
    Matthew 20
    1 Corinthians 15
    Philippians 3
    1 Peter 3
    Revelations 20
    2 Ne 2, 9
    Alma 11,12,42
    D&C 19
    D&C 29
    D&C 76
    D&C 88
    D&C 93
    D&C 132
    D&C 138
    Abraham 3

    This life as a “probationary state” is an idea that is all over the Book of Mormon, notably 2 Ne 9 and Alma 12, 42. The punishment the Book of Mormon describes is “hell” or spirit prison. The D&C reveals that this punishment is not temporally everlasting, and that missionary work and repentance will occur there – that is right there will literally be missionaries in hell – no doubt islands of hospice in a dark place. The D&C vision of spirit prison is as much reformatory or penitentiary as punitive, perhaps more so. (And have we any reason to believe that the punishment is actually divinely inflicted? Joseph Smith taught otherwise).

    And then of course we have the Millennium proper, where those who “died without law” will be resurrected and be able to accept the gospel. So in a fundamental sense we already have at least three probations: our pre-mortal existence, or first estate, our mortal existence, or second estate, our tenure in the spirit world, and for most of us, our tenure in the millenial world. All of that precedes the “final” judgment – and by all appearances it is a pretty comprehensive system that gives more than ample opportunity for people to repent and accept the gospel prior to receiving their (initial) assignment to a degree of glory.

    This “MToE” model is right out of the scriptures – one might quibble about aspects of finality and progression based on moral considerations, but there seems to be no scriptural evidence whatsoever for more than one mortal probation as we know it. MMP doesn’t really solve any problems, certainly far fewer than it creates – that is why it is interesting speculation, but bad theology – where is the foundation?

    Does MMP re-entry occur after a tenure in the spirit world, whether “paradise” or prison? Does it occur prior to or after the millennium? Does it occur contemporaneously as the “final” judgment described in Revelations 20? And where can we find any canonical support for the idea at all?

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

  35. Geoff, I don’t have any answers about the importance of earthlife for those who die as infants. One answer goes back to the fore knowledge of God. If He does know everything, the end from the begining, then I guess He would know that all these spirts need is a quick earthlife with 1,000 year millenium to finish the job of getting them exalted.

    Comment by don — May 12, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

  36. Mark,

    Lots of things to respond to in the last few comments —

    But they can also (at least some of them) ascend into heaven and descend likewise, and appear in power and great glory.

    This and every other thing you are saying about resurrected bodies apply to exalted resurrected persons. Is there any evidence in scriptures that they apply to non-exalted persons too? Has a visit from a non-exalted resurrected person ever been recorded?

    no one has ever been able to come up with a coherent exposition of why “nature” is bad.

    Who here said it was? You keep arguing against this position and I remain baffled about who you are directing these arguments against. Look, my position is not that nature is “bad” and it never has been. See these two posts for my position. In short, I believe that even though we have the ability to freely choose independent of all external causes, we do so extremely rarely; most of the time we are causally determined. I have argued that the “natural man” is essentially the causally determined man. I was very pleased to read that Blake uses essentially the same argument to explain why all people sin in this life in his book as well.

    The problem is the fundamental aspects of Models 1 and 2 are directly derived from the scriptures

    I see MMP in the scriptures. You are making the common mistake of assuming your interpretation is the only true and living way to read the scriptures here. I am of the opinion that the King Follet Discourse and Sermon in the Grove from Joseph Smith in 1844 changed everything. It gave us an entirely new set of goggles or paradigm to view the scripture through. Through that new lens I contend (along with Heber C. Kimball and friends) that MMP is the best model to explain the eternities.

    So I am very familiar with all of the chapters you cited. The only verse out of all of them that has any real bite against the MMP model is a comment by Amulek and I think there are several ways to interpret that in order to allow for the model as well.

    MMP doesn’t really solve any problems, certainly far fewer than it creates – that is why it is interesting speculation, but bad theology

    You are just plain wrong on this one. Here is a series of posts to show you why. Further, just claiming it is so does not make it so. You’ll need to back up such bold assertions. The MMP model fits well with all of your points in comment #34. (See that link for more details)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

  37. Don: If He does know everything, the end from the begining, then I guess He would know that all these spirts need is a quick earthlife with 1,000 year millenium to finish the job of getting them exalted.

    You clearly take this 1000 years thing far more literally than I do. Nevertheless, your view of the millenium is exactly the type of procrastination-inducing view I am attacking in this post.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 12, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  38. Geoff, My comments on the nature is bad thing were in response to your argument that it is the limitations of our “flesh” that keep us from doing the things that we know are right. My point is that position is the heritage of Augustine, with no serious scriptural or rational basis. If you don’t accept Augustine’s perspective on the matter, than you need to either drop the original assertion or present an alternative argument for why “flesh” predisposes us to sin.

    Whether Heber C. Kimball endorsed it or not, MMP is a very exotic position and you carry the burden of proof, just as any other defender of apostolic eccentricity, whether that of Orson Pratt or Bruce McConkie. Admittedly, I have not read all the background on this subject, but in the latest series of posts on the matter you have repeatedly criticized the “standard model” while supplying no additional evidence for such a radical departure.

    It is worth noting that it was on the basis of Alma 11’s statement on the resurrection that Orson Pratt spoke against Brigham Young’s Adam God theory in the very same conference that President Young gave his most explicit exposition on the topic (October 1853 I believe). Well the body of the Church sided with Elder Pratt, to the great dissapointment of President Young – and the Adam-God theory was an underground doctrine after that, except for a temporary re-appearance in the St. George Endowment. Of course Orson Pratt had his own doctrinal idiosyncrasies – at least one series enough to merit public condemnation (re worshipping divine attributes).

    I am interested in your position on MMP re-entry timing, however.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 11:30 pm

  39. Here is the Heber C. Kimball quote:

    I do not fear the world. We are here in the mountains and in the valleys, and are as secure hers as though we were in heaven: because, if we were there, and did not keep the commandments, we would have to suffer the consequences. When Lucifer sinned against God and His commandments, he was cast out, with all those that sustained and upheld him in his rebellious course. Many suppose that when they get to heaven they can sit down upon flowery beds of ease and have nothing to do. I never expect that day. It is just so with a great many, when they come here they suppose that everything is going to be prepared for them; they suppose that they will sit down in ease, and eat, and drink, and wear, and that there will be no person to trouble them. We have come here to become inured to work-to build temples, and improve upon the elements that God has placed around us, that we may become more skilful tomorrow, through the experience of to-day. What I do not to-day, when the sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time to-day, I wake up to-morrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day.

    It is suggestive, but it certainly doesn’t make Heber C. Kimball a particularly outspoken advocate of multiple mortal probations – it is vague enough some might conclude it is just a bad analogy. There is a big hole – the first day’s morning is implicitly mortal birth, and yet the second day’s morning is resurrection – so where does the cycle close? With a second death? Or are you saying that the night before resurrection is the last day as a mortal?

    If there are other sources I would like to hear about them. I have heard vague references to a salvational epoch as a unit of time called an “eternity”, but I have no sources.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 12, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

  40. This “MToE” model is right out of the scriptures – one might quibble about aspects of finality and progression based on moral considerations, but there seems to be no scriptural evidence whatsoever for more than one mortal probation as we know it. MMP doesn’t really solve any problems, certainly far fewer than it creates – that is why it is interesting speculation, but bad theology – where is the foundation?

    At the risk of being the stick-in-the-mud at the speculation picnic, I think that what is being called MToE is pretty much exactly what the Church teaches through the missionary program and in Sunday meetings, in the temple and in the scriptures. Saying that MMP can also be seen in the scriptures doesn’t mean that MToE then cannot be seen there. In fact, MMP is like a shadowy twin of MToE– every piece of scriptural evidence for MToE can be seen as evidence for MMP, but only as a reflection. Where is the foundation?

    We don’t hear about MMP in church. It’s not taught in General Conference. Do our leaders not know about it? Are they hiding it from us? If so, why would they do that and what does it imply for our own free will? Are those of us who fit this description “the basic view of a large percentage of people in the church” just too dumb to get it or too untrustworthy to rely on faith, the atonement, and love for God to keep us obedient?

    Comment by C Jones — May 13, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  41. Geoff,

    7: Yes, I agree. But the stronger point has to do not with the wicked who will end up in the Telestial kingdom after their time in hell, but rather with the semi righteous.

    Does this mean you are accepting the explanation for the telestials and moving your concern to the terrestrials now?

    30: I don’t have many ideas about what constitutes progression for members of the Godhead beyond the normal hazy ideas that we hear in any model.

    I think it is a very legitimate to challenge Model 2 to present a coherent concept of progression in the kingdoms of glory. However, if your version of MMP includes progression for the celestials, you will face the same basic problem. The description of progression you gave in 18 does not seem to support a very meaningful concept of eternal progression (it seems fine for one aspect of our progression at this stage). Can we spend all of eternity getting closer and closer to God?

    In 30, you also mention that divine persons can become Saviors to worlds in the way that Jesus was, but how many times? Does Jesus have to do what he did here on Earth for the rest of eternity over and over again? If not, they this does not really help account for eternal progression either. If so, then I might prefer living my mortal probation over and over when compared to living Jesus’ life over and over again.

    In 30, you also mention that Blake has a theory about everyone becoming part of one huge Godhead. Fine, but I don’t see how this helps to account for eternal progression in your model.

    So, you have argued that Model 2 will naturally lead to everyone becoming celestial in “no time at all,” but those who accept Model 2 are not likely to take this position. Mark has argued above (6 and 13) that there are good reasons to suppose meaningful progress can exist outside of a mortal probation. In fact, D&C 76 and 88 say rather directly that there will be progress in those kingdoms (even if it is not entirely clear whether or not there is progress between the kingdoms). The trouble becomes one of figuring out exactly what that environment is like (see your 20 and Mark’s 25) and to what extent that environment supports progess along the lines we understand. Your inability to account for celetial progression meaningfully exposes you to essentially the same problem, in my view.

    So, I am back to my point in 5 that you have given a reasonable argument against preaching Model 2, but I don’t think you have shown it to be unreasonable, incoherent, or unscriptural. One more comment coming in a separate post.

    Comment by Jacob — May 13, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  42. Mark: If you don’t accept Augustine’s perspective on the matter, than you need to either drop the original assertion or present an alternative argument for why “flesh” predisposes us to sin.

