How populous is Outer Darkness?

Mormons often comment that there is almost no hell in our eschatology, that even the telestial glory is so wonderful suicide might seem a reasonable path thither. In this respect, we are accused of being unwitting Universalists. Outer Darkness, Perdition, lurks, however, outside the kingdoms that encompass the holiest saints and the lowliest murderers and thieves. In this hell, there is no corporeal existence, no access to the eternal human family, no connection to any member of the Godhead. I suspect that most current Latter-day Saints would have a very short list of the residents of Outer Darkness, the Sons (no daughters, sorry) of Perdition. Sometimes it seems like little more than Dante’s lowest level of the Inferno: a lone Judas Iscariot suffering forever. There is some textual evidence that Joseph Smith had a significantly longer list.In his April 1844 church conference address devoted to King Follett’s eulogy, Joseph preached, “after a man has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him…like many of the apostates of Christ’of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They go too far, and the Spirit leaves them…You can’t renew them to repentanc–you cannot save them.”[1]

Earlier, Joseph had approved publication (over his signature) of William Phelps’s poetic rendition of D&C 76. After characterizing the “Sons of Perdition” as those who are “ever lost, and can never return to the presence of God,” the poem declared that such is “the torment apostates receive.”[2]

In this view apostates from the LDS inner circle qualified. Smith would have included George Hinkle, John C. Bennett, the Law brothers (and possibly Jane Law, the sole Daughter of Perdition), Joseph Jackson, Robert Foster, perhaps “Doctor” Philastus Hurlbut. Would Sylvester Emmons, a Jack Mormon (this originally meant Mormon sympathizer) who joined the Expositor group but never joined the church, qualify? What about people like William Godbe of Utah who did not contribute to the death of a prophet? What about George Lee, who apostatized from the Seventy in the twentieth century over the treatment of Native Americans?

Notably, Phelps had met criteria for Perdition after his 1838 betrayal of the Prophet. Phelps was blamed for Smith’s incarceration in the Liberty Jail. Yet Smith rehabilitated him when he returned in contrition two years later. Some authors (me, mainly) see Smith’s approving publication of Phelps’s poem cited above as Smith’s exclusion of Phelps from the general unredeemable status of the apostate, hence this specific extension of the actual revelation in D&C 76. Phelps was proving by his return that he was not among the unregenerate.
So, what’s the story? How big is Perdition? Who resides there, drinking acorporeal cappucinos with single malt Scotch spritzers? Does it matter how we construct the list? Does it affect our relationships with each other, with dissidents and outsiders?
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[1] Stan Larson, “The King Follett Discourse: a Newly Amalgamated Text,” BYU Studies 18 (Winter 1978) 2: 193-208.

[2] Joseph Smith, “The Answer to W.W. Phelps, Esq. A Vision,” Times and Seasons 4 (1 Feb 1843) 6:82-5. See Michael Hicks, “Joseph Smith, W.W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of ‘The Vision,’” Journal of Mormon History 20 (Fall 1994) 2: 63-84 for discussion of authorship of this poem.

Comments

  1. I always find it amusing to hear Mormons classified as Universalists or “sort of” Universalists. That is akin to being kind of pregnant or sort of a virgin. But back to the issue at hand. I find the revelation that is now section 76 very interesting because it suggests that no one (I would assume that Joseph Smith is included here) “except those who are ordained unto this condemnation” are informed of “the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof.” That may have something to do with Joseph’s varying statements about who ends up there–he may have been making educated guesses.

  2. Hm. I don’t particularly care for the new amalgamated version. From the woodruff account:

    No man can commit the unpardonable sin, untill He receives the Holy Ghost, All will suffer untill they obey Christ himself, even the devil said I am a savior and can save all, he rose up in rebelion against God and was cast down,. Jesus Christ will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin they must receive the Holy Ghost have the heavens opened unto them, & know God, & then sin against him, this is the case with many apostates in this Church, they never seease to try to hurt me, they have got the same spirit the devil had, you cannot save them, they make open war like the devil,

    The closest I would be willing to get to your analysis is that for the Saints to “know God” all the blessings of the temple are required (a la Joseph’s 1 May 1842 discourse).

