Your Friday Firestorm #34

Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him. Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment— And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof; Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.

And we heard the voice, saying: Write the vision, for lo, this is the end of the vision of the sufferings of the ungodly.

(D&C 76: 43-49)

Discuss.

Comments

  1. Is that Youtube thing a Dungeons and Dragons commercial?
    Incidentally, further research since my last post on the size of Perdition has confirmed Phelps’s fascination with expanding perdition to include all Mormon apostates. His seems to be the loudest voice (interesting whether that’s because he had been apostate for a brief period, that whole hate-what-you-fear-you-are phenomenon).

  2. Yup, its real alright.

  3. That video made me want to get out my D&D materials, even though it wasn’t a D&D ad.

    As for this quote – well, I’ve had institute teachers tell me “outer darkness/perdition” is not scriptural. Looks to me like it is.

    Of course, on my mission, Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. told us (at a mission conference) that even the Sons of Perdition would be redeemed, because eternal progression meant we could progress in levels of salvation – so that even the lowest of the low would eventually make it to the highest level of the Celestial kingdom.

    Do I agree with him? No. But the ideas are out there.

  4. Name (required) says:

    who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him

    Is there anyone on the planet who could do this? Has the Father revealed the Son to anyone living?

    they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment

    Are ‘endless’ and ‘eternal’ the same or different? Here they are the same, elsewhere they are different?

    and the fire is not quenched

    The celestial kingdom is also referred to as ‘everlasting burnings’.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Well, since the vision says “no man knows,” I guess we really don’t know.

    What do you suppose the line about the Lord showing it by vision to many but then straightway shutting it up again means? Does that mean he gives many the vision, but then removes it from their memories? If not, once the vision is out there, then shutting it up again doesn’t seem to have any meaning. But if so, what good is a vision that no one can remember?

    Since this is so undefined, I count myself among those who see perdition in very limited terms.

  6. Ward Organist says:

    Regarding #3, Joseph Fielding Smith was clear on this one.

    “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 italics are his.

    He continues:

    “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.‘”

    The italics are still his.

    “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.”

    Doctrines of Salvation Volume 2, page 31.

  7. He may have been clear, but that doesn’t make him right.

  8. 5. I think the scriptures indicate that the Lord has shown many prophets a vision of hell as part of the Grand Tour of the Eternities vision. I imagine the experience as an open the door, peek in on hell, close the door quickly event. Those who have the vision see enough to understand the basics, but lack a full understanding because part of what makes hell hellish is its never-ending nature.

    7. Sometimes people are both clear and right.

  9. Perhaps the key to this selection is as follows:

    And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof

    This seems pretty unequivocal that the end of the state of perdition or outer darkness is unknown and that is will never be revealed to anyone except those who are sent there; presumably, it will be revealed to them in the sense that if it does actually have an end, they will learn that at the time that it ends.

  10. I thought we went through the “endless” and “eternal” thing on this a while back, where D&C 19 pretty much spells out that this is the name God gives to this punishment, and perhaps not an actual unlimited amount of time.

    My personal thought, currently unsubstantiated by much of anything, is that if God is both just and merciful, then perhaps there is an end, even to “endless” punishment.

    Cool video, but I was waiting for the South Park kids to show up.

  11. “7. Sometimes people are both clear and right.”

    So true, but who?

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall as BY and JFS duke out the merits of #6.

  12. Not that I think he was right, but Brigham taught, quite explicitly, that the spirits of those who are perdition are broken into native spirit element, which element was then to be reused in the formation of new spirits.

  13. RE: potential for advancement among kingdoms after judgement–

    I believe that if there are disagreements among top church leaders on a particular subject, then it’s safe to assume that the Lord has probably not revealed the truth very clearly on that subject yet.

  14. No quarl with you there, J. I’m thinking of eternal progression more generally, as discussed in #6.

  15. Randy (#14) right on. I wrote my comment before seeing yours.

  16. Regarding #3, Joseph Fielding Smith was clear on this one.

    Yes, but Joseph Fielding Smith was also clear on the “fact” that mankind would never be allowed by deity to travel to the Moon, because mankind’s “sphere” was this earth.

  17. One of the things I’ve always found comforting about Mormonism is that it is harder to get into “Mormon Hell” than it is to get into a “Mormon Heaven.”

  18. I am always amazed that so many people could not accept this revelation when it was given. The near-universalism upset people, seemingly because they *wanted* there to be neverending torment for the wicked. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I love the near-universalism which speaks to God’s unending love (the idea that God gives up on a large percentage of his children is unappealing to me).

    Folks like JFSII and BRM seem to have the same desire for an eternal hell. The effort by them to describe the telestial kingdom in “hellish” terms as a form of “damnation” looks to me like just one more attempt to get back to the pre-D&C76 paradigm of a small heaven and a large neverending hell.

  19. Nick (#16), another debate that would be fun to watch BY and JFS have!

  20. 11. I’ve resisted so many times and find myself unable to do so today. BY was full of it on so very many things. A bully and a bigot. Still a prophet of God, but the more I read his words the more I dislike him.

