My Little Heresies, Part Three: Everyone lives! Everyone lives!

[This is a part of a series. Part one is here, part two is here, part four is here.]

Often, when we talk about the Celestial Kingdom, we discuss it as if it is a very exclusive club. We all aspire to it, but many of us assume that we aren’t good enough to get in. That’s not a helpful or joyous approach, I think. Instead, I’m going to argue for the democratization of God’s realm.

Christ is our perfect exemplar. We are meant to follow His example in all things. But we are not physically or emotionally capable of doing that right now. Likely we won’t be before we die. Mortality is defined by caring about the wrong things too much. We have limited vision and misguided cares.

Even if we were capable of exactly following Christ’s example, we don’t have the divine qualities necessary to enact an atonement. It’s a significant difference. We can’t do all the things that Christ did. But we are meant to be joint-heirs, partakers of the same divine nature. Is it fair or just for us to receive the same reward or become the same sort of divine being, if we aren’t able to make the same sacrifice?

Some people get around this by positing multiple mortal probations (arguing that each attempt gets us closer to being able to do what Christ did). Others argue that Christ and God are just different from the rest of us, so when we become kings and priests, queens and priestesses, in our own right, it means something different. We’ll never be a God like God is a God; we’ll be gods and goddesses. I don’t like either explanation, in part because I think neither is necessary and both inadequate.

When you consider how Christ discussed himself, one of the traits He emphasizes is His submission to His Father’s will. Even in saying that He only did what He saw His Father do before Him, He is admitting to primarily working His Father’s will. Christ’s life, as I tried to say, is defined by this submission, even though He was presumably perfect in his own right. Nonetheless, coming to earth and suffering the will of the Father was necessary for him to consider himself perfect.

How does this relate to us? Well, if we can’t do what Christ did, we may be able to submit as Christ did. Only in this do our little efforts approximate Christ’s great deed. Consider this quote, by Elder Maxwell:

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24)

In addition to being the only way in which we can truly be like Christ, it is also the only way in which we can become like Christ. What is the means? Repentance.

Yesterday, I argued that repentance is the process by which we become more like Christ. This is how I envision it happening. We sin. We realize we sin, because we encounter God. We fall, because there is a huge gap between us and God. We pray and plead for God to close that gap. In this moment, we are willing to let God impose on our agency, so he can make us better. Then once we are better, we do restoration and so forth out of genuine desire.

Messing with agency is not something God does willy-nilly. Messing with agency was the reason that Lucifer got the boot. Many people feel that personal agency is such an important principle that no-one should ever be forced to do anything. Certainly, God doesn’t impose His will. Except that He will, if we ask Him. When we ask Him to change our hearts, to give us a second-birth, to make us desire what He desires, we are asking Him to interfere in our agency. Our agency is, essentially, our desire.

In order to get into the Celestial Kingdom, we must repent during our period of mortal probation. However, our period of mortal probation clearly extends after our death. If those who die without hearing the gospel, but who accept it after they die, will be allowed entry, then the period after death but before judgment is still a period of probation. You can’t even argue that those who had a chance in life are barred entry, because Peter tells us that those who died in Noah’s flood were visited by Christ in spirit prison. We generally take that to indicate the beginning of the post-mortal ministry, influenced by D&C 138. So, if the folks who ignored Noah get a second chance, I tend to think that the dude who slams a door on the missionaries will get another opportunity.

In fact, I think that God has designed this whole experience to put pressure on us to repent so that we can get back to him ASAP. Sin results in pain; pain turns us to God. Mortality results in pain; pain turns us to God. Life results in mistakes, regret, guilt; all turn us to God. If, for whatever reason, we make it to the end of life and haven’t turned out will over to God, then we’ll work on that in the afterlife. I have a feeling that God can delay the judgement as long as necessary.

I’m not sure he really has to, though. There is a fruitful way of approaching death that argues that our death is, potentially, our calling and election made sure. Or, as Elder McConkie put it:

I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this: You get on the path that’s named the “straight and narrow.” You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life – though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do – you’re still going to be saved. You don’t have to do what Jacob said, “Go beyond the mark.” You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this is the probationary estate – you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. (link)

If you are on that path, in spite of your faults, you will be made divine. And since being on that path is a matter of personal will combined with biological and historical happenstance, I think that this promise is extended to those who get on the path in the afterlife. And I think everyone will. Well, almost everyone…

The last one tomorrow.