    Regarding perdition, generally, it would seem that from sections 76 and 88 that one must eventually be willing to receive the Son and a glory to be saved.

    From 76:

    43. Jesus “saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him.”

    and from 88:

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

    I could conceive of many who after suffering the pains of hell refuse Jesus.

    There is also McConkie’s second apocalypse. I don’t particularly buy into it, but he describes a war at the end of the Millennium that will be staffed by those of Perdition.

  3. I think it natural that Joseph would wish to see his tormentors and betrayers in hell. Of course, this is mostly loyalty rhetoric; even those Mormons who imagine John C. Bennett experiencing the Inferno would find it difficult to explain why Bennett suffers whilst J. Stalin (et. al.) enjoys a glass of sherry in the TK.

  4. Joseph preached, “They go too far, and the Spirit leaves them…You can’t renew them to repentance—you cannot save them.”

    Note the words, “YOU cannot save them.”

    And yet Phelps was saved, perhaps on his own initiative. As far as we know, the others might yet be saved as well – if they change their course. The most we can learn from this is that perdition is a possibility. Naming names is likely in error.

  5. Clair, I think Dr. B is imagining who might have been on Joseph’s list — and its implications for our hell doctrine — rather than who actually will be on this, rather grim, list.

    Or is he?

  6. angry mormon liberal says:

    I (really really want to go to grad school to) study Evangelicals, so being immersed in ‘If you ain’t saved youse going to hell’ all day leads one to view the more open Mormon system as Universalist…even though we aren’t. Outer Darkness is conveniently vague, so much so that liberals like myself can claim that almost no one will go there and conservatives can condemn all liberals and apostates (after all, aren’t they the same thing?) to a very evangelical fire and brimstone version of it. The very vagueness officially means that a large number of viewopoints can co-exist all firmly believing that they are right. Furthermore, that vagueness allows our beloved (usually quite sexist) folk doctrines to emerge, such as the idea that there are no women in OD.

    Perhaps the official vague doctrine is a good thing? My interpretation of JS statement regarding no one knowing what OD is about except those who are sent there is that that vagueness IS the doctrine

  7. This may not help much, but here is Elder Packer:

    “Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.”

  8. BTW, George Hinkle didn’t think that he betrayed Joseph.

  9. For a view of this among the LDS Bible nerds, see here.

  10. David Brosnahan says:

    I always get the sense from the scriptures that we judge ourselves. We will go to a kingdom of glory where we feel comfortable. IF we have lived a certain kind of way, then thats where we will want to go. And if we remain in open rebellion, then God is not going to coerce us into revieving the Holy Ghost.

  11. Just so you know, in the lowest level of Dante’s ninth circle, there are three arch-traitors, Judas, Cassius, and Brutus, each of whom is being eternally devoured by the three mouths of three-headed Lucifer (a parody of the trinity), whose wings provide the winds that keep the entire region frozen.

  12. I usually equate perdition with the worker’s life in the Soviet Union. This comes from a statement by PJ O’Rourke to the effect that “American apologists for Soviet communists believe that perdition is a good system run by bad people.”

    I’m pretty sure that I’ll never end up in perdition. I’m terribly unimportant, and I’m a lousy Mormon. It’s a safe bet that I’ll never be trusted with enough to warrant such a punishment. Thus, I’m sure to be lost among the nameless, faceless, army of masses relegated unceremoniously to the lowest kingdom of glory.

  13. I don’t think it is correct to say that George P. Lee apostacized over the treatment of Native Americans as it gives the impression that his estrangement from the church was soley or primarily over this issue. It appears that other, more serious issues were at the heart of his apostacy.

  14. I actually come at this from the perspective of imagined (and by this I don’t mean false or artificial or wrong) afterlives. I’m fascinated at Joseph Smith’s exceptions to his otherwise broadly inclusive heaven, specifically the strong sense of betrayal standing beneath them (thanks Bill for correcting my fuzzy memories about infernal traitors). One could wonder whether that undergirds the sense that Joseph Smith didn’t care that much about what people thought as long as they were loyal to him. My early work in Mormon history was on religious toleration in Mormon Nauvoo, and I realized (though it didn’t make it to the paper draft that briefly circulated) that it was personal loyalty rather than doctrinal purity that Joseph Smith valued most among his friends and neighbors.