    I’d also say in a fist fight between any two prophets the most recent one wins.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    Jami, I’d take that bet, because more recent prophets are pretty old. BY in his heyday was a strappin’ feller.

  22. Jami, I sympathize with your sentiments towards Brigham, though some might level similar arguments against JFS.

    In any event, the “last one standing” tie-breaker doesn’t do it for me. I’m with CE in #13.

  23. re # 18, I think that JSFII and BRM were mostly worried about people using knowledge of eventual relief from eternal damnation (albeit at an astronimically high cost) as an “excuse” to procrastinate repentance. Thus, it was well-meant but perhaps showed too little trust in the good in people and respect for their free agency.

    D&C 76 trumps un-canonized sermons or comments of later prophets, I would think. We have the canonization process for a reason. This doesn’t devalue the teachings of later prophets but rather takes a more realistic view about the nature of contemporaneous speaking and the binding authority it should have.

    Note that, in some sense, D&C 76 trumps some passages in the Book of Mormon in which the prophets writing there seem to approach the topic of the afterlife from a more Old-Testament perspective of a simple Heaven-Hell dichotomy. Thanks to progressive revelations to Alma, Moroni, and then later Joseph Smith, we now understand that what some Old Testament prophets (and much of Christianity today) understood as Heaven and Hell is actually Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison respectively. As to both of these, we KNOW that they will end — so there really isn’t any question whether Hell (Spirit Prison) will end because we know that Christ has vanquished it and laid it at his feet. What is now in issue is the state of those who choose Outer Darkness by rejecting a firm knowledge of the Son of God after having it revealed to them by God the Father. The passage that Steve quotes is very clear that no one knows the end thereof and that it will never be revealed except to those who partake of it. This almost implies there is an end to it but only almost, since it says it has not been and will not be revealed.

  24. 21. Metaphorically speaking. Any literal fisticuffs will have to wait until the resurrection. I’ll have to take a look at the fighters in person before I’d be willing to risk any cash on the event.

    Heyday is such a great word.

  25. john f.

    That’s a fair point, they certainly did express concern that people would use it as an excuse for procrastinating repentance. I think there are much better reasons to repent than fear of neverending torment, but whatever works is good I suppose.

  26. Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again

    This is an interesting phrase. I guess that I’m not among the many if it comes to actually having seen the place in a vision. Maybe it’s more like a feeling that God allows us to feel, albeit only for a short time.

  27. RE: #4

    I haven’t read all the posts so forgive me if this is redundant.

    The “endless” and “eternal” punishments are not necessarily measures of duration, as opposed to ownership. They reference to God’s punishment, which (hopefully) will have a finite duration.

  28. What is “it”?

  29. Steve Evans says:

    Fletcher, I’m not sure your #27 is correct. There’s no indication that D&C 76 is using the interpretation given in D&C 19. Further, D&C 19 is definitely not talking about the fate of the sons of perdition. Indeed, the language of v. 44-45 of 76 makes it clear that the punishment is of indefinite duration.

  30. more reason to listen to Jesus

    34 But I say unto you, aSwear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s bthrone:
    35 Nor by the earth; for it is his afootstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the bcity of the great King.
    36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
    37 But let your acommunication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh bof evil.

    Now THERE’S a firestorm scripture!

  31. #13 +1.

    There is much we don’t know about this set of verses. I too take the concept of eternal punishment as the Lord’s punishment “for eternal is my name.” If there is an end to it, dunno. I hope to never find out except tangentially.

    If you look at the concept of sons of perdition as is mentioned in some other scriptures, they say that they crucify to themselves anew the Son of Man and put him to open shame, and that they murder, wherein they shed innocent blood.

    I was talking to someone about this and their concept of innocent blood was one of two things. First, it was the blood of a servant of the Lord, such as an apostle or prophet. Second, they offered that it was committing premeditated murder after you had entered into the new and everlasting covenant. An interesting thought.

    Crucifying the Son of Man anew and putting him to open shame… Joseph Smith said that you have to say the sun is not shining while you see it. The level of knowledge required for this is unknown to me, but he went on to say that it was the case of people who became apostates and sought to undermine the work at every turn and sought his blood, becoming an enemy to all righteousness. I believe he also used the word “many” in this context. Can anyone dig up that quote?

    SWK mentioned in his book The Miracle of Forgiveness, that repentance was a gift and that if you sear your conscience enough, you could lose that gift. I don’t know if he said so implicitly or explicitly, but I took that to mean that a son of perdition was someone that had lost the ability to repent because they had gone too far south. Literally cut off from the Light of Christ. This is likely the state of some of the Nephites that Mormon mourned over in Moroni 9:9-10.

  32. #30, Dan, I always took those verses to mean that you should mean what you say and say what you mean. You should be so honest that you don’t have to swear for someone to believe you… your word is your bond.

  33. Dan, I don’t understand how your comment fits into this discussion. Is it because Jesus didn’t mention Outer Darkness in those verses?