Comments

  1. it's a series of tubes says:

    Often, when we talk about the Celestial Kingdom, we discuss it as if it is a very exclusive club.

    Though I am a lifelong member, this has puzzled me. If we believe two things:
    1) those who come to earth, but die before the age of 8, receive a celestial inheritance (D&C 137:10); and
    2) children who are born in the millennial time will live without sin (D&C 45:58), and thus we can infer they receive a celestial inheritance;

    A quick look at historic mortality rates, as well as a reasonable estimate as to how many people might be born during a thousand years of peace, seems to indicate that a very, very large percentage of the people who ever live on the earth will go to the CK.

  2. Do scriptures about “landing our souls at the right hand of God” (Hel. 3:30) support this notion that once we enter the path we never leave?

    Oh, and one more thought–given how many times Jesus says that “the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto…,” doesn’t it seem to make sense that since such an experience [the afterlife] could be so similar yet so dissimilar from life here in the second estate that the Lord uses many, many metaphors to create a mosaic-like approximation of it? And it seems to me that if we focus too much on one tile or metaphor of that mosaic, we may loose sight of the whole picture. We could also loose a healthy sense of the mosaic’s ambiguity.

  3. Shawn,
    I think that Elder McConkie (and I) think that the rules are different in the afterlife. I can’t speak for Elder McConkie, but I think it is because the veil is lifted. I’ll explain that tomorrow, but it has to do with why I think there will be sons (and daughters) of Perdition.

  4. I also feel that virtually everyone will make it. I’ve sometimes considered the lower kingdoms as staging areas that some of us (maybe all of us?) have to go through before going to the celestial. I also don’t know what the point is of temple work throughout the millenium if we don’t believe that those people (for whom we’re doing the work, who will be resurrected with terrestrial or telestial bodies) will need the exalting ordinances to get to the celestial level.

  5. “Mortality is defined by caring about the wrong things too much” – FTW

  6. Sabrina says:

    So far, I am completely on board with all this heretical talk. You have a much better way of explaining it than I do. I would add though that an important step in our repentance and progression is receiving the real baptism by fire, something I believe is a defining moment, probably not felt by most 8 year olds or even older converts upon their confirmation into the church. That moment is when the Atonement really changes you and makes you capable of becoming “celestial material”.

  7. I too believe that most of God’s children will make the Celestial Kingdom at some point. If God is truly a loving father, it would seem appropriate that he would do everything in his power to give us every blessing he has, short of removing our free will.
    Also I think many of us can learn from the Parable of the Prodigal Son. That was mostly a lesson about the state of things in the eternities rather than life here on earth.
    I like this stuff!

  8. Geoffsn – This is an interesting topic that has created a lot of controversy in the Church. Some have been for this idea of progression from kingdom to kingdom (Brigham Young, James Talmage) and some against (Bruce McConkie, Joseph F. Smith). I think it is interesting that the Sec. to the First Presidency published a response to this saying that the Church’s stance is neutral on this issue.

    I wonder why? I would assume it is because IF it is true, we would settle for far less and spend eternities not progressing. I don’t know the answer and lean on the side of there not being progression from one kingdom to the next, although there may be progression within them, but again…I have no idea!

  9. So you reject kings/priests cosmology, but you don’t precisely present an alternative. You give how to get there, but not what there is.

  10. I’m really enjoying the heresies –can’t wait for the final installment!

    A friend once told me (in reference to a child making unfortunate choices) to always remember that this life doesn’t end with death and to cling to the “eternal progression” idea. Works for me.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    J., what’s the worse sin?

  12. I have never believed that the Celestial Kingdom was going to be an exclusive club. It doesn’t make sense to me that God would make a plan where only a small percentage of His children make it back to him. Having said that, I am not sure I accept the idea of kingdom creep… but eternity does seem like a long time to be hanging out in the telestial kingdom…unless they have good surf, then it might be ok.