    I think Phelps actually worried about Perdition–that’s why he extended D&C 76 the way he did. I think we are now less likely to worry about perdition (cf #12), and I wonder whether that implies anything about our understanding of our faith community.

    re: 13, I tend to let people speak for themselves when there have been confrontations with large institutions. It’s often far from the truth (as is the institutional account), but it is how an individual has chosen to understand himself/herself publicly, and I allow it some merit on those grounds.

    re: 2, the amalgamated version is a bit less smooth, but I don’t see any substantive difference between the readings of the sermon.

  15. re: 12, I think of inner-city/ghetto America as being a more graphically violent perdition than life on the kolkhoz, but perdition nonetheless.

  16. Perhaps there will be some consigned to a nonending eternal hell or outer darkness. If there is such a person, I do not think I have met him or her. I do not think I know or know of anyone who is beyond the redeeming reach of our Savior’s transformative and saving love and atonement, nor do I know or know of anyone who has with finality turned down access to that love and atonement.

    I could be wrong. But my hope and belief are similar to that articulated in 2 Ne 33:12: “And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.”

    I have not read the entirety of Gulley and Mulholland’s recent book, If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, but the portions I have read resonate with me.

    Again, I hold open the possibility there may be some who are not saved, but if there are, I personally doubt there will be many.

  17. After reading this, I thought, I could change my name to Perdition and then my boys could introduce themselves as the sons of perdition.

    Seems like a good name for an angst ridden formon punk band.

    I’ve heard the “doctrine” of OD presented more from the view that it will be a limited handful that go there. I remember the metaphor of “seeing the sun in broad daylight and denying it is there” as a rough comparison of what it meant to deny the holy ghost.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Personally, I like Mormon near-universalism, and so I like the notion that the sons of perdition will be few. Since the idea does not seem to be clearly traceable to Joseph or the prophets, maybe this is a case of grass roots revelation (inspiration coming from the ground up rather than from the hierarchy down).

  19. I think the repeated attempts to bring Law back into the fold illustrate your purity vs. loyalty, quite well, Sam.

    Kevin, it seems like you mentioned that same phenomenon (perhaps on the the eternal fate of children who pass away). It would be interesting to analyze which doctrines have more of a grass roots nature to them.

  20. Sam MB: In this hell, there is no corporeal existence

    I was surprised to see this assertion. Where did you get it? As I understand it, the most common view in the church is that resurrection is universal (even is we aren’t real Universalists).

  21. JSJ was often asking apostates to return even as he fought with them. (There is one angry letter to Phelps early on, as documented in Bowen’s MA thesis, but it was shortly followed by the “friends again at last” phrase.) I wonder whether JSJ held it out as a threat for betrayal but at the end of the day really did prefer to imagine everyone living in unity rather than enmity.

    Emblematic of this is JSJ’s (if HC Kimball and J. Young are to be believed) dramatic reversal in his assessment of the victims of the 1834 cholera outbreak.

    A fascinating time to study apropos Kevin’s claim is latter 1844 and 1845. Young’s authority was still being negotiated as the church reeled from Smith’s murder. This was the time when guardian angels were most clearly preached (mostly but not exclusively traced to Orson Hyde), when the temple rites came into somewhat clearer focus, when the Law of Adoption was aggressively spread. Back then the “grass roots” had significant overlap with the ruling quorums. And the regimentation of the Exodus had not yet come into open use.

    This sounds like a fascinating book (not just limited to this period, but mapping out the doctrines of folk Mormonism).

  22. re: 20, let me look back at my sources. my memory says that all those in perdition were bereft of bodies, and I believe JSJ extended this from Satan’s premortal minions to those who fall into perdition after a mortal existence. I could be merging the two categories. i’ll check.

  23. Finally, these comments suddenly make me wonder. Where the hell are Hitler and Stalin according to our system? Do they just spend an awful long time in our Purgatory (the “eternal punishment” of D&C 19), or are they huddled together in Perdition?

  24. Well, according to a friend of mine, there are no inhabitants of Outer Darkness. The friend claims that an angel answered the question of how many people were thus damned with these words: “We haven’t lost anyone yet.”
    Sounds good to me.