  34. Steve Evans says:

    What John said. It’s not a firestorm because of random, accidental fires.

  35. In T&S 6, the “Twelve” loudly denounce as heresy the belief that people will be saved from Outer Darkness. This is very different from telestial and the “eternal progression” arguments of BH Roberts with JFS & co.

    The earliest material suggest outer darkness as a damnation of infinite duration, but there’s fluidity about understanding who goes there and how, in conversations and sermons, people distinguished perdition from telestial kingdom.

  36. Steve Evans says:

    smb, how do you account from the transition from this earlier black and white view of OD to the eternal progression model? Who was the instigator? I presume JFS didn’t come up with this on his own…

  37. Name (required) says:

    #23–I think that ‘the canon’ has lost its meaning in today’s church. There are things (word of wisdom, for example) that are completely different in the canon vs. actual church practice. Nobody seems to care.

    Perhaps it was the statement from the manifesto–something like ‘the Lord will never permit any man who leads this church to lead you astray’ that killed the canon. If the canon were the real authoriy, you’d hear a lot more “Where in the canon is this business about 1 pair of ear-rings?” sort of questions.

  38. #10 – Here’s a question: Would the endless and eternal argument about punishment in D&C 19 also apply to “eternal life”? Just as eternal punishment is limited in time, to apply the same definitions, eternal life would also be limited in time. This then brings up questions involving marriage for eternity. Does that really mean for an unlimited duration of time?

  39. #38 I like to assume that God refers only to punishment as temporary.

  40. #12: I think I can see some fiction potential there – kind of like The Eye, but with spirits.

    “In a past life, my spirit was a Son of Perdition.”

  41. Steve (#36), Sam can give you a more educated answer than I can, but the eternal progression debates date back at least to Brigham and Orson Pratt. Brigham died first, and Orson’s views, despite being condemned by Brigham, went on to carry the day.

  42. john f.,

    #33,

    No, the reason I bring up that scripture is because I’ve learned, the more I have grown up and gained knowledge and experience, that we really know very little about what REALLY is, and it is sometimes safer to simply say “yea yea nay nay.”

    Take JFS saying that we won’t ever get to the Moon because this is our sphere. he didn’t actually now that but made a conjecture. Whose to say we won’t actually start populating some other planet in another solar system? One cannot say one way or the other. At this point in time, it is of course impossible (just like it was impossible in JFS’s day to get to the Moon—but that didn’t mean it was God’s will for us not to get to the Moon).

    Or as J. Stapley said about Brigham Young in comment #12:

    Not that I think he was right, but Brigham taught, quite explicitly, that the spirits of those who are perdition are broken into native spirit element, which element was then to be reused in the formation of new spirits.

    Just how would Brother Brigham know this? Does not D&C 76 say that no man would know what this eternal torment saved for the Sons of Perdition would look like except to those for whom it is saved?

    Yea Yea Nay Nay dude.

  43. First thought before reading the comments: The verse leaves open the possibility of this punishment ending. I would go a bit further and say that it implies there is an end, but it doesn’t say so unequivocally. If there is the possibility of an end, I’ll take that interpretation over the alternative. Plus, it puts me outside the standard evangelical view.

  44. Dan (#42):

    Ahh — very astute, now that I understand your point.

  45. #42 – Astute, yes; consistent with the original meaning, no.

    Excellent “liken unto yourself”, even if it is outside the original application and meaning.

  46. Steve Evans says:

    “Just how would Brother Brigham know this?”

    er, God told him?

  47. Steve, see my comment #13–

    Certainly not everything that leaders say is directly revealed from God. And when one leader’s statements conflict with another’s, there is reason to question whether God has clearly revealed his will on the topic.

    Leaders have said (e.g. Pres. Hinckley in many press interviews, Pres. Packer in last conference) that they usually receive revelation in the same way that everyone else does–basically the decide/pray/feel good method. So “God told him” may be an oversimplified view of the revelation that our leaders claim.

  48. CE, I was just guessing. Oversimplify, moi?

  49. To be fair, leaders have claimed clear direct revelation in many instances (many revelations by Joseph Smith, and Joseph F. Smith in D&C 138, for example). But neither BY or JFS seem to be invoking dramatic personal revelation on the issues of eternal progression or perdition. JFS’ interpretation (as quoted in #6) specifically invokes his understanding of scripture, and indirectly invokes logic an reason.

  50. In regard to the endlessness of the punishment of sons of Perdition, this scripture is relevant:

    Wherefore I will say unto them—Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

    And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.

    But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit. (D&C 29:29-30)

    In other words, there is a possibility that they might be redeemed at some point, but no promise is given. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to ever make a strictly final judgment, with no hope of redemption.

  51. Steve Evans,

    #46,

    “Just how would Brother Brigham know this?”

    er, God told him?