    There you go again. You assume that one cannot use prominent scriptural terms like “the flesh” without the Augustinian paradigm. This is just not true. I have repeatedly explained what I mean when I use that term (and related terms like “the natural man”) and it has nothing to the Augustinian lens. I know that this is a hot button issue for you, but you are jumping to unwarranted conclusions about my position and for some reason continue to ignore my explanations of my actual position. Just because lots of people read those scriptural terms through the Augustinian lens does not mean they cannot be read through a more accurate lens or that we must avoid those scriptures entirely.

    Admittedly, I have not read all the background on this subject, but in the latest series of posts on the matter you have repeatedly criticized the “standard model” while supplying no additional evidence for such a radical departure.

    Yeah, I can tell. This is the seventeenth post so far closely or loosely related to the subject here. You have joined us well into in the ongoing conversation. I have no problem with you or anyone else disbelieving and rejecting the MMP model and fully recognize that it is heterodox in the church today. I do have a problem with uninformed judgments and dismissals of it though. You are right that this latest group of posts assaults the holes I see in the MToE model, but it comes after quite a bit of discussion on the subject. (Regarding these latest posts, I think the best thing for y’all to do is actually answer the questions I have in the post and defend the MToE model. If it is true as taught it should be defensible…)

    Well the body of the Church sided with Elder Pratt

    Ummm… Citing the notion that the body of the church sided with a single jr. apostle over the First Presidency on a doctrinal issue hardly instills confidence in me. Rememeber what the people thought of the original full gospel Moses learned from God? They got the lesser Law of Moses as a result of essentially voting down the greater truth… (I’m not advocating all of Brigham’s ideas, BTW, only pointing out the inherent weakness of your argument here.)

    I am interested in your position on MMP re-entry timing, however.

    Can you explain your question here better? I’d like to respond but I don’t understand what you mean.

    If there are other sources I would like to hear about them. I have heard vague references to a salvational epoch as a unit of time called an “eternity”, but I have no sources.

    I suppose I’ll have to put together a resource page on this since I keep referring back to it. In the meantime here is a blog page that lists a lot of pretty good resources.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 13, 2006 @ 10:52 am

  43. Geoff,

    You are still attacking Model 2 on the grounds that it does not give an incentive to repent now, so obviously you don’t buy the reasons I have offered here (comment 5) and in the previous post (comments 62 and 64). My basic arguments have been that (a) repentance is the road to happiness, which is a very good reason to repent sooner rather than later and (b) that not repenting now eventually leads to much worse forms of suffering which we can avoid if we repent in this life (D&C 19).

    You said (comment 63) that my argument (a) misses your point. Even though (a) is a prefectly legitimate incentive to repent, you “want to know what obstacles there are to repenting and becoming exalted in the glorious Telestial immortal planet you envision.” But why are obstacles in the hereafter the only valid incentive to repent now? It is as if you are saying you won’t be happy with the model unless it explicitely sticks it to people who weren’t as valiant here. Natural consequences like postponed happiness and avoidance of suffering don’t count as incentives for you, and I still don’t understand why. As I mentioned before, the parable of the prodigal son includes a “good” son, who was always valiant, who became upset that the “bad” son was simply forgiven and accepted back when suffering finally brought him to his senses. Your reaction to Model 2 reminds me of the “good” son of that parable.

    Comment by Jacob — May 13, 2006 @ 11:25 am

  44. C Jones,

    Your questions seem to be about approved doctrines for general church teaching and consumption. MMP clearly is not that. MMP lies squarely in the “speculation” category. My belief is that MMP complements the MToE basics by filling in details about the pre-mortal and post-mortal phases of the basic MToE model. My attacks in the last few posts are not against the basics of the MToE model (you know — the charts the missionaries used forever) but against the gap-filling that has taken place around those basics.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 13, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  45. Jacob,

    Your comment #41 makes me think I have not explained my positions or assumptions nearly well enough to you.

    You seem to be requiring me to explain what progression consists of among gods (or members of the godhead), is that right? But neither MMP nor the MToE model focus on that. They both focus on the mechanics of getting us to the point of godhood/exaltation. MMP does imply that persons would have at least one other mortality-oriented job after being exalted as exemplified by Jesus here, but after that all we know is that their work consists of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. So in answer to you question, no Jesus would never need to do what he did here again just as the father never will either. As I understand it, their atonements were somehow steps in their progress to fuller exaltation. Any further progression for the Father and Son are completely obscured from our vision and I have no guesses beyond the comments by Moses on their mission statement. (If it is not clear — in the MMP view our father and his son Jesus were people like us in the past and progressed through the role of savior to their current status. This tracks well to the KFD and Sermon on the grove I think.)

    Another important point is that I am drawing the line at exalted people, not at Celestials. I make that distinction only because we commonly hold that not all Celestials are exalted. I personally think that glory is on a continuum though and the three degrees simply represent that fact. So don’t get confused by me saying some Celestial-charactered people continue in probations until they are exalted.

    Does this mean you are accepting the explanation for the telestials and moving your concern to the terrestrials now?

    I simply acknowledged that there is at least some incentive to avoid egregious sin in the MToE model as commonly taught. The point I was focusing on is that while that will drive people (out of fear) to avoid the proverbial F through C- grades in life (Hell then Telestial glory) it lacks incentive to put in the massive effort to get from a C+ or B+ (Terrestrial status) or even A- (non-exalted Celestial status) to the actual goal of A+ (exaltation). I understand that the grade analogy can be misleading since we are talking about relationship with God, but my point is that in the model as you’ve explained it, there is basically no incentive for the “B” level person to repent aggressively now while it is hard because the model says that it will be quite easy to move from a B to and A+ in the Millennium with Satan bound and Jesus there as our personal tutor. (I am also responding to #43 here.)

    Mark has argued above (6 and 13) that there are good reasons to suppose meaningful progress can exist outside of a mortal probation.

    Ineffectively so. Saying it will be hard and providing good reasons why that might be the case are two very different things. That is what our less-than-clear discussion about “the flesh” originated from. Mark keeps getting sidetracked thinking I’m parroting Augustine when I’m not.

    you have given a reasonable argument against preaching Model 2, but I don’t think you have shown it to be unreasonable, incoherent, or unscriptural.

    Good. That was the point of this post. I promise to deal with the reasons Model 2 is “unreasonable, incoherent, or unscriptural” in my next post.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 13, 2006 @ 12:53 pm

  46. Geoff, I did not reassert that you appeared to view “flesh” in the manner of Augustine – I simply asked for clarification of what your position was. Unfortunately on issues like this we have to repeat ourselves extensively, adapted to the particular context at hand. I did read several of the previous posts, and the Heber C. Kimball quote, and asked several pertinent questions above, but you have not responded with anything but meta-talk. I am not trying to attack you, nor discredit your theory unfairly, I just do not yet see much in the way of substantiation.

    I would expect that you would be eager to give as much of that as possible – related HCB quotes, related positions of other early Church leaders, scriptures than can be recast to suggest the idea, further details on your arguments and so on. Saying that you have covered all that before looks lazy, especially when the material appears to be widely scattered over the comments to a long series of web log posts. It would greatly help newcomers like me if you would either repeat your rationale as succinctly as possible, or refer me to a document dedicated to the purpose.

    My questions on MMP re-entry timing are at the end of comment #34. I raised difficulties re HCB’s implied view at the end of comment #39. And of course I would like to hear an argument for how flesh constrains spiritual progression in a way that a resurrected body does not. The more common LDS perspective is the reverse – that our bodies of flesh and blood are much more mutable and susceptible to spiritual growth, than the quasi-indelible structures of an immortal spirit body.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 13, 2006 @ 2:59 pm

  47. Hi Geoff,

    My comments in 41 gave you the wrong impression. I understand all the points you clarified in 45 (still, thanks for the clarification, you can’t be too careful). I am not criticizing the MMP model based on a claim that you must explain progression of exalted persons. Rather, by saying in your post that telestials would become exalted in “no time at all,” you are implying that there is no meaningful progression in the telestial kingdom, as I have described it. I acknowledged this as a legitimate criticism, but I am pointing out that your own model contains a similar claim that there is progression for exalted people and you are not able to account for it either. I hope you agree that, if true, this undercuts your criticism to some degree, unless you are ready to abondon the idea in your own model. Otherwise, there must be a solution out there, which, when articulated, will solve the problem for both models.

    (In 30, you admitted that you don’t understand progression among the exalted, but you offered a few concrete ideas, so I felt obliged in 41 to argue that your points (as you suspected) do not solve the problem. Hopefully, this helps clear up what I intended by my comments. If it is still unclear, then just ignore this line of questioning.)

    Your respons in 45 to my 43 is essentially just a restatement of your previous view without responding to any of the points or questions I raised in 43. You state, once again, that “there is basically no incentive,” but this is just a bare assertion which my comments in 43 have already responded to.

    Comment by Jacob — May 13, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

  48. Mark: Saying that you have covered all that before looks lazy, especially when the material appears to be widely scattered over the comments to a long series of web log posts.

    Hehe… Well I must admit I’m not interested in aggressively trying to convert you or anyone else to the model even though I think it is accurate. It is rather heterodox after all. I simply objected to your dismissive language about the model especially considering how little you know about it. It is not “bad theology” and it does solve loads of theological problems. If I was confident that you actually understood the model then your brash statements would not have been so irksome to me.

    Now Model 2 — that is bad theology. Not only is it impossible in my opinion, but it discourages repentance and going the extra mile in this life. Any theology that does not provide incentive for Mormons to live the law of consecration now is bad theology in opinion.

    Ok, as to your #34 questions:

    Does MMP re-entry occur after a tenure in the spirit world, whether “paradise” or prison?

    Yes. Only the exalted do not move on to another world like ours in the model I am using.

    Does it occur prior to or after the millennium?

    Depends on what you mean by “millennium”. See this post to understand my view on that better.

    Does it occur contemporaneously as the “final” judgment described in Revelations 20?

    Yes, I suppose. What you call re-entry MMP calls resurrection (except for exalted people for whom there is no “re-entry”.)

    And where can we find any canonical support for the idea at all?