  25. Well, I think, as you mentioned, Sam, that Satan’s premortal minions (the one-third), will definitely be considered Sons of Perdition. I don’t think it makes much sense to have resurrected beings comingling with unembodied spirits. On the other hand, every single person is promised the resurrectection. Perhaps the SoP will be denied a resurrectd body? And I think it’s going to be a short list with only a few from this earth and the rest populated by the third who denied Jesus’ plan premortally.

  26. Hitler and Stalin will have to be in the Telestial Kingdom. They never knew Christ. Can you imagine being assigned their home teacher?

  27. Outer darkness. =(

    I don’t think you want to know more about it than you have to. It’s where you go when you hate yourself so much that those who love you are a torment, because you know for certain that you will only cause them misery in return for their love. It’s where you go to get away from the love which is a constant agony because it only points out to you forever how undeserved it is and will always be. It’s a place that is no place, a blessed surcease, a nothingness, to which one condemns oneself when heavenly bliss becomes that beyond which nothing could possibly be more excruciating.

  28. Rob Osborn says:

    Everyone who does not believe and is baptized will be cast out and hewn down into the fire which is the second death. This is the teachings and gospel truth of Jesus Christ.

    How many will ultimately not repent and be baptized? I imagine that it is a very small percentage. Almost all of us will at some point be changed from our carnal and fallen natures and become born of god becoming his sons and daughters in his heavenly kingdom. For most of us this will happen after death and into the millennium.

    In our glorious Telestial kingdom where we now live, we have all different types of beings who have glory (light and truth) in all shades. On the righteous end we have those who have been baptized and are heirs of salvation and are ministered to by holy angels, and on the wicked end we have beings who are murderers, whoremongers, thieves and the like. Some of these will be thrust down to hell while others will bow the knee and acknowedge god.

    In the end though, all those who repent and are cleansed in the blood of the lamb will be able to enter the holy city of god and partake of the tree of life and befilled until they hunger no more and thus will have eternal life. But wo wo wo to those who refuse to repent and turn to god for they shall be thrust out and will not be able to partake of the fruit of the tree of life- these are the sons of perdition.

  29. I know that McConkie believed that Cain was the first mortal to become a SofP, and he wrote in the 1958 edition of MD that “As a result of his mortal birth he is assured of a tangible body of flesh and bones to eternity, a fact which will enable him to rule over Satan.” McConkie derives this interpretation from Moses 5:23 which states that Cain will “rule over” Satan (beings with physical bodies trump those without). Joseph Smith taught that the “entire human family” would be resurrected, and he offers to qualification to suggest that Sons of Perdition would forfeit that right. As I recall, though, Boyd Kirkland wrote an essay in Sunstone called “Of Gods, Mortals, And Devils: Eternal Progression and the Second Death in the theology of Brigham Young” that dealt with Brigham Young’s ideas about Sons of Perdition. IIRC, Kirkland argues BY taught that they eventually diminished (eternal regression) and became disorganized after which their particles were reorganized into something else.

  30. Brigham’s spirit recycling. Love it. Seriously though, doesn’t section 88 state explicitly that those destined will to perdition will be “quickened” or resurrected?

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    J., I borrow the concept of “non-hierarchical revelation” from by friend Todd Compton. See here.

  32. #29 should read “offers NO qualification”

  33. My personal opinion is this:

    In the last judgement we will stand before God. If we say, in his presence, that we hate him and want nothing to do with him, this is then the key to outer darkness.

    If, on the other hand, we want to live in his kingdoms and abide by his laws, this is the pass into the glories.

    Personally, I can not fathom anyone standing in God’s presence, feeling an infinity of love, who could reject that out of spite.

    I know that God is a God of love. He has not made his children to be damned to eternal pain and punishment but for everlasting light and growth.

    As to the New Testiment’s view of eternal damnation, one must give some credance to the idea of cultural norms. At the time of Christ, crucifiction was considered a just punishment for stealing.

  34. any mouse says:

    i “grew up” in the church hearing about a quote that the list would number less than the fingers on one hand, or something like that? i want to say it was attributed to joseph, but i could be wrong. anyone?