    Huh, did God prepare a place for Brother Brigham there? After all, doesn’t the Lord say:

    And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof;

  52. Steve Evans says:

    Dan, why are you so convinced that you know more on the topic than Brigham Young? Don’t be silly. If Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon could have a vision on it, why are you quick to confine Pres. Young, the Lion of the Lord, within your limited and narrow understanding of how D&C 76 operates? Preposterous.

  53. Dan,

    Your argument in #51 is extremely weak. Section 76 implies that in order to fully comprehend the suffering of the sons of perdition one must experience it. Brigham never claimed to fully empathize with the sons of perdition in their suffering at all — rather he speculated that God would be merciful enough to allow them to be annihilated and have their spirits essentially recycled.

  54. Dan,

    I think you are neglecting verse 47:

    “Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again;”

  55. Steve Evans says:

    I prefer my bombast to Geoff and Mark’s reasoned explanations, but still.

  56. It seems to me that it is built into the very structure of free will that God may not be able to reach sons of Perdition. It is simply a part of the meaning of free agency that a person could choose forever to reject God. It seems like the Sons of Perdition have chosen to enclose themselves in a world of their own making, defined completely by their own self-concern without taking notice of anyone else. It seems that no one could reach them in their self-enclosed world and they won’t reach out, so they may as well not exist as far as others are concerned. No one can reach them, and they won’t reach out, so there is just no way for them to be saved. The door to their hearts locks on the inside, and they have thrown the key away and forgotten that it even exists, as C. S. Lewis has said of those in everlasting hell.

    Section 76 seems to me to be saying that the Sons of Perdition won’t be redeemed: “Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment— And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows.” It seems to me to be saying that no one can understand the pain and torment of the Sons of Perdition; but it declares that they torment is without end and never quenched. Who could ever understand or grasp based on our finite mortal experience what never-ending loneliness and selfishness is like?

  57. Is nobody going to bring up the old issue of whether a women can qualify to be a “son” of perdition? That question is usually good for an argument.

  58. Steve Evans,

    Dan, why are you so convinced that you know more on the topic than Brigham Young?

    I don’t. I just don’t think that Brigham Young knew enough about this particular topic to state affirmatively one way or the other. That’s all I am saying.

    And recycling spirits? Please. If it were that easy to get away with the worst of sins…

  59. Mark,

    #54,

    Ah, but you seem to neglect the very next verse:

    Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.

    Whether or not Brother Brigham was actually shown this Outer Darkness matters not. He would not understand it, except he were ordained to its condemnation. So, I ask again, was Brother Brigham ordained to its condemnation? If he was, then he would understand it. If he wasn’t, then according to the Lord, he would not.

  60. Geoff,

    #53,

    Brigham never claimed to fully empathize with the sons of perdition in their suffering at all — rather he speculated that God would be merciful enough to allow them to be annihilated and have their spirits essentially recycled.

    Then how do you reconcile the following from D&C 93

    29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

    Maybe I’m venturing into the same realm of speculation as Brother Brigham was with the Outer Darkness and the annihilation of spirits and their reformation, but if Intelligence cannot be created or made, surely it also cannot be unmade.

    And if Spiritual Bodies are different than the Intelligences that reside in them, where do the “evil” Intelligences that get their spiritual bodies ripped apart from them go in Brother Brigham’s analysis? If their spiritual bodies are recycled, what happens to their Intelligences?

  61. I would like to politely suggest that Brother Brigham was imbibing a hallucinogenic form of Mormon tea on this one…

  62. Do we have an actual source that this quote is being pulled from that is attributed to BY or are we looking at a possible peace of Mormon myth? I don’t think I can come up with a scriptural basis to support this notion of recycling spirits, as it seems to be contrary to several tenets with which I am familiar.

  63. #61 – Nice, Ronan.

  64. Brigham, nearly as I can tell, just said whatever popped into his mind, ruthless or kind, sane or insane. No hallucinogens seemed to be involved. IMO he was just so universally adimired and obeyed that very few ever told him when he went over the line.

    So according to BY on (or off) tea, God mercifully “unmakes” the children of Perdition? Those sons (and daughters) of perdition will be resurrected, so they’d have to have those perfected bodies evaporated and then their spirits would have to be blasted into little intelligence molecules, which one would assume would be available to you and me for building our spirit children in some future. Like building with legos reclaimed from a house fire, I imagine. I’d want the new legos myself.

    This is so wrong that I have to doubt that President Young even said it. Proof anyone?

  65. Well, I’ve read about the intelligences of the sons of perdition being, ahem, recycled/destroyed down to their very elements, before somewhere. I remember actually reading it, although this doesn’t necessarily preclude it being myth.

    I’ve always been interested in these poor souls. A couple of quotes from the Ensign:

    In sequence, Joseph and Sidney next saw Lucifer in the premortal world as he fell from the presence of God because of his rebellion. They then saw the sons of perdition and what will become of them in the eternal worlds.
    May 98 Ensign ref. D&C 76:62.

    So yeah, people do know about it. They have visions, even though this goes against the original Firestorm quote.