    Like the MToE model, the MMP is an extension of the various factoids we learn about the eternities. Of course MMP is dependent on the KFD as well.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 13, 2006 @ 11:19 pm

  49. Jacob: I am pointing out that your own model contains a similar claim that there is progression for exalted people and you are not able to account for it either

    I’m still confused by this. Do you just mean that the details of what progression means for members of the extended Godhead (aka exalted people) are unclear in both models? If so, I do not understand why that matters…

    It seems to me that both models are only focused on what the backdrop is to God accomplishing on his “work and glory” — that work is helping his children become one with him by being exalted. I don’t see why what happens after one is exalted makes too much difference. The one thing we can assume is that the closer we draw to God the more his work and glory becomes our work and glory. I believe that work is what exalted persons in the Godhead do to continue to progress. (But again, I’m not sure if I’m answering your real questions still here…)

    Ok, I just reread and I think I’m with you now and I think that last paragraph might help. The work prior to becoming one with God is largely about getting ourselves to be one with God. After exaltation we become part of an extended Godhead so his work is our work as we become “one” in some very significant way. But our ongoing “progression” still has everything to do with succeeding mortal probations as we move to the Lord’s side of the work on mortal probations. I think we will progress as a result of worlds like this in the same way our Godhead progresses by guiding us here. (Our role is sort of like moving from being player to assistant coach or something… :-) )

    Ok, so now that I’m a little better up to speed I’ll better address you point in #43:

    No, I don’t think your point about “wickedness was never happiness” is sufficient incentive to repent with Model 2. Terrestrial people are a fine example of why. Terrestrial people are not really wicked. They are in fact good people who simply aren’t as valiant as they could be in the testimony of Jesus. If a lackadaisical Mormon believed as Don does (and I don’t think Don is a lackadaisical Mormon, BTW) that it will be pretty easy to become exalted in the Millennium with no Satan around and 1000 years to work with Jesus as a tutor, then that lackadaisical Mormon would have no incentive to live the law of consecration now. As I said in the last comment, I believe that any theology that does not provide incentive for Mormons to live the law of consecration now is bad theology. (Unfortunately a lot of Mormons do believe as Don does.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 13, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

  50. Geoff,

    Here, I am only responding to the part about incentives to repent, since that part is more relevant to this thread. Picked up the other discussion on your subsequent post.

    So, in your last paragraph of 49, you don’t think it is a sufficient reason to repent, because terrestrial people are not really wicked. This is essentially your grade analogy (#45) restated. I get it. What I don’t get, is what your critieria for sufficiency is. If it turns out I can get to heaven without living the law of consecration in this life, does that mean there is not sufficient incentive? How can I tell that the incentive is enough?

    Since you are hammering away at your point, let me be even more specific about my comparison to the prodigal son. You may not understand exactly what I mean. It seems to me that the good son’s anger when the prodigal son returned was due to the unfairness he saw in bad son getting the attention and the party when he had been the good one. He was jealous of the Father’s attention and love. I am NOT accusing you of this sentiment in any parallel way.

    However, I can see your argument imposed on the parable fairly directly. The question that is parallel to yours is: If the prodigal son comes back and gets the party, and the fatted calf, and all of that, what incentive is there for the good son to stick around and be good? And that is the question I am asking of you. What incentive indeed?

    Comment by Jacob — May 14, 2006 @ 9:20 am

  51. Jacob: If it turns out I can get to heaven without living the law of consecration in this life, does that mean there is not sufficient incentive?

    Yes. Particularly in the Model 2 version of “heaven” as exemplified by Don’s post. It gives the false idea that offering God something less than full consecration will still lead to relatively exaltation in the next life (either by repenting in the Millennium or in a kingdom of glory). I think that those who base their actions on such a paradigm will be horribly disappointed if they learn that their procrastination instead led to parting with their spouse at death and yet another mortal probation next! (Avoiding that is what I consider incentive to live the law of consecration now and it fits the urgency we sense throughout the scriptures I think.)

    If the prodigal son comes back and gets the party, and the fatted calf, and all of that, what incentive is there for the good son to stick around and be good? And that is the question I am asking of you. What incentive indeed?

    That is a fair question. I think the problem with the way you are framing it is that you seem to be implying that the coming home party equates with exaltation. (I railed against the Parable of the Bicycle for making this kind of implication last year.) I think the party the prodigal got only represents the celebration for the beginning of the repentance of the prodigal. The end of the path for both sons is later when they become just like their father is. That only will happen as they steadfastly tread the path that their father has trodden. The good son is already much farther down that path than the prodigal. His younger brother will have to endure to the end to become like the father too after all.

    So the incentive to “stick around and be good” is in what they are, not in the passing things they get along the way. Sure the younger son gets a nice party for turning his life around, but no one can give him the character of his father. That kind of character (representing God’s character) must be forged out of the fires of experience and ongoing repentance/change and enduring faithfulness. The good son, despite his confusion in the story, is much farther down that path than the prodigal and the father teaches him that truth in the end. (This, again, tracks well to my Parable of the Pianist)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 10:34 am

  52. Talking about the progression of exalted beings, Geoff (49) says: I’m still confused by this. Do you just mean that the details of what progression means for members of the extended Godhead (aka exalted people) are unclear in both models? If so, I do not understand why that matters…
    I know I’m not Jacob, but here’s why I see it matters:
    If God is forever progressing, that means that we have to do more and more to become like him. Those (lucky) guys who were exalted millions of probations ago had it a lot easier than us today. And those who haven’t become one-enough with God in a million years from now, considering that God is ever progressing, really stand no chance at all.
    In fact, since God is God, it would seem that he would always be progressing just a little bit faster than we, “the imperfect mortals” could. Hence, no one would ever be exalted, doomed to spend the rest of eternity in probation after probation, always trying to catch up to a God who moves just a little bit faster than the very fastest of us.

    That’s why I see it matters.

    PS – Is there anywhere online that I can read the King Follett Discourse?

    Comment by Jason — May 14, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  53. Jason,

    Thanks, I finally caught on and already responded to that point from Jacob here and at the new post.

    Regarding the KFD: See the amalgamated version from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith here. (Or here and here).

    The wiki is pretty good too.

    If you are feeling adventurous, here are the non-amalgamated original texts.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  54. BTW Jason – Your logic in #52 applies to any of the models discussed doesn’t it? I think the flaw is that you are assuming exaltation = becoming the equal of the Father. By that logic even Christ could not be exalted…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 14, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

  55. The scriptures do often imply that the heirs of celestial kingdom will have equal glory, perhaps in the manner that two infinities (e.g. the integers and the even integers) have equivalent cardinalities even when they grow at different rates, or one has a head start (cf. D&C 19:10, 78:6, Cantor set theory).

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 15, 2006 @ 2:14 am

  56. My favorite parable on this subject however is the Parable of the Laborers:

    “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market place, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth hour and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when the even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:1-16).

    The application should be obvious.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 15, 2006 @ 2:18 am

  57. Geoff, (#51)

    I am very surprised you think I am equating the home coming party to exaltation. During this very conversation about the parable of the prodigal son, I said this:

    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, lest their incorrect belief in an everlasting hell motivate them. Preach nothing but repentance, and it will be for the best. (D&C 19:7,21). (Comment 64 back on veils-identity-challenge)

    The reason I have been pressing the prodigal son is that the incentives for the good son don’t fall into your category of “sufficient” incentives. I have offered three:

    (1) The wasted time which could have been used progressing leaves
    us behind and digs us a character hole we will have to climb
    out of. (blockquote above)
    (2) The postponed happiness of repenting later rather than
    sooner. (#43)
    (3) The additional suffering required to bring us to repentance
    which we could have avoided if we had repented sooner. (e.g.
    1000 years in hell) (#43)

    Those seem like the incentives the good son has to repent, and they seem sufficient to me. In fact, I think they are the incentives each of us has to repent now. The incentive you stated for the good son (#51) is essentially incentive (1) from the list above. However, you have not been counting this as a sufficient incentive, which is why I think the parable of the prodigal son points out the error in your criteria for sufficiency.

    Geoff said: I think that those who base their actions on [Don’s] paradigm will be horribly disappointed if they learn that their procrastination instead led to parting with their spouse at death and yet another mortal probation next! (Avoiding that is what I consider incentive to live the law of consecration now and it fits the urgency we sense throughout the scriptures I think.)

    Your criteria are a bit arbitrary. They are not supported by the scriptures, or by an objective standard we can apply to any model. Let me explain what I mean by that statement, since you will disagree vehemently with it.

    The urgency in the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon, where a lot of the best urgency is found) is based on those prophets believing in a one-eternal-heaven / one-eternal-hell model of the eternities. They consistently argue the urgency based on the fact that there is no second chance after this life (in another mortal probation or otherwise). I could give tons of examples, but here are two: Alma 34:33, Hel 13:38. In D&C 19, when Joseph got his first hint that this model was not fully accurate, Christ made it clear that the refutation of the one-eternal-heaven / one-eternal-hell model did not get rid of the urgency. However, his new basis for the urgency was (3) from the list. Thus, I don’t see your criteria for sufficient incentive to repent anywhere in the scriptures. I only see (1) (2) and (3).

    Now, the next question is whether your criteria are objective enough to be applied to any model. Imagine for a moment how a Model 1 believer, or a standard Christian one-eternal-heaven / one-eternal-hell person, would argue against your Model 3. They would argue that you do not provide an urgent enough incentive to repent because you say that we will have lots of additional chances in subsequent mortal probations if we screw up this life. How will you defend yourself against this complaint? You will likely say that it does give sufficient incentive because losing your wife and having to go through another mortal probation is really bad. They will say it is not because of the second chance, you will say it is because of the badness of another mortal probation, and there will be no way to decide who is right. This is what I mean when I say your criteria are arbitrary.

    You can say Model 2 doesn’t provide sufficient incentive, I can say it does, and how are we to decide who is right? The best bet seems to be the scriptures, so I have been arguing that Model 2 is consistent with the scriptures (BofM in light of D&C 19, D&C 19 (#5), also parable of the prodigal son). Which scriptures say there must be some incentive in addition to (1) (2) and (3)?

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 11:34 am

  58. This is truly a fascinating discussion. W. Cleon Skousen is one of the leading proponents for Model 1. However, while he states that there is no progression between “kingdoms” or “degrees of glory”, he also implies that there is unlimited progression within each degree of glory.