  35. I don’t think they’re there for hate. I think they’re truly lost. They cease to be. And it’s a terrible tragedy.

  36. I believe Joseph Fielding Smith commented on the “fingers of one hand” theory, saying that yes, you CAN count the Sons of Perdition on one hand. He then proceeded, “five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five…”

  37. Sam, you state it’s a question of eschatology, and I think it’s probably more a question of soteriology than it is eschatology, IMO. I know, I’m just nit-picky.

    We’ve discussed this at FPR, and I think the notion that it will be very few people (like 5 or so) is misguided.

  38. “How big is Perdition? Who resides there, drinking acorporeal cappucinos with single malt Scotch spritzers? Does it matter how we construct the list? Does it affect our relationships with each other, with dissidents and outsiders?”

    It looks like we’ve missed answering a couple of these questions. I’ve never gotten the impression that anyone worries about how big Perdition is. Everyone seems to be okay with the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven chilling in OD. In growing up in the church, OD was always presented as “you’d have to be near to being translated and then denying Christ/Holy Ghost/… in order to get sent to OD.” So as a result, it was assumed that no one (or precious few) had ever attained a level of knowledge/righteousness so as to be capable of committing the sin in the first place.

    It matters how we construct the list if we start to conceptualize sending lots of folks there and we use it as an excuse not to do anything to try and “redeem” folks.

    Does it affect our relationships? I don’t think so. I think there’s more angst about family members leaving the church and thereby not being part of an eternal family in the celestial kingdom. I think more often the Telestial Kingdom gets used as a banishing place (e.g. the grandmother who is convinced that a grandchild playing the drums can do no better than the Telestial Kingdom) and the expectant bitterness from said “banishings” heavily affect our relationships.

    I guess I conceptualized OD as a place where it might be possible that someone from the second estate could go, but I’d never know it and there’s no one I could think of that would end up there. I guess that implies that I assumed that Judas would end up the Telestial Kingdom.

  39. A quick question to everyone, do you all think that Judas Iscariot is a SoP?

    The reason I ask, is that I have always thought that SoP were people who had a perfect knowledge and then denied it. I wonder if Judas truly had a perfect knowledge. I wonder about this because of what Christ told Peter in Luke 22:32,

    “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

    If Peter at this point was not converted, I think it is possible that Judas was not converted either. Hence, he wouldn’t have a perfect knowledge that would be needed for a person to have the potential of being a Son of Perdition.

    Thanks, I know it is a little off topic, but it is something I have wondered about for a while.

  40. David J, I think of eschatology in the broad sense in which it encompasses the portion of soteriology relevant to post-judgment disposition. I agree that this is broader than strictly the eschaton, but I tend to see it used that way. And I tend to think of soteriology as a tiny bit narrower in terms of grace, christology, and salvific encounters, but I agree there is terminologic overlap here.

    Dan K, your point on Judas is appropriate to raise. To the extent that Joseph Smith thought of SoP as those who betrayed the prophet and thereby contributed to his death, Judas is a perfect fit. In the more restrictive but nebulous sense we see elsewhere in his writings, you may be correct that Judas is excluded. I believe BY placed Judas there, but I haven’t looked recently.

    AC, I appreciate your comments. Perhaps I had in mind the conflation of apostates with children of Perdition from JSJ’s comments, thinking about what it meant to consider that those who betrayed Joseph were destined for a realm below any glory. I think you’re right that telestial kingdom, bereft of family ties, is considered drastic enough by many.

  41. re #39

    after reading the second paragraph under the “Holy Ghost” heading in the Bible Dictionary (pg. 704) i dont think Judas Iscariot was capable of committing the unpardonable sin since he never received the gift of the holy ghost.

    Maybe it was this lack of the “gift of the Holy Ghost” during Jesus mortal ministry in which Peter found himself denying [Christ] thrice (sans testimony meeting “shakes”).

    just a thought

  42. T B,
    That is a good point. However, I wonder to what extent one must have a relationship with the Holy Ghost in order to be able to sin against it. 8yr olds are baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, but I would say that they would still be incapable of sinning against the Holy Ghost.
    I know that is an extreme example, I am just wondering what progression a person must attain in order to reach the level where they can possibly be a S of P.
    I would argue that it has ot be mroe than just receving the gift of the Holy Ghost, there still must be a level of conversion or knowledge attained to be able to reach(stoop) to that level.