    From the April 1986 Ensign:
    They reach a condition where they cannot repent. …
    “Before a man can sink to this bitterness of soul, he must first know and understand the truth with a clearness of vision wherein there is no doubt. The Change of heart does not come all at once, but is due to transgression in some form, which continues to lurk in the soul without repentance, until the Holy Ghost withdraws, and then that man is left to spiritual darkness. Sin begets sin; the darkness grows until the love of truth turns to hatred, and the love of God is overcome by the wicked desire to destroy all that is just and true. In this way Christ is put to open shame, and blasphemy exalted. …
    Thus, hell has an end for all consigned to it except the sons of perdition. They alone remain in a hell which has no end.

    Fun stuff.

  66. Dan # 58,

    I must say that your last sentence in # 58 seems to provide a great example for why JSFII and BRM felt justified in making such a strong statement in an area where God had explicitly stated in canonized scripture that it will never be revealed.

    Personally, I tend to lean toward the notion that there is no end to outer darkness mostly because those who are there consciously chose it and have acted against their revealed knowledge.

  67. Dan (#59),

    Verse 48 simply states that those who are shown outer darkness in vision do not understand the extent thereof by virtue of the vision, nor anyone else at the time the revelation was given.

    This is a simple matter of discretion. One does not require a intimate acquaintance with the conditions of outer darkness to comprehend logical propositions about the same. Nowhere in the verse does the Lord promise never to reveal such information.

    That said, I think Brigham Young’s position is tantamount to the doctrine of annihilation. I don’t see a serious distinction between a spirit being blown to bits and the remainder being used to construct new spirits, and the outright destruction of the same. Either way the person is bye-bye.

  68. Jami (#64),

    Here are a couple of examples:

    God is the Father of our spirits; He begat them, and has sent them here to receive tabernacles, and to prove whether we will honour them. If we do, then our tabernacles will be exalted; but if we do not, we shall be destroyed; one of the two-dissolution or life. The second death will decompose all tabernacles over whom it gains the ascendancy; and this is the effect of the second death, the tabernacles go back to their native element. (Brigham Young, 1856, JD 4:51)

    No matter how many deny their God and their religion, God is the same, his holy religion is the same, and all the truth is the same. There is no plan, no device, no possible way in which we can get rid of “Mormonism,” only by taking the downward road which leads to hell, until spiritually and temporally the whole organized being is dissolved and the particles thereof have returned again to native elements. We read in the Scriptures of the second death not having power over certain ones. The first death is the separation of the spirit from the body; the second death is, as I have stated, the dissolution of the organized particles which compose the spirit, and their return to their native element. (Brigham Young, 1862, JD 9:147)

  69. I wrote a post about “Mormons and hell” some months back (in which I discuss the ‘three Mormon hells’); I also discussed Perdition in an earlier post on “who gets saved?“. So I’ll simply refer y’all to those, but I will put here Orson Scott Card’s great quip:

    son of perdition — Judging from the fact that the Lord hasn’t mentioned any daughters of perdition, this looks like one more position that only men can hold. — Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary (1984).

    ..bruce..

  70. john f. (#28),

    “It” was referring specifically to your mention of the “knowledge of eventual relief from eternal damnation” in #23, but could apply equally well to the doctrine of spirits receiving a second chance for salvation (BRM’s 4th deadly heresy), or for the doctrine of progression between kingdoms of glory (his 5th deadly heresy). The 5th heresy goes hand in hand with JSFII and BRM calling those in the telestial kingdom “damned” (which I mentioned in my original #18).

    With respect to all of these doctrines, they seemed to be concerned that people would use them as an excuse to procrastinate repentance. I don’t think that concern is a sufficient reason to take up the positions they did and they may have had other reasons in addition to this concern, but I was agreeing with you that this was at least one motivation for them taking the stances they did on these issues.

  71. ArielW (#62): Do we have an actual source that this quote is being pulled from that is attributed to BY or are we looking at a possible peace of Mormon myth?

    Jami (#64): This is so wrong that I have to doubt that President Young even said it. Proof anyone?

    He said it alright. Stapley put up a pretty good post on it a year or so ago. See here.

  72. Geoff,

    Thanks for sharing that link. Reading it got me thinking about one aspect not talked about in regards to those who have come to this earth and have chosen to reject Jesus and go to Outer Darkness. According to Brigham Young, their spirits get obliterated. But, well, what happens to their resurrected bodies? After all, does not resurrection come to EVERYBODY who came to this earth? Even those who reject God? What happens to the immortal body of flesh and bones? Is it no longer immortal? Or is Brother Brigham saying that those who get sent to Outer Darkness do not get a resurrected body? That cannot be, because the Day of Judgment when we all get assigned to our lots, including those who get thrown into Outer Darkness comes AFTER the resurrection of all those who chose to come here and receive a physical body.

  73. #72 – Dan, if a spirit can be recycled, what’s the big deal about doing it to a resurrected body? I don’t see much difference in degree of difficulty.

    I’m not saying I accept the recycling claim – just that recycling would be recycling.