    While there is a danger of complacency attendant to Model 2, there is an incentive against locking oneself into a “Terrestrial” mode while on earth. Even though the Terrestrial Degree of Glory is far beyond anything we can imagine, we’re also told that while we can enjoy the presence of the Son in the Terrestrial Realm, we are forever cut off from enjoying the presence of the Father. This may seem inconsequential to us, but one LDS man had a near-death experience where he was brought to the gates of the “Celestial City”, but was not allowed to pass through. Immediately he felt the sense of deprivation and desolation of knowing that although the Father’s realm was within view, he could not access it.

    What I particularly disagree with regarding Model 3 is the possibility of reincarnation. Not only does Amulek tend to debunk this notion, but there’s also a verse in the Bible that states, “It is appointed unto ALL men to die ONE time.” Reincarnation not only waters down the exclusivity of mortality, but might have the effect of watering down the unique and singular nature of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, why would we need to work out “bad karma” in subsequent mortal incarnations?

    So for the time being, I will stick with Model 1. However, I will not permanently exclude the possibility of either reincarnation or trans-Kingdom progression, since having the fulness of the Gospel doesn’t mean we know all there is to know. We certainly don’t know how to create worlds yet, for example. It is conceivable that the Father has withheld this information from us because He doesn’t believe we need it at this time. However, until the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve state otherwise, I will stick with Model 1. The latter statement is not designed to discourage or preclude further discussion of this issue.

    Comment by Anchorage Activist — May 15, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

  59. Hi Ancharage Activist,

    It sounds like you share a similar view to Last Lemming (#11). Perhaps even more influential than Cleon Skousen is Joseph Fielding Smith who argued in Doctrines of Salvation for no progression between kingdoms, but for progression within each kingdom in different “directions” (I think he used the term directions, but I’d have to check to be sure). He seemed to take the same sort of view that you and Last Lemming are suggesting. Depending on your own view, that could be viewed as good company to share.

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  60. Mark (56),

    I gave my take on the parable of the laborers in my grace vs. works post called “Come on and take a free ride“. The basic problem has to do with equating exaltation to a thing (wages in this case). Things can be given, but relationships and character must be forged over time using free will, and I think exaltation is all about relationship with God and developing a God-like character. (I suspect you agree.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  61. I’m reading Truman Madsen’s Eternal Man, and have a question about this statement:

    The most majestic wonder of our freedom is that we can make all-time binding decisions, eternal covenants.

    If I have made eternal covenants in the temple, fully intending them to be all-time binding, knowing the consequences of not keeping them and freely choosing to accept those consequences, and fully expecting them to be binding upon the other party (God) in the covenant, and if I then choose not to keep them, why should I get another mortal probation at all? I made the covenants intending them to be eternally binding. I made them expecting to keep them and gain the promised blessings. Why can I expect them to be binding on God if I can willfully break my covenants and then get another probation to try again?

    Comment by C Jones — May 15, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  62. C Jones,

    I assume you were intending Geoff to answer, but my two cents in answering your question: The reason you can expect them to be binding on God even though you can willfully break them and get a second chance is that God allows this very thing here in this life. People make binding covenants in the temple and they break them, and he allows them to repent and have their blessings “restored.” My argument would be: if God lets me break my covenants at age 20 and repent when I am 60, why should the time of my death take away such a chance at repentance? I believe it shouldn’t, because the time of your death is generally not caused by God, and thus it should not be ultimately relevant.

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

  63. Thanks Jacob- It really is an open question to anyone willing to help.

    But how is justice served if I can willfully choose to break covenants and expect do-overs? After all, I know what I’m doing, I know what the consequences are. What excuse can I have then? Where is my freedom to choose the consequences?

    What about:

    Alma 12:24 And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.

    And Alma 34:32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

    33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

    Comment by C Jones — May 15, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  64. Jacob (#57),

    Thanks for such a clear and well written comment!

    In response: I think your (2) and (3) work fairly well to keep many people from egregious sin in Model 2. The prospects of “1000 years” in hell/prison ought to scare lots of people straight. The question about your (1) is not whether that is ultimately a reason to repent because it is a reason to repent in any model. The issue at hand is whether the assumptions of Model 2 provide sufficient and proper urgency for the non-hell-bound people of the world (Terrestrials mostly). As I’ve said, if one believed that just “being a good person” would result in participation in the first resurrection and then that they would have 1000 years at the feet of Christ and all the prophets with no obstacles to repent and improve character then there is a serious problem. Where is the urgency to do more than just “be a good person” now if one could finish the job much more easily (as Don has stated) in the Millennium? (Sorry if this is a restatement, but this is the gaping hole I still see in this Model 2.)

    Your criteria are a bit arbitrary. They are not supported by the scriptures, or by an objective standard we can apply to any model.

    You ask a good question about where I get this standard. It may not be not explicitly stated in the scriptures that marriage sealings will not stick if one fails to live the law of consecration in this life after all (although I think section 132 does say this doesn’t it?). But I think it is taught in the temple that failure to live up to every covenant we make with God means that we will also fail to receive the promised blessings associated with temple covenants — including the sealing with our spouse.

    Look, most Model 2 believers also seem to think that one can fail to live the Law of Consecration in this life, yet still be eternally sealed to their spouse. I think that is just false. Model 1 and Model 3 do not suffer from this gaping hole — they both say live up to the covenants in this life or lose the chance of the sealing. However, Model 1 goes too far and paints a cruel and unforgiving God (as I have argued). That is why of the three, I think Model 3 is superior. (Perhaps there are other models that we can discuss over time too…)

    So that leaves Model 2 in serious trouble in my estimation. It provides a massive loophole for mediocrity in this life — just as the Adversary would want it! And in any case, this Law of consecration issue is not an arbitrary criteria for sufficient incentive.

    (Please let me know if I’ve left issues unaddressed…)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 5:01 pm

  65. C Jones (#63),

    Let me turn your question around on you and ask: how is justice served if you can willfully choose to break covenants when you are 20 and then be allowed to repent and be fully forgiven when you are 60?

    If I were to answer with an answer instead of a question [grin], I would have to dig into your notions of justice and repentance, but the very scenario that would be disallowed by justice (as implied by your question) is a scenario that happens all the time in this life when people repent and avoid the ultimate consequences of their previous actions.

    As to the scriptures you cite above, I hint at my own answer to this above in (#57). The Book of Mormon prophets did not understand that eternal punishment is not never-ending (as Joseph Smith learned in D&C 19), or that the gospel will be preached in the spirit world, or that there are different degrees of glory in heaven. This becomes clear every time they talk about the afterlife. They always phrase everything in terms of a one-heaven / one-hell model. Alma had to receive a revelation to know about what happens between death and the resurrection, and even then, he got a simplified view that doesn’t exactly jive with what we would say today (Alma 40:11).

    So, my take is that these strong statements from the Book of Mormon are correct in the context of what those prophets knew, but that the restoration provided a whole lot of additional information about the afterlife which paints a very different picture about the possibilities of repentance and progress after we die.

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

  66. how is justice served if you can willfully choose to break covenants when you are 20 and then be allowed to repent and be fully forgiven when you are 60?

    Well, the atonement allows mercy to answer justice upon repentance, which I think is what you are referring to in your second paragraph.

    Just to make sure I understand you, in #57 and some of your previous comments, I take it that you are in support of Model 2? My concern with softening the urgency in the Alma scriptures is mostly that I don’t want to give any aid to Model 3 :-)

    Hence my question about my freedom to choose the consequences of breaking my covenants. I don’t think Model 1 paints a picture of a cruel and unforgiving God at all. I think it shows that God is so committed to our free will that he will not force the lost 1/3 or us to progress any further than we choose. But in Model 3, if I choose to sin against the light I have and decide that I really don’t want to progress, that I really don’t want to become something more (the same choice the 1/3 in the pre-existance had) doesn’t Model 3 deny me the opportunity to live forever in a lower kingdom? Does it require me to be sent back to another mortal probation against my will?

    Comment by C Jones — May 15, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

  67. Anchorage Activist( #58) – Welcome to the Thang. Regarding your comment, I concur with Jacob in his response (#59). (Also, see my post coming down in strong opposition to Model 1 here.)

    C Jones (#61,63) – I concur with Jacob’s responses (#62,65) here as well. Again, I think the evidence against Model 1 is overwhelming (even though this post contends might be safer to preach Model 1 than Model 2…)

    My concern with softening the urgency in the Alma scriptures is mostly that I don’t want to give any aid to Model 3

    Hehe… tough one eh? Model 1 has massive problems, but Model 2 also has massive problems. What does that leave us with? I think Model 3 is looking pretty good at this point, but maybe there are other Models forthcoming from commenters to help you out… :-)

    I think it [Model 1] shows that God is so committed to our free will that he will not force the lost 1/3 or us to progress any further than we choose.

    This statement is self-contradictory. If God is that committed to free will (and I believe He is) then the opportunity to repent and thus progress spiritually will never be unavailable to us. That means that any person in any kingdom could freely choose to turn to God at any time. Based on your view of free will then, it appears you reject Model 1 just like Jacob and I do.

    doesn’t Model 3 deny me the opportunity to live forever in a lower kingdom?

    Earth is a lower kingdom. (That is clearly taught in the endowment ceremony.)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  68. C Jones,

    Your answer in (#66) is my answer to your original question in (#63). Perfect.

    Yes, I have been advocating Model 2. The reason Model 1 seems to portray God as unforgiving is that it says there is a time when God stops offering you the chance to progress, even if you realize the errors of your ways and want to become better. Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith use the term “damnation” to refer to the lower kingdoms, because in there view, exaltation is no longer possible for people in those kingdoms, no matter what, for the rest of eternity. Obviously they were comfortable with that. I have a harder time with it.

    If it wasn’t clear, Model 3 proposes that your mortal birth into your current body was you being resurrected into the telestial kingdom (for the first or millionth time, we don’t know). Welcome back. (Please correct me if I’m wrong here Geoff.) That may help you figure out what Geoff means in his comment above about Earth being a lower kingdom.

    Comment by Jacob — May 15, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

  69. Jacob: That may help you figure out what Geoff means in his comment above about Earth being a lower kingdom.

    Yes, basically; although the earth (or any inhabited planet) is a Terrestrial kingdom for those who live the Terrestrial law too.