  13. I guess I’ll also add that I was always fascinated by section 19 of the D&C and the “Everlasting/Eternal Punishment” not really lasting forever. I’ve also always felt found it interesting that in addition to indicating that no one can know the physical dimensions of outer-darkness, we also can’t know it’s temporal duration. This implies that there is a duration. If outer-darkness only lasts for some set time, it seems to make sense that the same can/should be applied to the other possible destinations.

    Also, the promise that so many parents hold dear (and for many is the main drive for temple sealings) that if they are faithful, all of their children will make it to the celestial kingdom seems to indicate to me that there will be movement between kingdoms. I don’t know of any Latter-day Saint that thinks that Adam and Eve weren’t faithful to their covenants; so what does this mean for Cain?

    Eric is right that there is controversy surrounding this idea, and I believe he’s right that it is because it seems to take away incentive to improve now (see section 19, implying it lasts forever makes it “more express… that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men”). In my opinion, obedience based upon fear of punishment is far inferior to obedience based upon love and desire to love/serve. Even if you believe you’ll make it no matter what, if you’re obeying because of love for the Lord, you’ll be just as faithful (if not more so) as if you obeyed out of fear of eternal damnation (being stuck in any lower kingdom, or lower part of the highest kingdom, is being ‘damned’ eternally).

  14. Jenkins says:

    I have to admit I’m confused by Eric’s comment and geoffsn agreement with it that an idea of kingdom creep or multiple mortal probations take away incentive to improve. Why? If I know that everything I do to improve myself will ultimately count in my favor and lead me to something better why would I lose incentive to improve more? To me it is the ultimate incentive!

    For me the statement by Bruce R. McConkie, (quoted in part below) takes away much more incentive to strive to be better. He seems to be saying just be an average church attending Mormon and you’re calling and election is made sure.
    “What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church – keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this is the probationary estate – you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure.”
    Where is the incentive to learn and grow with that outlook on life?

    I guess for me the question is, what is the purpose of this life? Is it to do what’s necessary to be ‘saved’ or is it to learn to become like God? I want to learn and grow and become like God as much as I can understand what that means at this point in my existence. I know I can’t do it all in one lifetime, that’s why there is an eternity and it seems ludicrous to limit ones progression for the rest of the eternities based on a small sliver of our existence in this one mortal lifetime of a few short years.

  15. Stapley,
    I think we’ll be gods. Or Gods, if you prefer. I’m taking joint heir to mean a full inheritor.

  16. I’ve always thought D&C 19 hinted that everyone would make it eventually. “Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. 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… For behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given by my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name.” (D&C 19:6-7,10).

    I’ve heard it said that anything other than Celestial glory would be considered a “Hell” because we would realize that we hadn’t reached our full potential. If it is “not written that there shall be no end” to the torment, doesn’t there mean that there is an end, and thus progression? I’ve always thought the “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men” phrase in vs. 7 made it sound like the punishment is labelled as “endless” or “eternal” only so that we take it seriously, not because it actually has no end.

  17. In reference to Jenkins – I’m not saying that is the reason we don’t know. It was just a thought…and obviously the purpose of this life is to become like God out of love for Him. That being said, I think we all strive to be better because we DON’T want to be left somewhere else other than the Celestial Kingdom and some of that may stem from a fear of not achieving the potential we are capable of. I don’t necessarily consider it a fear of punishment (for me), but a fear that I will not have become more like God by the end of this life.

    I just have a hard time believing that “everyone will make it” because honestly, not everyone wants to be in the Celestial Kingdom and live the laws that it requires to be there. It isn’t like it just becomes easy after we die. The scriptures repeat over and over again that this life is the time to repent; not the next life, not when we are in the kingdom we are assigned to…now. I am reminded of what President Spencer W. Kimball said on the matter in The Miracle of Forgiveness: “No progression between kingdoms. After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory. That is eternal! That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions be right.”

    I know the Church hasn’t made an “official” declaration, but I tend to agree with President Kimball’s assessment.

  18. Sorry…one more thing. I think the scriptures are clear. This is just one example but there are more in Sections 131, 76, etc.

    (D&C 132:15-17) “Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory. For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.”