  74. Dan, if you think Brigham had crazy ideas, at least one person I know thinks that every resurrected body will eventually be recycled.

  75. Hehe…

    Punk.

  76. I only believe in the Journal of Discourses inasmuch as it has been translated correctly.

    I’ve had a fairly interesting afternoon digging through the Teachings of the Prophets manuals and the various, currently approved teachings therein.

    I like what the Correlation Department did for the Lion of the Lord. In The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Brother Brigham is fairly mild on the whole subject of damnation.

    Jesus will bring forth, by his own redemption, every son and daughter of Adam, except the sons of perdition, who will be cast into hell….The punishment of God is God-like. It endures forever, because there never will be a time when people ought not to be damned and there must always be a hell to send them to. How long the damned remain in hell, I know not, nor what degree of suffering they endure.…God’s punishment is eternal, but that does not prove that a wicked person will remain eternally in a state of punishment (DBY, 382-383 as quoted in TPC:BY, 288-289, my emphasis)

  77. 73. Ray–Isn’t the whole point of resurrection that we all receive an immortal, perfected body. It doesn’t make any sense at all to add: Unless you are a child of perdition. Then you’ll get resurrected, judged and then BANG you’ll be gone. Toast! Dust! Back to the elements from whence you come!

  78. came

  79. I don’t admit to fully understand all scriptural nuance, but it seems pretty clear to me in the scriptures that everyone will get resurrected with a body, even the sons of perdition. The scriptures do say that the body will no longer be corruptible (I guess no blood in it, but rather spirit coursing through its veins) and that the glory of the body will be commensurate with the degree of glory we attain. No where in the scriptures does it say anything about the spirit or body being recycled (explicitly or implied). It actually speaks to the contrary such as in 2 Cor 5:1:

    For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

    Maybe Paul was smokin’ some mighty fines there too?

    The other dangerous aspect we have to work with here is that if the spirits of the damned are fungible with native elements for recycling purposes, who’s to say that others aren’t too?

    I will stand to be counted (if it ever mattered) that I disagree with this position of recycling of spirit matter.

  80. What have our prophets said about reincarnation?

  81. reincarnation = no

  82. more specifically, check out this article from the Ensign, Aug 1989.

  83. Jami (#77),

    I agree. Not very economical. Resurrectia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (Resurrections should not be multiplied without necessity) or something like that.

    There is scriptural support that may be interpreted as the exception that proves the rule on this point, by the way. Referring to sons of perdition:

    Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. (D&C 76:38-39. emphasis added)

    In addition:

    And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul. (D&C 88:16)

    These passages together contradict the proposition that sons of perdition will be resurrected (at least while they remain state of rebellion).

  84. Mark D. #88, the church’s official position (as contained within the Institute/student manual for D&C which bears the logo of the church and is copyrighted by Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS) on resurrection is that everyone gets resurrected, even sons of perdition. Pg 204, in reference to D&C 88:102 it states

    The sons of perdition, though they will be resurrected (see Alma 11:41; 2 Ne 9:22; 1 Cor 15:22), will be the last to be brought forth. Like those who are telestial, they will suffer in hell before their resurrection. They will be cast back into hell after their resurrection (see D&C 76:31-39, 43-49)

  85. Mark D. I wouldn’t combine those two scriptures in that way. I think D & C 88:16 combines best with the rest of D & C 88. Verse 18 adds the important reminder that the Lord is talking in about preparing the soul for celestial glory in the prior verses.

    18 Therefore, it [the soul] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;

    The revelation then goes on to talk about other degrees of glory. The verses that I believe applies to the children of perdition, are verses 35 & 102

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

    102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.

    I think that the children of perdition remain unredeemed from their sins (filthy still) but partake in the last resurrection. The resurrection of the damned.

  86. A vote for hell being never-ending from Jacob in 2 Nephi: 16

    And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.

    Alma’s vote for the children of perdition frying forever from Alma 12:16-18

    16 And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness.
    17 Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.
    18 Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.

    I know how well respected the stick of Bruce is around here, but I’ll quote from it anyway. BRM claims in his section on the sons of perdition that their “destiny, following their resurrection, is to be cast out with the devil and his angels, to inherit the same kingdom in a state where ‘their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.’”(MD, 2nd ed, pg 746, my emphasis)

    Eternal hellfire and damnation for the damned? I think my Southern Baptist childhood is showing.

  87. Does anyone think it’s weird that a bunch of resurrected SoPs are going to be spending time with the devil and his angels who have no resurrected bodies? What’s that going to be like.

    I still think they’ll be crunched into spiritual dust and recycled. It’s very green. Sort of like Soylent Green.

  88. I think it’s kind of cool that in the end Satan loses so badly that even the sons of perdition will be better off than he.

  89. Jami, Re-read #73. I didn’t say I believe that resurrected bodies will be recycled; I just said recycling a resurrected body isn’t any harder to comprehend than recycling a spirit, since it is matter, also.