    Incidentally, I am rethinking the question of Celestials… It seems to me that whoever lives the Celestial Law will be exalted. I know there is that passage about degrees in the Celestial kingdom with perhaps only the top 1/3 being exalted but it seems to me that anyone who lives the Law of Consecration would, by definition, also do all in their power to be sealed to a spouse in the temple. And if it was not in their power it would not be held against them in the judgment anyway. So by that definition all who live the Celestial law (which is capped by the Law of Consecration) become exalted and will no longer experience mortal probations. So in a sense Celestial persons can be here because we can become Celestial persons through living the Celestial law here, but that would lead us to exaltation in the resurrection.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 15, 2006 @ 11:50 pm

  70. Geoff (#60), I understand that the common Protestant interpretation of the parable is “free ride”-ish. But since the Protestants are coming from a rather different perspective with regard to soteriology, I do not consider that association germane. What is germane to LDS theology is the concept of equality in a Zion society such as the Celestial Kingdom.

    Comment by Mark Butler — May 16, 2006 @ 1:15 am

  71. Geoff, don’t feel bad, this is a good thing. but every time I come on here, I realize I really am going senile because I can’t follow you and I don’t feel so stupid about it.

    Your blog is how I check myself. “Still losin it? Yup, still losin’ it.” Also Nate Oman is good for that.

    Comment by annegb — May 16, 2006 @ 9:14 am

  72. Hehe… I suspect that most people would insist that you are fine and I’m the one losin’ it Anne. At least others around here are losin’ it with me!

    Comment by Geoff J — May 16, 2006 @ 9:55 am

  73. Geoff, I would like to approach the idea of MMP from another direction (perhaps starting a new thread of thought).

    Looking at life as a “journey” and actively seeking “knowledge” or “truth” as it is more uncommonly known, has led me to the “Gospel”. I have partaken of the fruit of the Atonement that Lehi and Nephi so eloquently described. My testimony of the Savior, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon are all firm. You know, the same spirit that guides us, if we allow it, to strong “unculturated” testimonies of these truths, will eventually lead us to All Truth, that “shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.”

    My evolving belief in “multiple mortal probations” stems from years of thought provoking, nay even “exciting” service in “The House of the Lord”. Hugh Nibley, convinced me to view the ceremonies as “blueprints” to God’s plan for his children. Once internalized (Temple endowment = cosmic plan of happiness) coupled with current lessons in (D&C 121:41-42), it greatly enlarged my soul. I was anxious to return and learn more about Heavenly Father’s ways and the unimaginable love he has for “ALL HIS CHILDREN”. I found myself begging for knowledge of the Savior, pleading to forgive others (including my wife…oh, and myself and Sadam Hussein), and as if my life depended on it – to know why “free agency” was so gosh darn important!

    Well, as my love for My Elder Brother, Joshua or Jesus, Jehovah Lord God (for his many names and honored titles), as my love and knowledge of him grew, I found forgiveness for other people like Krishna (and those who follow) and Mohammed, Edgar Cayce and Ted Turner. I was discovering that “free will” was permission we are given to peer over the edge of the box, see what is there, and when ready mentally (or physically for some) step out of our particular box for added perspective.

    What did I see outside “the box”? I saw others in their various boxes of all shapes and sizes in different degrees of perceptivity. Each was sharing truth according to their view using words like Bhagavad Gita, and Koran, New Age ideas and Time. Such diversity. Such harmony. Such beauty. Such is the creation on this world.

    The trick is being able to discern God’s hand in his creations. The key to discernment involves “kindness”, “gentleness”, “meekness”, “love unfeigned”, “pure knowledge”. The effects of witnessing this “power or influence””greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-“.

    Be careful! Be wary! Consider carefully! But do not deny yourself the right to choose. Measure your research against your knowledge of truth or that which has been given you. Once truth is established, once you have discerned God’s handiwork which enlarges your soul, but still cannot reconcile it to your knowledge of truth, you can be assured that missing information will come. I believe this is where the sermons on “faith” and “humility” would come.

    I find NO inconsistencies in the “Heber C. Kimball Model” or the idea of “multiple mortal probations” as I understand it and my understanding of the “Gospel” as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In fact, my research (not entirely methodical) yet touching on cultural and religious, historical and contemporary, spiritual and physical data available through public and private sources, including this blog, have completely reversed my belief and strengthened my understanding of my relationship to the Source of us all. It has enlarged my soul and seems necessary for the journey to “Zion”.

    Thanks Geoff for the forum. I hope the links work…t

    Comment by trace — May 18, 2006 @ 4:28 am

  74. Thanks for the thoughtful and supportive comment, trace. I hope you will continue to contribute here in the future.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 18, 2006 @ 10:11 am

  75. And one more thing…… :-)
    In your “crock” post (and podcast) you say:

    On top of that, Mormons take the title “Father in Heaven” very literally – more so than any other religion I know of. When we sing “I am a child of God” we really mean it.

    And also:

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

    So on that somewhat illogical and emotional note (where I am most comfortable anyway) I think that convinces me that Model 2 is the most correct. After all, what kind of loving father would give me 5 babies, ask me to risk my own life to bear them, sacrifice my time and sleep and self to raise them, send me to the temple to be sealed to them, and then take me away from them if I mess up never to connect with them again and send me off to some other MMP planet to try again with some other kids? Not the God I worship.

    My kids are sealed to my husband and me, who are sealed to our parents, who are sealed to their parents and on and on. It’s all about this probation on this planet.

    The idea that I could be here right now after multiple other tries at motherhood, where I’ve loved and nurtured other babies, only to be parted from them forever is cruel.

    P.S. Nice job on the podcast! Is that your music?

    Comment by C Jones — May 19, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  76. C Jones: My kids are sealed to my husband and me, who are sealed to our parents, who are sealed to their parents and on and on. It’s all about this probation on this planet.

    This is the key — families have a conditional sealing here. That sealing is only made permanent if we live up to our part of the associated covenants. If you and your spouse and children all live up to every covenant then you will all be exalted and there will be no questions. But if not there is no seal. That is why I think Model 2 dangerous — it gives people the false notion that just being an “active” Mormon is good enough. They think that they can worry about keeping promises like the promise to live the law of consecration in the Millennium when everything will be a lot easier. That is a very dangerous way of thinking but it arises naturally from Model 2. Model 1 provides a lot better incentives to repent now than Model 2 (even though I think it is inaccurate). Model 3 allows for progression after this life but also provides incentive to keep all of our covenants now — that is just another reason I prefer it.

    I should note that another nice side effect of Model 3 is that if you do keep all of your promises to God he will keep all of his to you and you will join in unity with the Godhead. But let’s imagine that a couple of your children don’t keep all of their promises to God… if you are part of the extended Godhead then you will be able to help watch over the continuing progress of you loved ones to help them achieve that goal of exaltation in future probations. When (if) they keep their promises they can be exalted too and you are sealed to them just as you are sealed to God. (Now granted, this works with Model 2 as well although I have argued that progression would be impossible in Model 2 to begin with…)

    Nice job on the podcast! Is that your music?

    Thanks! I needed a little reassurance on that. Yep, it was all Noisepie music. I thought that part worked pretty well…

    Comment by Geoff J — May 19, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

  77. THe body you are resurrected with is the body that will remain with you and it will not change. A celestial person will be resurrected to celestial body, a terrestrial to a terrestial, and telestial to a telesial. The body will not change once you are resurrected and advancement is not possible.

    If progression is possible than falling is as well. Thus, God our father & the Savior could fall and thus void all atonement. Such is impossible. If one cannot fall, then one cannot advance beyond one’s capacity…. only those in Celesital Kingdom will be blessed with unlimited capacity…. anything else is unjust

    Comment by bylawguy — May 25, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  78. God is loving, even if there is no progression between kingdoms. How is this? God gives us ample, and true opportunity to inherit the Glory we are prepared to live with. We each get a fair chance, and he isn’t going to force us to do anything we don’t want to do. I believe that being a God carries with it a lot of responsibility, and some people would just rather not deal with that amount of responsibility. We all get exactly what we want, in the end.

    This is oversimplified, but serves illustrates my point. God loves you enough to let you decide your destiny. If you have the slightest inkling towards the Celestial, and are willing to abide the law necessary to live there, you will! That’s it. Easy!

    Comment by Jeff Day — May 27, 2006 @ 1:07 am

  79. If there is no progression through kingdoms, then the way of the temple in it’s teaching is false. The temple is an “eternal template” for our salvation and eventual future exaltation. In the temple we learn how to progress forward from lower laws in the Telestial Kingdom up to higher laws and eventually allowed into the Celestial Kingdom and becoming exalted. The plan of salvation for all mankind is to exalt them according to the PoGP! Remember also that the law of chastity and sexual relations between only you and your spouse is a Telestial Law.

    Remember also that we learn in the temple that there is no specific time limit on when progression is made possible, only that through obedience to all of them we will eventually be called up and ordained priests/priestess’ and kings/ queens. This also fulfills the promise that God has made with us that as we are obedient to heavenly laws we will recieve the blessings of them.

    Comment by robosborn — May 30, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

  80. Why don’t we all just stick to the teachings of the scriptures and of the prophets, instead of relying on our own philosophies on this issue? The plain truth is that there is NO progression from kingdom to kingdom after the judgment. This is the way of the Lord, and it is fair. This truth can be evidence from several sources, for example, past presidents of the Church:
    “There are some people who have supposed that if we are quickened telestial bodies that eventually, throughout the ages of eternity, we will continue to progress until we will find our place in the celestial kingdom, but the scriptures and revelations of God have said that those who are quickened telestial bodies cannot come where God and Christ dwell, worlds without end.” (George Albert Smith, The Teachings of George Albert Smith, edited by Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 36.)
    “It has been asked if it is possible for one who inherits the telestial glory to advance in time to the celestial glory? The answer to this question is, No! The scriptures are clear on this point. Speaking of those who go to the telestial kingdom, the revelation says: “And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.” Notwithstanding this statement, those who do not comprehend the word of the Lord argue that while this is true, that they cannot go where God is “worlds without end,” yet in time they will get where God was, but he will have gone on to other heights. This is false reasoning, illogical, and creates mischief in making people think they may procrastinate their repentance, but in course of time they will reach exaltation in celestial glory.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 31.)