  19. Great discussion. Surely God hasn’t done all He has just for a few of His children. I’ve thought a lot about this over the years and have wondered how it will come to pass that a nonmember of the Church who in mortality here has a negative opinion of “Mormons”, would never listen to the missionaries, etc.–how God has worked it out that in the hereafter he will be taught. What will change him into wanting to be taught? Any ideas?
    That seems like a great stumbling block to me but surely God has planned for this and we are told that missionary work is the big work that happens in the spirit world. I wonder if the “life review” helps people to want to repent, get rid of their baggage so-to-speak, as they come to realize they can’t do it on their own–they need a Savior and the Atonement and how do they get that?–the Church. Somehow there must be a way to reach good people who simply are misinformed with false perceptions about the Church.

  20. 18. Eric–most people on earth have not had the opportunity for eternal marriage. That also goes for many LDS women. Since it is no fault of their own, one day it will be made up to them.

  21. @Eric
    I’m so glad Miracle of Forgiveness isn’t canonized. I know it helps some people a lot. There are several parts of it that just don’t seem right to me. Let’s just glance at the section on homosexuality, which says “Our ills are usually of our own begetting…” “The cure is as permanent as the individual makes it…” and “As with any other sin, forgiveness and recovery are dependent upon the offender’s repentance, which begins with recognition of the sin and acceptance of personal responsibility for it.” How does he propose one becomes a homosexual? Masturbation. Thankfully the church’s position on homosexuality has progressed.

    In any case, President Kimball’s opinion is obviously just one of many among the leaders of the church.

    As for your example in section 132 for justifying that there is some damnation for progression to higher levels, I don’t buy it as a permanent damnation. If that were the case, there’d be no reason to do proxy sealings for people who had a chance to hear the gospel in this life. It would also mean that women who don’t marry in this life won’t get a chance with one of the stripling warriors ;)

    I think part of the reason I’ve often considered the lower kingdoms temporary is that, as you noted, “not everyone wants to be in the Celestial Kingdom and live the laws that it requires to be there.” But eternity being what it is, and they having previously indicating a desire to be there (hence being children of God, keeping their first estate, etc.) I’d imagine that eventually they’ll want to.

  22. D&C 76:32-39 makes it plain that there is no forgiveness for sons of perdition in this world or the next – so even if there torment does end (see vv. 43-48) they will not receive a fulness of joy (D&C 93). D&C 76:112 also makes plain that after the resurrection and judgement there will be some souls who will never go where Christ is. The demarcation is everlasting. This makes our probation a real and genuine probation. I don’t think we can extend probation indefinitely.

    However we can be reasonably optimistic that numerous (the majority) of God’s children will be saved in the celestial kingdom. The salvation of little children who die before age eight coupled with the redemption of the dead who never heard convince us of this. The celestial salvation of ‘second chancers’ is not taught in D&C 137 and we are specifically told in D&C 76:74 that they will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. The doctrine of eventual progression from lower kingdoms turns them into Mormon limbos! There is plenty of heresy in that.

    We can’t ignore Alma 34:32-36 or Alma 12:9-11 or a host of similar declarations. Look at D&C 88:20-32, D&C 132:17 and D&C 138:17, 58-59. How does a person who receives a terrestrial body to match their terrestrial spirit (for example) and from which their spirit cannot be divided gain a celestial body? It is resurrection that ends probation although it does not end progression. But the kingdom is decided by the kind of resurrected body I get. Hence the importance of making right choices prior to the resurrection.

  23. I don’t think you are hardly heretical at all.

  24. The McConkie passage talks of a gate to a straight and narrow path, which I suppose is meant to be the same gate and path from Matthew 7:13-14 which Jesus said few find. What of the broad way to destruction which Jesus said many go in?

  25. “no forgiveness for sons of perdition in this world or the next”

    But if “this world”=earth life, and “the next”=the spirit world, then there is room for forgiveness after “the next.” Not saying this is necessarily the correct interpretation, but it is a possible one.

  26. The point is the the scriptures don’t specifically say that there is progression from one kingdom to another while they give the strong impression that there isn’t.

    Surely the Lord could make it very plain if the such was the case.

    JKC – you’ll have to revise the promise made to Abraham then as contained in D&C 132:30

    Those who argue that ‘eternal’ refers to intensity not duration are using the ordinary meaning of ‘eternal’ when they assert that ‘eternal progression’ includes moving from lower to higher kingdoms.