    Again, I don’t believe it happens; I just think if you can accept one (“spiritual recycling”), you should be able to accept the other (“entire soul recycling”).

  90. BTW, #88 – Yep. Claiming to be the God of this world rings a little hollow for Lucifer, no matter how you slice it.

  91. ArielW (#88),

    I am aware what the common position is. However, theologically speaking, there does not appear to be any rational basis for sons of perdition to be resurrected.

    In addition, I think the two scriptures I mentioned suggest strongly that Joseph Smith did not believe that sons of perdition would be resurrected. Here we have scriptures that contradict other scriptures, and in such cases the later, modern scriptures should be preferred.

  92. 89.Ray, I knew you weren’t arguing for the recycling position.

    There just seems to be explicit scriptural support for resurrected bodies being indestructible. So even if the spirit could be recycled there’d be this comatose yucky “perfected” body, spiritless. And isn’t a spiritless body the definition of a dead body? In fact, given the statement in D&C 138 that during the resurrection “the spirit and the body [will] be united never again to be divided,” I’d say that if all are resurrected then all bodies will reunited with their spirits and will never be separated. No recycling all around.

  93. Jami (#86),

    The ‘endless torment’ scriptures in the Book of Mormon are all to be interpreted in light of D&C 19:6-12 – i.e. endless torment isn’t endless.

    In addition D&C 29:28-30 implies that sons of perdition might have opportunity for repentance, but that they have no promise.

    Ray (#89),

    The real problem with Brigham Young’s position is its denial of the eternal nature of personal identity, or “intelligences” (as taught by Joseph Smith in the KFD). That has serious problems for moral responsibility – i.e. if a soul is nothing more than a machine, why destroy it completely? Why not just take rebellious souls into the shop and tinker with them until they behave?

  94. Mark, I agree. Again, my only statement was one of comparative difficulty. I’ll back out completely at this point, since I don’t believe the whole concept anyway.

  95. #91 Mark D, I think that the rational basis are the abundant number of scriptures which speak of the universality of the resurrection. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” being the first that comes to mind. I see references to the resurrection being categorical and not something that is ever doled to the haves and have nots.

  96. ArielW,

    I said theologically speaking – an important consideration when the scriptures are ambiguous.

    So why should God resurrect these folks in their state of rebellion? It appears to be nothing more than a gratuitous waste.

  97. Mark D. “The ‘endless torment’ scriptures in the Book of Mormon are all to be interpreted in light of D&C 19:6-12 – i.e. endless torment isn’t endless.” Why?

  98. Mark D. Is it a waste? Perhaps it is just a promise. Everyone gets resurrected who comes here because everyone who came here has kept their first estate. The door prize for coming here at the very least is a body. Christ came and broke the bonds of death, which guarantees the bodies of all men get resurrected. God keeps His promises. Body + resurrection = universal. You can argue that it’s a waste because they reject the gifts that Christ would offer, but they were righteous at one point (at least righteous enough), so God is making good on His promise to bless them with that body they were told about in the premortal realms.

  99. Lovely ArielW. You realize that you are arguing that God is a sadist, right?

    (If it makes you feel any better, most evangelicals do the same thing in arguing that God goes to the effort of resurrecting people just to make sure they can really feel the burning in hell forever…)

  100. Geoff J, I think that your argument is a matter of perspective. I will start off by saying I obviously don’t have all the answers. I believe that all will be resurrected, even the SoP. I also believe that God always keeps His promises, even if it’s too our detriment. There’s a bit in D&C 29:36 that says that God’s power is His honor. That has all sorts of interesting connotations. I believe that it means in this case that if He makes a promise, He keeps it. Two of them get answered here: everyone who is born on earth gets resurrected, and if you commit an unpardonable sin, you will become a SoP.

    Mercy can’t rob justice. If the SoP’s refuse, are unwilling, or are unable to repent, then justice has full claim on them. Because God keeps His word and punishes those who have gone beyond the pale in wickedness and committed an unpardonable sin, that makes Him a sadist? What do you suggest as an alternative? If one of your children murdered another one of your children in premeditated cold blood, with no remorse, or even the slightest hint of guilt, what would your reaction be? Would you be a sadist for seeing that the laws of the land were carried out?

  101. Geoff J.–God is not a sadist. He is amazingly loving and merciful and has provided a way for every soul to be forgiven and return home, clean and pure.

    The children of perdition are different. Because they have looked God in the eyes and then turned to Satan and followed his heinous evil, they are the exception to the everyone will be saved eventually rule. They will be resurrected because they kept their first estate, but there will be no light or glory in their never-ending life. Flames are (IMO) metaphorical. The pain will be self-inflicted and spiritual in nature. It is sad, but it is also COMPLETELY their choice.

  102. ArielW: I also believe that God always keeps His promises, even if it’s too our detriment.

    Your explanations sound just like the explanations evangelicals try to give for their sadistic version of God. You might be comfortable arguing that God can’t change his mind about who to resurrect or not in order to be more compassionate to his children but I simply don’t believe that.