    To believe otherwise is to deny the plain teachings of the Book of Mormon. In it we read, “this life is the time to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labours…if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labour performed.” (Alma 34:32-33) To say that whatever our conduct here, we can eventually reach exaltation, given a long enough amount of time, is to make the entire plan of salvation null and void. There is a place prepared for all men, but only those who keep their second estate may dwell with the Father eternally.
    To entertain the notion that there is progression to higher kingdoms after the judgment is a heresy. Do you guys think you’re smart by acting so intellectual when entertaining these ideas that are contrary to revelation? I have a scripture for you:
    “O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

    Comment by Ryan Nilsson — June 10, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

  81. Ryan: Why don’t we all just stick to the teachings of the scriptures and of the prophets, instead of relying on our own philosophies on this issue? The plain truth is that there is NO progression from kingdom to kingdom after the judgment.

    Lots of modern prophets have said there is progression between kingdoms after judgment. Here are just a few examples:

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

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

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

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

    -J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3

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

    Comment by Geoff J — June 10, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  82. Ryan N.,

    GAS, JFS, and BRM never announced any revelation on the subject. What they and numerous other leaders claimed to the contrary, on that and a litany of other matters was a matter of *reasoning* (read: philosophy). How is it that all the notable doctrines of Brigham Young are the Seven deadly heresies of the Church? Was BRM so stupid as to think that it wouldn’t come out that he thought Brigham Young was an Apostate? Or was he so ignorant as to never know what President Young taught in the first place?

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 10, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

  83. Geoff: I was unable to verify 3 of the 5 quotations you sent. Only 2 were available on my 2001 GospeLink. Therefore, I can only speak as to the integrity of the Jospeh F. Smith Improvement Era quote and the Talmage one. As to those, The Joseph F. Smith quote didn’t seem to offer much support for your case at all, saying that the consensus is that there is no progression to higher kingdoms, with a timid admission that, for selected individuals, the situation may be unknown:
    “The answer to this question may not be absolutely clear in the revelation; but the general understanding, both from the revelation and from the interpretations that have heretofore been made thereof, is that once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but that the privilege of passing from one to the other (though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters) is not provided for.” (Priesthood Quorums’ Table., Improvement Era, 1910, Vol. Xiv. November, 1910. No. 1. .)
    As to the Talmage quote in Articles of Faith 1899 edition, I’m sure that you’re quite aware that the current edition reads quite different:
    “It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for; though as to possible progress from one kingdom to another the scriptures make no positive affirmation.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 371.)
    This suggests, then, that either Talmage stopped thinking it “reasonable to believe” that there is progression to higher kingdoms after the judgment, or he was asked by superiors to print otherwise. And if the latter is the case, we must ask ourselves: does that not mean believing in progression to higher kingdoms after judgment isn’t so “reasonable to believe”?
    After all, if such a thing is true, then ultimately the whole message of repentance that is constantly bombarding us in the scriptures is meaningless. That is the logical conclusion to it; you think about it. Because hey, given enough time, we’ll all make it anyway, so who cares now? But that’s exactly opposite to the message of the scriptures. From them we hear, “my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance.” (Alma 13:27) And I haven’t heard anyone refute the message of Alma 34:32-33.
    Mark Butler: I never mentioned Bruce R. McConkie, or the Seven Deadly Heresies. I merely said that the doctrine you guys are proposing is a heresy. But, coincidentally, it is found among the Seven Deadly Heresies, is it not? I didn’t want to get off topic down a rabbit trail that you’re provoking, but since you mentioned it, here goes: You said that “BRM never announced any revelation on the subject”. Well, the beginning of the Seven Deadly Heresies fireside talk begins this way:
    “I have sought and do now seek that guidance and enlightenment which comes from the Holy Spirit of God. I desire to speak by the power Of the Holy Ghost so that my words will be true and wise and proper. When any of us speak by the power of the Spirit, we say what the Lord wants said, or, better, what he would say if he were here in person.” (Bruce R. McConkie, June 1, 1980)
    If that doesn’t count in your mind as revelation, so be it. But just so you know where Bruce stood on it. I get the feeling I’m not exactly in Bruce-friendly territory anyway, but I would like to comment on a few things you said. You said: “How is it that all the notable doctrines of Brigham Young are the Seven deadly heresies of the Church? Was BRM so stupid as to think that it wouldn’t come out that he thought Brigham Young was an Apostate? Or was he so ignorant as to never know what President Young taught in the first place?” First of all, I think that any lay-member of the Church who thinks their spiritual understanding and knowledge exceeds that of Bruce R. McConkie’s likely has got a serious pride issue. Next, the dichotomy you proposed, either Bruce thinks Brigham Young was apostate or Bruce was ignorant, is troubling. If you seriously believe Bruce R. McConkie thought Pres. Young was apostate, I think you may be the one who’s the apostate. Next, I’ve no doubt Bruce knew just as much as you do about what Pres. Young taught, he just interpreted it different than you (and, I daresay, correctly). There are other ways to interpret the strange teachings of Brigham Young, you know (see JFS’s Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1 for treatment of Adam-God). And the teachings you refer to are hardly “notable doctrines” in the sense of import. They’re merely fringe statements misinterpreted and sensationalized by those who refuse to look at the other Pres. Young statements that contradict their conclusions. I apologize for the deviation from the topic at hand and for the length of this post.

    Comment by Ryan Nilsson — June 11, 2006 @ 6:49 pm

  84. Bruce R. McConkie was either a theological simpleton, or had theology beyond mortal comprehension. Unfortunately he didn’t leave enough evidence for us to be sure either way.

    I don’t care how much inspiration he claimed, Apostles have never had the authority to receive revelation for the Church. And whenever anyone claims to receive revelation without proper authority we can generally assume that they are on the high road to apostasy. Remember Orson Pratt? He didn’t claim revelation, but yet his works were censured by the First Presidency with the explicit direction to submit them for review (read: Correlation) before publication. Do you suppose that BRM ever did that?

    Perhaps if he did Mormon Doctrine would not have been such a black mark on his reputation. He is one of those Apostles who is more notable for his mistakes than for his successes. Perhaps if he wrote down why he believed what he believed instead of trying to pull an illegitimate revelation trump card, one that even Presidents of the Church do not get to play, his lifes work, theologically speaking, would not have been largely a dead end – a mystery that no one can figure out.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 11, 2006 @ 11:38 pm

  85. Also, “no positive affirmation” means just that – the scriptures *do not say*, it is a matter of opinion. The whole idea of the virtuous lie, by the way, is and always has been the primary cause of internal apostasy in all ages and times. Maybe the idea that inter-kingdom progression for the diligent few is harmful – then don’t teach it – but to teach that it is a *heresy* without explicit revelation on the subject confirmed by the consensus of the FP and Q12 and published in the official annals of the Church is just that – lieing for the Lord. The Lord has no need of liars – the truth whatever it is, serves his purposes just fine.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 11, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  86. The whole problem with the book Mormon Doctrine is the implicit claim of authority for BRM, then a Seventy, to speak for the Church, and for the Lord. Mormon Doctrine isn’t Mormon Doctrine at all, it is not even Church Doctrine, it is certainly not the doctrine of Jesus Christ, instead it is McConkie Doctrine. His utterly wrong speculative opionion on a variety of subjects that is losing relevance by the day, more ridiculed than revered. A source of embarassment to all concerned. A snapshot of the excessively racist, anti-Catholic, xenophobic views of the stupid party in the Church.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 11, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

  87. circa 1958 that is.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 11, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

  88. Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie were among several in that era who “lied” about what Brigham Young taught about Adam-God. Denied, lied, dissembled, whatever. This all came out with the “New” Mormon History in the sixties, seventies, and eighties to great embarrassment of the Church.

    For example BRM wrote in a letter to Eugene England, February 19, 1981:

    In that same devotional speech I said: “There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our God, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship.” I, of course, indicated the utter absurdity of this doctrine and said it was totally false.

    Since then I have received violent reactions from Ogden Kraut and other cultists in which they have expounded upon the views of Brigham Young and others of the early Brethren relative to Adam. They have plain and clear quotations saying all of the things about Adam which I say are false. The quotations are in our literature and form the basis of a worship system followed by many of the cultists who have been excommunicated from the Church. I also received, of course, your material in which you quote from Brigham Young and others of the early Brethren saying that God is progressing in knowledge.

    Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This, however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel.


    BRM goes on to claim that Brigham Young also believed the opposite view, that Adam was not the father of our spirits, essentially accusing him of revelatory or theological schizophrenia (in the vulgar sense of the term). He also claims that Brigham Young both did and didn’t believe in the proposition that God was progressing in knowledge.

    So essentially BRM’s position is that at best Brigham Young was the worst sort of loose cannon, creating doctrines that are now the basis of apostate cults willy nilly in general conference. That is fine, of course, as long as he is honest about it. Other leaders have generally claimed that Brigham Young was misinterpreted, which is ridiculous.

    This October 8, 1854 discourse is the locus classicus for the doctrine:


    Now I happen to agree that Brigham Young’s A/G doctrine was wrong in certain critical respects, but he definitely taught it. In other respects however, I think Brigham Young understood the truth as taught by Joseph Smith far better than BRM ever did, in this life, in particular in regard to eternal progression, the fall, baptism, the state of the telestial glory, and all the other points that separate classical Mormonism from neo-Hellenistic Mormonism.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 12, 2006 @ 12:57 am

  89. A few relevant excerpts from that discourse of Brigham Young’s, for those that do not want to read it all the way through:

    Now about the rib. As for the Lord taking a rib out of Adam’s side to make a woman of, he took one out of my side just as much.
    “But,” brother Brigham, “would you make it appear that Moses did not tell the truth?”
    No, not a particle more than I would that your mother did not tell the truth, when she told you that little Billy came from a hollow toad stool. I would not accuse your mother of lying, any more (p. 15) than I would Moses; the people in the days of Moses wanted to know things that were not for them, the same as your children do, when they want to know where their little brother came from, and he answered them according to their folly, the same as you did your children.

    I tell you more, Adam is the Father of our spirits. He lived upon an earth; he did abide his creation, and did honor his calling and priesthood, and obeyed his master or Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same, and they lived, and died upon an earth, and then were resurrected again to immortality and eternal life.
    “Did he resurrect himself?” you inquire. I want to throw out a few hints upon the resurrection as it seems to come within the circuit of my ideas whether it ought to come within the circuit of my remarks or not. I believe we have already acknowledged the truth established that no person can officiate in any office he has not been subject to himself and been legally appointed to fill. That no person in this kingdom can officiate in any ordinance he himself has not obeyed; consequently no being who has not been resurrected possesses the keys of the power or resurrection. That you have been told often. Adam therefore was resurrected by someone who had been resurrected.