    The burden of proof is on those who are giving an scripturally unstated conclusion not those who are taking many scriptures at face value.

    Elder McConkie explained that texts like Matthew 7:13-14 applied to the temporal mortal probation but not to the eternal percentage of those saved. Of course, he was vocal in his denial of progression from lower kingdoms.

    I still haven’t read anything that would convince me that probation never ends.

    But it is a good desire to hope that many, if not all, will be saved. The reality is that Jesus said some would not be saved… (or so Joseph Smith reported).

  27. it's a series of tubes says:

    The point is the the scriptures don’t specifically say that there is progression from one kingdom to another while they give the strong impression that there isn’t.

    MJ, I think this is a good summary.

    But it is a good desire to hope that many, if not all, will be saved.

    All who are not SOPs will be saved. CK != being saved. Sorry if I have misinterpreted what you are saying.

  28. It’s not hard to me to split the difference and see how progression is certainly possible between kingdoms — as what God would deny blessings to those who are willing to act accordingly and receive them — but not plausible and therefore extremely rare. If we have many of the same attitudes and mindsets there as here, and if even the lower kingdoms are a paradise it would not be God keeping us from “moving up” but ourselves. Interestingly, that is exactly the same case of obedience to whatever principle of the gospel or church in this life. We hold ourselves back from giving our “all” and therefore forfeit the blessings that would come from having done so.

    I see no reason to believe why the next life wouldn’t be the same. There’s a world of difference between being humbled and recognizing our wrong-doings on one hand and completely changing our natures on the other. There are plenty of Good People™ in this world who aren’t interested in things of the celestial realm namely living a Consecrated Life.

  29. it's a series of tubes says:

    If progression between kingdoms is possible, it seems only fair that at least some of the “third part” who followed Lucifer would one day get the chance to have a body. Seems like the two are inextricably connected. Anyone advocating this position?

  30. Last Lemming says:

    I’ve heard it said that anything other than Celestial glory would be considered a “Hell”

    I think this was one of McConkie’s less helpful contributions to our understanding of the afterlife. Here’s another one:

    This unity among all the saints, and between them and the Father and the Son, is reserved for those who gain exaltation and inherit the fulness of the Father’s kingdom. Those who attain it will all know the same things; think the same thoughts; exercise the same powers; do the same acts; respond in the same way to the same circumstances…

    The universalism I am seeing espoused here buys into both of those notions. It imputes to everybody the same desires and destroys any sense of individuality. Have none of you seen those declarations by anti-Mormons that if the Celestial Kingdom is what we describe it to be (see the above quote),they want nothing to do with it? Do you think they are kidding? I don’t. Being something of a hermit myself, there are aspects of it that I find unappealing too. So I believe that I, and everybody else, will inherit a degree of glory that conforms to our own desires. And wherever that is or whatever you call it, we will find it glorious, not hellish.

  31. Nope you haven’t misinterpreted me.

    Section 76 teaches that the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms are degrees of salvation and that SOP (Sons of Perdition) are the only ones not saved. Of course, some scriptures used salvation as a equivalent for exaltation. But even D&C 132:17 shows that you can be saved without being exalted.

    I personally feel that there will be more of God’s children in the highest heaven than any of the lower heavens. But the lower heavens, degrees, kingdoms (or whatever) will not be empty.

    The section heading to D&C 76 is a preamble to D&C 131:1-4 because it talks about ‘heaven’ as the saints eternal home. There are degrees within degrees!

    That’s why Mormons should never say that people outside the church cannot be saved – they can and they will. It is those inside that are at risk of becoming SOP’s (that’s a bit worse than an SOB!)

    The terrestrial kingdom strikes me as the kind of heaven most christians are expecting because Christ will be there but the Father won’t be! Hence the more of mormonism.

  32. Being in the celestial glory would be hell if you were unrighteousness (Mormon 9:2-4). But what makes us think that those in the lower kingdoms will even know that they have missed out on their full potential!

    Interestingly, some people have to go through hell to get to heaven. We taste the bitter to know how the prize the sweet. I can picture those in the telestial kingdom being very grateful to be there.