    Jami: God is not a sadist.

    That is exactly what I am saying.

  103. I don’t see how not resurrecting someone is compassionate. SoP are SoP. They made their choice, and they pay the consequences. Free will is a double-edged sword.

    I believe that God will give us the maximum leniency possible at all times. Which also means (IMO) that He will be as forgiving as He can be. I suspect we are just arguing past each other… we’ve each stated our view points often enough that the horse has truly been beaten to death. Agree to disagree.

    To answer your oft repeated criticism, I am not Evangelical, nor do I play one on TV. I was practically born into the church (mother joined when I was less than 1 yr old).

  104. If you promise your kids that if they jump or fall off the cliff they will hurt themselves, and they do jump or fall off, and get hurt, you can interpret that as having kept your promise. But I interpret that as having known beforehand the inescapable outcome and having educated your children to the extent of their ability to learn.

    God is teaching us immutable (not arbitrary) laws for which He knows the consequences, both good and bad. We are all learning them to the extent of our ability to learn.

    I do not believe He has to enforce His laws anymore than we have to enforce the law of gravity with our children.

    And the resurrection is no different. He doesn’t dole out punishment or reward based on His personal preference, anymore than your children hitting the bottom of the cliff is discretionary on your part.

    SOP’s must go with the devil and his angels because they have totally refused to accept anything else. There is no sadism on God’s part, only them reaping the consequences of their choices. The flames are not literal, but the regret that some people have over their choices even though they are unwilling to change their choice.

    I wouldn’t say that God always keeps His promises, even to our detriment. I would say that eternal laws apply to us even when God might wish they didn’t.

  105. I personally think eternal hell with no chance of parole forever is an untenable idea theologically. It absolutely flies in the face of the notion of justice.

    Seriously, how many years in hell must one suffer before it is enough punishment? Let’s take Cain as an example. So he turned his back completely on God in this life. Let’s say his punishment is hell. How many years in hell is enough for justice to be served? 100? 1000? 10,000? 100,000? A million? At some point the punishment completely dwarfs the crime.

    If spirits are eternal what about free will? Is it eternal too? If so then people are always free to have a mighty change of heart and plead to God for forgiveness. Who here thinks God just plugs his ears and says “La la la I’m not listening” in such cases? Seems to me that God would take Lucifer back if Lucifer had a real change of heart.

    Luckily D&C 19 turned the notion of eternal and endless punishment completely on its head so any Mormon trying to proof-text an endless hell has to deal with that revelation first.

  106. “D&C 19 turned the notion of eternal and endless punishment completely on its head so any Mormon trying to proof-text an endless hell has to deal with that revelation first.”

    No matter which perspective you espouse, Geoff is correct. D&C 19 does erase *certainty* in this discussion – including Geoff’s, ironically.

  107. When I was 19 I had a very long argument in which I took the stance that God would forgive Satan himself upon repentance. I have since decided that was the stupidest debate ever. And I’ve decided that even though God is infinitely merciful, Satan is infinitely unrepentant. I’m certain God will choose the right on this one. And I’m thinking He doesn’t need me to tell him all about it.

    So I am (belatedly) going with Dan: “Yea, yea, nay, nay.”

  108. Thomas Parkin says:

    Quick weigh in: sorry if point is already made somewhere.

    I think ‘punishment’ isn’t the right paradigm.*

    They are punished, but it isn’t punished until they have paid, but punished until they find themselves in a position where they can repent. The moment repentence starts, mercy starts, wherever a creature dwells. The main effect of our personal evil is to minimize our ability to repent. That possibility, or ability, can be made so remote that we have to reach down almost to the very bottom of ourselves to find it. Eternal isn’t only, I think, even primarily, a measure of time, but also a measure of depth, of dimension, of totality. It could very well be that the SoP, or even some of them, have put themselves in a position – psychologically, metaphysically – where repentence is impossible. They have surrendered that element of their free will, it is no longer a part of their make-up. It isn’t a matter of God’s mercy – he can’t, pretty much by the nature of the laws by which he rules, ‘tinker with the machine.’ Inmany ways be good and kind, but never tinker with the machine – except to the degree that the machine can and does allow tinkering, hence repentence and being sanctified. And if the machine has lost that engine by which it could bring itself to repentence they must be forever outside God’s mercy, and that is an awful place to be.

    A similar dynamic may work in other kingdoms.

    *Forgive me for using this word.

    ~

  109. I once knew a man who said in Gospel Doctrine class (he was the teacher) he had had a vision of the place for SOPs. He woke his wife and told her of the dream. The next morning he had forgotten it. But she had not forgotten his telling of it and could remember it in some detail, but of course she did not feel it. So, it was immediately closed up. As for JFS and the moon statement, I was in an afternoon session of stake conference many years ago, a few years before the moon landing, and JFS said” Man will never go to the moon!” And then he paused and said, “Well I should say that man has no business going to the moon.” Maybe some heard him say it unequivocally, but I heard him equivocate.

    Geraldine

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