    I reckon that Father Adam was a resurrected being, with his wives and posterity, and in the Celestial kingdom they were crowed with glory, immortality, and eternal lives, with thrones, principalities, and powers: and it was said to him it is your right to organize the elements; and to your creations and posterity there shall be no end, but you shall add kingdom to kingdom, and throne to throne; and still behold that vast eternity of unorganized matter. Adam then, was a resurrected being; and I reckon, our spirits and the spirits of all the human family were begotten by Adam, and born of Eve.
    “How are we going to know this?” I reckon it.
    And I reckon that Adam came into the Garden of Eden, and did actually eat of the fruit that he, himself planted; and I reckon there was a previous understanding, and the whole plan was previously calculated, before the Garden of Eden was made, that he would reduce his posterity to sin, misery, darkness, wickedness, wretchedness, and to the power of the devil, that they might be prepared, for an exaltation, for without this they could not receive one.

    I tell you, when you see your Father in the heavens, you will see Adam; when you see your Mother that bears your spirit, you will see mother Eve. And when you see yourselves there, you have gained your exaltation; you have honored your calling here on the earth; your body has returned to its mother earth; and somebody has broken the chains of death that bound you, and given you a resurrection.
    (Brigham Young, Unpublished Discourse, LDS General Conference, October 8, 1854)

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 12, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  90. Ryan,

    I actually have no objections to a member of the church believing there is no progression between kingdoms (see my post that says just that here). I did object to the opening statement in your comment though: “Why don’t we all just stick to the teachings of the scriptures and of the prophets, instead of relying on our own philosophies on this issue?”. As you can see, I am sticking with the words of prophets when I say there is the possibility of progression between kingdoms. It is unwise and uncharitable to imply that those who disagree with your personal opinion are rejecting prophets in favor of their own philosophies. That accusation could go both ways in these cases and is utterly unhelpful.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 12, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  91. The glory of a glorious mystery is solved, after which it ceases to be mystery.
    Other mystical teachings of Joseph Smith are no longer taught Harold Bloom, an internationally recognized literary critic, and Professor at Yale University uses his 1993 book The American Religion to examine the Latter-day Saint religion, particularly Joseph Smith, whom he refers to as “an authentic religious genius [who] surpassed all Americans, before or since.” But he stated the church is becoming more and more similar to the Orthodox. He said many elements of Joseph’s mystery religion were necessarily veiled or attenuated–and by the late twentieth century, perhaps largely forgotten.

    Today many Church members are unaware that these pre Christian teachings were ever taught in the Church as a viable doctrine. The doctrine was no longer taught publicly after about 1898 when Apostle and Counselor in the First Presidency, George Q. Cannon, gave a talk before the first Sunday School conference entitled “Things which Should not be Taught in Sunday School.” In this talk Cannon says he thinks it “not wise” to advocate the Adam God Doctrine, Multiple Mortal Probations,or Plural marriages.
    Others disagreed, Apostle Orson F. Whitney, for example, in a 1919 article in the church publication Improvement Era, “subtly expressed his disappointment” that multiple probations weren’t taught as church doctrine.
    A major reason for opposition .University of Utah historian Gae Lyn Henderson observed in her response to A recent lecture on the subject ”What we might label ‘second chance theology’ takes the fear out of religion, and that fear-free religion loses its power to strictly control human behavior” The teachings were dropped for various reasons — Many feel it was to a large extent, because the church was taking so much criticism from the secular world for doctrines they were unable to understand. Another view is that the concept of Mortal Probations represents a threat to the very essence of Orthodox Christianity; The early Hebrews believed that “without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin.” (Heb. 9:22) They accepted the primitive idea that God could not be appeased except through blood sacrifice, .therefore there was a need for Christ’s redemptive sacrifice , The Orthodox never understood that the sacrifice had to be the animal within and not some poor helpless creature without. Crucify the evil within “The Crucifix is the emblem and symbol of the Son of God, not because Jesus shed his blood upon the cross for the sins of man, but because the Christ is crucified perpetually so long as sin remains.” ~The Book of Illuminations
    . St. Francis of Assisi And all the creatures, which are under heaven, each according to its nature, serve, know and obey their Creator better than you. • And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you together with them have crucified Him and even now you crucify (Him) by delighting in vices and sins. ~
    If we are to pay for the consequences of our sins ourselves in further lives and attain salvation through our own efforts, the sacrifice of Christ becomes pointless
    I agree with George Cannon.Discover the truth and then don’t speak unless you can improve the silence I have discovered many privately accept it which publically denounce it.Many who are unfamiliar but have heard of this concept like to refer to the Mattias incident. About 1835 Joseph Smith was visited by a man, named “Joshua the Minister”. “Joshua’s” real name was Joseph Matthias. He claimed that he a descendant of the Apostle Matthias, and that the soul passed from father to son. Joseph Smith said that Matthias’ “doctrine was of the devil” and that he was a murderer (DHC 2:304-05)
    I first though this was a contradiction, but Joseph Smith was not saying the concept of mortal probations was a doctrine of the devil, but that Matthias himself was a devil, and “his doctrine” (that the soul passes from father to son) was a doctrine of the devil. It should be noted that Joseph Smith never used the term transmigration of the soul or reincarnation.
    “Joshua the Minister” (Joseph Matthias) was not teaching mortal probations but a strange doctrine of the transmigration of souls from father to son.
    Over a period of almost two millennia, the Christian Church oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals in an attempt to control and contain spirituality.. Today we have kinder, more gentle people who control spirituality and try to explain the mysteries with opinions , assumption dogmas and doctrines. Truth has many doors waiting to open to those who knock. There is a teaching that is right for everyone according to their level of learning, or enlightenment, but as Jesus once said from the Gospel of Thomas” for he who seeks, let him find bread and not stone”.
    When the Eagles are silent, The Parrots began to jabber
    Michael Otter son, Director of LDS Church affairs, recently said he thought the LDS church was closest to the Unification church in Philosophy. Members of this church are called ‘Moonies’
    As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”
    A Mormon Church leader in denial:, ” Now that’s more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don’t know very much about
    I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it. I haven’t heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don’t know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don’t know a lot about it and I don’t know that others know a lot about it. [Emphasis added]
    The soul comes from God and is destined to become as God.” These beliefs became known as the lost doctrines of Christianity. Ancient teachings that were restored by Joseph Smith. We may attempt to cut ourselves off from the philosophy of the ancients, but since they are based on true principles, we shall be forced to return. A river cannot separate itself from its source and we cannot separate ourselves from the teachings of Joseph Smith. There is no harm for the current leaders to distance itself from early church teaching,but due to the abundance of contradictory evidence, to deny is impossible
    Galileo said:”The authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”
    Another well respected Church leader Bruce McConkie attacked the theology of the early church and Joseph Smith more directly, ridiculing the idea of plural probations. “There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation,” he said in a 1980 church address titled “The Seven Deadly heresies”
    . I entertained Bruce McConkie’s view briefly and discovered his teachings were opinions on top of assumption and flavored with dogmas McConkie’s thoughts are entertaining to those who want to be taught that God had sex with Mary to produce Jesus, or that Jesus and Satin are brothers. Many seek answers and not opinions and assumptions. The ancients taught that truth can be found in the unity of though among enlightened thinkers then it is obvious that McConkie is not Plato and Otterson certainly is no Socrates. We should listen to everyone, Always keep an open mind and let the winds of facts and evidence blow you about as though you were a leaf, with no direction of your own. . Surrender to the truth as quickly as you can.
    Mormon Apostle Hugh Brown said: And while all members should respect, support, and heed the teachings of the authorities of the church, no one should accept a statement and base his or her testimony upon it, no matter who makes it, until he or she has, under mature examination, found it to be true and worthwhile; then one’s logical deductions may be confirmed by the spirit of revelation to his or her spirit, because real conversion must come from within… Speech at BYU, March 29, 1958
    “Let every man judge according to his own standards, by what he has himself read, not by what others tell him”. Albert Einstein
    Many members of organized religion are social annimals, only with the herd is he happy. He cares little if the teachings are truth, superstitions or dogmas as long as it is the view of the herd. He does not think for himself, but lets others do it for him if any unusual doctrine is presented to the typical member he will reply “If that is true why hasn’t the prophet or Pope told us?”

    Comment by John E Martin — June 19, 2008 @ 7:09 am

  92. There is another possibility that I don’t think has been addressed. It is based on a finite definition/interpretation of the word “eternity” given by the Prophet Joseph Smith found in:

    The Answer., Times and Seasons, vol. 5 (January 1844-January 1, 1845), No. 24. Nauvoo, Illinois, Jan. 1, 1845. Whole No. 108, p.758
    Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from of old, from eternity; and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system, (not this world) almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years: and to know at the same time, that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years;-it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known!

    (Was this from his translation of one of the facsimiles?) He said “an eternity” equals 2.555 billion years. That is very interesting in light of the “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8; Abr. 3:4). So a year to the Lord would be 365,000 years to us (assuming linear). 2.555B divided by 365K is an even 7000. 7000 years to Him is an eternity to us. The 7000 years is interesting in light of D&C 77 and the earth’s “temporal existence”.

    Anyway, if someone had to spend 2.555 billion years (an eternity) in the kingdom/degree-of-glory for which they qualify after this (or each) mortal probation, that would be a huge incentive not to squander this precious opportunity! If true, maybe they spend that time preparing to progress.

    However, the term “worlds without end” is also interesting. It could also be that this single mortal probation is totally effective at sifting eternal potential and limits (quality of spirit), i.e. determining who can handle exaltation and who can’t (and never will be able to).

    I think we learn from D&C 19:6-12 that we need to be careful how hard we interpret scriptural superlative words (like forever, never, alway, endless, eternal, etc.).

    Comment by Jesef — February 18, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  93. Jesef- I have heard that the above is most likely attributed to W.W. Phelps, and not to Joseph Smith.

    I’d be interested in any alternative sources of the above that also site Joseph.

    Comment by Matt W. — February 18, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  94. Jesef,

    About the 2,555,000,000 number, please see this comment.

    Comment by Jacob J — February 19, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  95. I came across an article written by JJ Dewey about many of things you folks are talking about.