  43. Folks like Talmage and Brigham thought Judas was perdition but later folks like JFSII thought he was unlikely a candidate. This latter perspective has been championed by many in the Religious Education dept. at BYU as demonstrated in the recent publicity of the Gospel of Judas.

  44. Rob Osborn says:

    Two thing I would like to comment on here.

    The first is our thinking on the lines of the Telestial kingdom. The Telestial Kingdom is not a clearing house for the wicked. One thing that bothers me is that we think our gospel teaches that wicked people can be saved into a place outside of Satan’s rule even though they themselves are wicked. There is no such place. The wicked go to hell and the righteous go to heaven.

    The wicked are those who refuse to repent and believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized for a remission of their sins. These souls get cast out after the last great day of judgment because of their refusal to repent and be born again. Repentance and further holy ordinances are required in order to be saved from Satan’s power.

    Many see past the mark and do not realize that this earth right now is the Telestial Kingdom. In the end there will be only two places for all to dwell- either in the kingdom of heaven (Celestial kingdom of god), or in the kingdom of the devil in hell. We must choose between either eternal life in heaven or eternal death (second death) in hell.

    The second thing of note concerns Judas. According to our scriptures, Christ himself calls him a son of perdition. Look at John 17:12, Christ is speaking of the twelve apostles and praying to the father in their behalf. He says that none of them are lost except the son of perdition, meaning Judas. This is confirmed later on in the Book of mormon when Christ is visiting the Nephites in America. In 3 Nephi 27:32, Christ is telling the people that none of them are lost, but that 4 generations there will come again in the land sons of perdition for they will “sell me for silver and for gold” this is in direct reference to Judas Iscariot and how he betrayed Christ by selling him in turn for silver and gold.

    The only real qualifications for becoming a son of perdition is to know the truth manifest by the holy ghost and then turn wholly from it. Judas did this by first tasting of the goodness of Christ, but then being overcome by the devil. David also allowed himself to fall from his exaltation and he has his portion also in the second death which is pronounced upon the wicked after the millennium is over.

  45. I don’t know, Rob.

    The Telestial Kingdom is a kingdom of “glory.” I think there is an infinite difference between some degree of glory (however small) and no glory.

  46. The debate over exactly what it means to deny the Holy Ghost has been discussed at the highest levels. Joseph F. Smith believed that Judas was incapable of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost because he betrayed Christ prior to the day of Pentecost where the Spirit was revealed abundantly. He surmised that the Brethren did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until Pentecost, Christ being in their presence directly during the Galilean ministry. Elder McConkie clearly sees Judas as a son of perdition, quoting the Savior who labeled him such.

    My take? The overwhelming qualifier for becoming void of repentance is Paul’s reference in Hebrews: “the crucify unto themselves Christ afresh.” It seems clear why they cannot partake of the Atonement, why they are beyond healing: how can one repent if as soon as Christ extends His hand, they reach to cut it off? You can’t accidentally commit the unpardonable sin; these characters are out for blood, innocent blood, Christ’s blood. They may not be able to kill Him, but in their hearts and minds, they are out to get Him, and in Joseph’s words in the King Follett discourse, they seek the blood of the prophets when Christ is no longer able to be preyed upon.

    David? Judas? John C. Bennett? William Law? Not in my book. Cain, yes. And that about does it for my list. Thank heaven Christ is the Mediator and God is the Final Judge.

  47. Oh, and one thing about Rob’s comment:

    Is it possible that Christ’s reference about Judas being a son of perdition may be different than committing the unpardonable sin? I think it’s totally within the realm of possibility that Christ is calling Judas a “son of Satan,” because clearly, “Satan entered into [Judas]” it says in John.

    Can one be serving Satan and yet not know fully the import of such rebellion? I think it’s possible at least.

    So, yes, Judas is clearly a “son of perdition,” but we do not have scriptural justification that Judas is beyond the degrees of glory.