    He wrote a book called Eternal Lives, which deals with the principle of multiple lives… Here is Chapter two from that book :-)

    My mind reflects back now to another curiosity in Mormon doctrine caused by a lack of information. The Church believes that many of us will go to the celestial kingdom and there become Gods and have spirit children and eventually create our own worlds and people them. Then our children on those worlds will pray to us and worship us as Gods. Since the course of God is “one eternal round” (I Nephi 10:19) that means that the course of God in the past will be like that of the future. Taking this into account it means that our God at one time lived on another world like this. This is recognized by Mormon doctrine since Lorenzo Snow said “as man is God once was.” Now the question that arises is this: When God was on this other world was he the Savior of that world, or was he an Apostle, or maybe he was just an Elder who was a faithful home teacher? Then too he may have died as a baby and only breathed a few breaths. Maybe he was born during a Millennium and knew no sin.

    Let’s suppose that God was a typical member of the Church in His day. He had to spend most of his life just earning a living. He paid his tithes and offerings and did his home teaching and obeyed his Bishop. He never had any opportunity to be a savior for he would have never dreamed of comparing himself to such. Finally, he died and went off to the spirit world and there by some mysterious process learned everything necessary to be a God. Now he is up there in heaven and we worship him. The question I have is, would not God feel humiliated to have a Son like Jesus who showed him up so much when he came down for his life? If this were the case then Jesus did ten times as good in his earth life as his Father did. How can I show due respect to a God that has not experienced all the tribulation of earth life that I have? Such a God could not succor me in every time of need. One can only have a very limited number of experiences and trials in one life. Each person I meet can only understand a portion of my problems because only a portion of his problems are similar to mine. What right did God have to command Abraham to take the life of his son or Jesus to be crucified if he had not went through a similar experience himself? What right did God have to expect his son to be a savior if he had not done so himself?

    Let us suppose that ten million souls on God’s original earth made it to the celestial kingdom and became Gods. That would roughly mean that we have one chance in ten million of having for our god the person that was the savior of a world. Chances would be our God is merely some Elder that did his duty, but wait! The scriptures tell us that we are the lucky ones! Our God was the Savior of a world. Jesus said:
    “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what HE SEETH THE FATHER DO: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth.” (John 5:19-20)
    Here we have it! God must have been a savior at one time for what Jesus did when he was here was almost a carbon copy of what he saw the Father did. Our God then certainly does deserve our respect, but what about the other Gods who were not Saviors? How can their only begotten Sons say that they are doing what their Fathers did? How could they teach anyone else to be a Savior if they have not learned how and proven it through an actual life as a Savior themselves? They could not. To become a God we must “overcome all things” [Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 76:60] and “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (I Cor 15:26) Jesus overcame all things and the last enemy he overcame was death and after many lives it will be our last enemy for we as yet have not overcome all things for he “only hath immortality.” (I Tim 6:16)

    How could one possibly overcome all the weaknesses of mortality in one life? Many believe that in some mysterious way we do not understand we will overcome the weaknesses of the flesh in the spirit. But how can this be so? If one did not pay his tithing because he was worried about feeding his family how can he possibly gain the faith necessary to do this in the spirit where he does not have to worry about survival? One can only overcome the things of the flesh IN THE FLESH. It is as Jesus said to his disciples:
    “And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh and spake unto them saying: As ye have asked me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds Of heaven, to fulfill the promises that I have made unto your fathers. For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I wil1 show unto you how the day of redemption shall come….” (D&C 45:16-17)
    Here Jesus was talking to the disciples during his mortal life and he commented on the apostles grumbling about the hardship of their spirits being separate from their bodies, obviously in the past. But if their life with Jesus was their first life, when were their spirits ever separated from their bodies and, how did they know it was a bondage? If their spirits had previously been separated from their bodies then sometime in their past they occupied other bodies. The disciples were merely complaining about their lack of progress between lifetimes!

    The disciples like Abraham had lived numerous lives as shown in the scriptures: “And Joshua said unto the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your father dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time….” (Joshua 24:2) The other side of the flood probably means before the days of the flood of Noah. “And I took … Abraham FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan…” (Joshua 24:3) This scripture certainly implies that Abraham lived on the other side of the flood, or before the flood, in a previous lifetime

    It is as Joseph Smith said: We progress “from grace to grace and exaltation to exaltation until we attain the resurrection of the dead.” (History of the Church Vol. 6:306)

    Now the common belief in the church is that we are resurrected and then exalted, but Joseph here states point blank that we must first not only be exalted, but go from exaltation to exaltation before we attain the resurrection.

    As we shall see, it is obvious that Joseph believed in reincarnation, but this was one of the doctrines he had to keep secret and teach only with subtle hints except for some close friends as indicated in Orson Whitney’s diary:
    “During our talks he (Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, if it came to him from the Lord or his oracle.” (Diary of Orson F. Whitney June 8, 1889)
    Joseph Lee Robinson, a contemporary of Joseph Smith wrote:
    “We also heard him [Joseph] say that God had revealed unto him that any man who ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the celestial glory and that he [Joseph] felt anxious with regard to himself and he inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph, had never committed adultery. (See D&C 132:41.) This saying of the Prophet astonished me very much. It opened up to me a very wide field of reflection. The idea that we had passed through probation prior to this and that we must have been married and given in marriage in those probations or there would be no propriety in making such an assertion and that there were several exaltations in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, the highest we supposed to be the Godhead and we conclude that there are several grades of exaltations in servants to the Gods. Be this as it may, this is what he said.” (The Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, p.12)
    Orson Hyde applied the term “baby resurrection” to the coming reunion with our bodies. By this he meant that instead of obtaining new bodies by raising out of the grave we will become babies again by coming out of the womb of a female. (From “An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals Of William Clayton,” pg 429-430)

    Other of the early brethren referred to the resurrection as “multiple moralities” and were open to all possibilities as to how the resurrection will play out.

    John Taylor clearly pointed out the need to overcome all things before any final triumph:
    “If any man or woman expects to enter into the celestial kingdom of our God without being tested to the very uttermost, they have not understood the gospel. If there is a weak spot in our nature, or if there is a fiber that can be made to quiver or to shrink, we may rest assured that it will be tested.” (‘The Kingdom Of God Or Nothing,’ page 345)
    “For everyone shall be salted with fire.” (Mark 9:49)
    “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even AS I ALSO OVERCAME, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev 3:21)
    Any reasonable person will admit that in one lifetime it would be impossible to be tested in all things or to overcome as did Jesus.

    Clearly, then, we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and eventually live the perfect life:
    “And he that overcometh and keepth my works unto the end to him wil1 I give power over the nations … EVEN AS I RECEIVED OF MY FATHER. (Rev 2:26-27)
    “As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you.” (John 20:21)
    Finally God says:
    “Him that over cometh I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, AND HE SHALL GO NO MORE OUT (Shall not have to be reborn) (Rev 3:12)
    To show clearly that we only achieve immortality after we achieve the status of the Christ we quote: “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive fullness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive fullness of joy.” (D&C 93:33-34)

    Now I will make a statement that is beyond refute: If a fullness of joy is produced by an inseparable connection of the body and spirit then any connection where there is not an eternal connection will not produce a fullness of joy. If a fullness of joy is not produced then the union of spirit and body is temporary.

    Where is there not a fullness of joy?

    Obviously there is not a fullness of joy in the lower words of the terrestrial and telestial.

    So what does this tell us?

    That beyond scriptural argument the spirit and body can yet be separated and die in the lower worlds.

    Those earmarked for the lower worlds are those who are subject to corruption to some degree. Where there is corruption there is always the disintegration of the form. The scriptures are clear: “Whatsoever temple (body) is defiled, GOD SHALL DESTROY THAT TEMPLE.” (D&C 93:35) All those in the lower kingdoms have sinned and defiled their temples so their bodies shall be destroyed. Furthermore I must point out that a Fullness of joy which produces immortality only comes in the presence of God: “In thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalms 16:11) “They shall inherit the kingdom of God … and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18) Finally we see that fullness of joy comes from living a life like the Christ: “And for this cause ye shall have fullness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, EVEN AS THE FATHER HATH GIVEN ME FULLNESS OF JOY; AND YE SHALL BE EVEN AS I AM….” (3 Nephi 28:10)

    That there is a resurrection of corruption is plainly set forth by Paul:
    “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Often in a future life). For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh REAP CORRUPTION (Greek PHTHORA means decay); but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal 6:7-8)
    The doctrine of reincarnation was revealed to Joseph Smith near the end of his life, but instead of calling it reincarnation he called it “eternal lives.” (D&C 132:25&55) The church has always assumed that the reason the word “lives” is plural is because more than one individual will achieve eternal life (or the husband and wife together make two eternal lives) but this idea does not coincide with the scripture:
    “But if she (Emma) will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless HIM (singular) and multiply him and give unto him an HUNDREDFOLD IN THIS WORLD, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of ETERNAL LIVES IN THE ETERNAL WORLDS.” (D&C 132:55)
    Here the Lord was definitely speaking to Joseph Smith alone, not including his wife or anyone else and promised him IN THIS WORLD (this earth existence) an hundredfold of fathers and mothers (whoever heard of having one hundred fathers and mothers?) brothers and sisters, houses (know anyone who lived in one hundred houses?) lands (How could he live in one hundred countries in one life?), wives and children (Joseph Smith never had one hundred wives and children in this world).

    Remember up to now the scripture deals with “this World” — not the next. However, the scripture plainly points out that only the last few words refers to the next world: “And crowns of eternal lives (plural) in the eternal worlds (plural). In other words, we will live many lives on many other different earths, worlds far superior to this. Instead of living on a telestial earth like this we will go to terrestrial and celestial worlds made of matter whose atoms vibrate to a purer tone whose nucleus of light shines through unfolded electrons until the bodies shine like the sun where there is no night. The highest glory we may obtain in this telestial earth (where we currently live) is to be “servants of the Most High.” (D&C 76:112) All the worlds you see in the sky at night are of a telestial order. The higher worlds are in a light beyond normal vision.

    Only in the Celestial and above can there be a fullness of joy where standard excursions into mortality will not be necessary.

    Comment by MrNirom — March 31, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  96. To me the scriptures are very clear, like in 2 Nephi 28:8 (Some will say, God will justify committing a little sin, punish us for it after death, then save us) and Alma 32:32-34 (“Now is the time to repent.”).

    Comment by W.S.Clark — November 9, 2009 @ 1:35 pm