  48. Rob Osborn says:

    That is the point though, Judas did commit the unpardonable sin. If we say that he didn’t commit an unpardonable sin, then all the rest of us are exempt also from ever committing that sin as we too could find possible justification for committing such acts in willing ignorance of the law of eternal justice. Christ himself asked the Lord to forgive those who crucified him for they “know not what they do” )the soldiers). Judas on the other hand knew fully well what he was doing and also knew who Christ was and what his divine mission was. If the pure loveing service of living within Christ’s humble group and seeing miracle after miracle performed won’t change you- nothing possibly could!

    We give Judas too much credit, sure he was a good guy at one time, but so was satan! And what caused satan to fall? Probably no difference for Judas. Judas traded his eternal salvation for money- plain and simple! He sold Christ, and in so doing, he fell from glory just as David also fell from his glory.

  49. Rob Osborn says:

    BTW, What would be the difference between Cain and Judas? They both killed for worldly gain after knowing and tasting of God’s goodness!

  50. How populated is Outer Darkness? Well, it is a place for the devil and his angels, and the sons of perdition.

    So we’ve got the devil (that’s one).

    His angels. Well, how many angels does the devil have? If we go by the literal account that a third of the hosts of heaven rebelled against God, that number gets to be HUGE! My own personal guess as to how many children there are of our Heavenly Father is about 100 trillion. That is, those are the other two thirds of the hosts of heaven who followed Christ. So the devil’s angels could add up to 50 trillion.

    The sons of perdition. This list is rather small. There are few people on this earth who have known the Holy Ghost and then gone and denied it.

    So approximately 50 trillion souls would be in Outer Darkness.

  51. Judge not, lest ye be Judged…(NT and BOM)

    Forgive everyone…(D & C)

    Avoid Final Judgments…(Elder Oaks)

    This always curtails me from specific speculation on OD.

  52. oops, I meant 100 billion not trillion…..

  53. SilverRain says:

    I think the safest thing to say is that if you’re bound for Outer Darkness, you’ll know it.

  54. re# 39

    i clearly recall the time when an Elder Rector Jr. of the First Quorum of the Seventy presided at a mission zone-conference and was asked the question:

    What IS the true meaning of …art thou come hither to torment us before the time? as found in Matt. 8:29 (v. 28-33)?

    expecting a sunday school answer he proceeded to drop bombs (for three hours!).
    ‘…the time meant the literal END OF TIME for those who were cast out of heaven… Why does TIME END for those who enter Outer Darkness? Not because this eternal round has no end, it does. But because that is where all matter becomes unorganized…TIME will no longer exist for them because they will cease to exist…the matter and intellegence comprising of their spirit body becomes unorganized…Maybe this dimension is where GOD(S) organizes matter into worlds without number…if this was to be your fate would you not want to possess the physical body any living creature…’
    he then went deeper with an intruiging Universalist idealogy (with adequate references).

  55. Mike Parker says:

    The conclusion of the oath and covenant of the priesthood has this interesting language:

    Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. (D&C 84:40–41)

    There is nothing in this revelation about denying the Holy Ghost or having a sure knowledge or having one’s calling and election made sure — just receive the priesthood, and then “altogether” turn from it.

    Perhaps there are more people headed for O.D. than is commonly believed.

  56. Rob Osborn says:

    Acording to the scriptures, anyone who doesn’t repent is also headed for outer darkness. I would have a hard time believing that only fallen members of the church go to outer darkness. There are wicked people that want no part or portion of the lord to begin with. Jesus won’t possibly save these people, they must suffer even as Christ because of their filthy unrepentant state.

  57. Rob, I think that Smith’s writings probably don’t support that view, which seems to meld his telestial glory with outer darkness. Mike, #55, there is certainly that thread in Smith’s writings, which is why I posted this in the first place. That is certainly not the teaching of the church, and it’s hard to know how Smith would answer the question now if he were approached with that interpretation of his revelation. He tended to forgive and reclaim quickly in practice, even talking people out of killing him while hoping to bring them back (I’m thinking of Robert Foster).

  58. Rob Osborn says:

    Sam MB,

    The writings of Smith might not support it but the scriptures support the view of the unrepentant going to outer darkness. The Telestial can’t be outer darkness either can it?

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