    But the notion that a resurrected body that is telestial/terrestrial in nature can become celestial and thereby gain the power to procreate (and have ‘eternal increase’) just does not fit with the ‘doctrine of resurrection. One might as well suggest that re-incarnation is compatible with resurrection.

    There is a time limit to the test of faith and obedience. Otherwise the only advantage is that some get there sooner.

    God’s compassion, love and mercy doesn’t mean we have to believe in universal salvation (and eventual universal exaltation). Otherwise the scriptures wouldn’t say we were given ‘a time to repent’ but would teach that we have eternity to repent.

  33. 30 – Last Lemming, I think that quote may be being abused slightly to look at it from a worldly/neighborly perspective. I don’t want to be exactly like you and I don’t want you to be exactly like me. For the life of me, I’m having a hard time finding which of Christ’s attributes I wouldn’t want to be exactly like. I guess the beard and the shaggy hair? There, now we have our individuality :)

  34. @MJ: You bring up some excellent points. For my own sake, I’d like to try and address them. I doubt that all of my points will be convincing, but I figure that’s why the Church is neutral on this issue.

    JKC already put forward a good counter to D&C 76:32-39. As for needing to change D&C 132:30, one could point out that in 76 it says no forgiveness in this world or the next, while in 132 Abraham is told the blessings applied to his seed “in the world” and “out of the world” which is different from “this” and “next.” Out of the world seems to mean anything but this world.
    I’m not sure how they can’t receive a fulness of joy from D&C 93. That seems to me to indicate that we need resurrected bodies to have a fulness of joy. It also seems to indicate that the separation from our bodies is itself a form or torture/punishment, which makes sense of the order of resurrection proscribed in the millenium.
    I’ve heard it said before that D&C 76:112 means that by the time they progress to the point of the celestial glory that Christ and others will have already progressed further along (I think they often use a train analogy).

    How do you understand D&C 137 if you feel that celestial salvation of ‘second chancers’ is not taught there? It seems that it does in fact say that they’ll make it. You’re right that it conflicts with section 76, but I just assumed that the later revelation overrides the earlier one.

    I don’t see a problem the celestial/terrestrial/telestial bodies thing. Why would the spirit and body need to be separated to be quickened with greater glory (or demoted to a lower one)? Even in this life we have references to people’s bodies being “transfigured” or changed to a different level of glory without killing them (separating spirit from body).

    “The point is the the scriptures don’t specifically say that there is progression from one kingdom to another while they give the strong impression that there isn’t.” I would say that they also give an impression that there is progression. I would say that the Lord tells us why the impression is given that there isn’t in section 19.

    “Surely the Lord could make it very plain if the such was the case.” – Unless the impression that it’s now or never is used “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.” Section 19 states that we’re not to preach this, but we’re to preach repentance.

    “Those who argue that ‘eternal’ refers to intensity not duration are using the ordinary meaning of ‘eternal’ when they assert that ‘eternal progression’ includes moving from lower to higher kingdoms.” Yes and no. If we believe Joseph when he said that we were never created, but always have been and always will be, then eternal progression means Godly progression. I doesn’t seem to me that being stuck in a lower kingdom to infinity Godly progression.

    “The burden of proof is on those who are giving an scripturally unstated conclusion not those who are taking many scriptures at face value.” That’s fair, but I’d love to hear how you square the promise to faithful parents that their children will be with them in the celestial kingdom with your stance. Also why will we be doing temple work and proxy ordinances throughout the millenium if they’re unnecessary for the kingdoms which the spirits awaiting resurrection will be headed?

    “But the notion that a resurrected body that is telestial/terrestrial in nature can become celestial and thereby gain the power to procreate (and have ‘eternal increase’) just does not fit with the ‘doctrine of resurrection. One might as well suggest that re-incarnation is compatible with resurrection.” Some people do suggest a type of re-incarnation in mormon thought, but that’s beside the point. Again, I don’t see why glory can’t be added (or taken away) at a later point. Typically in mormondom (as far as I understand it), quickening means that you don’t die, but are instantly changed. D&C 88 seems to indicate that we are resurrected and get back our old, “natural” bodies, and that we’re quickened by whatever type of glory we’re ready to receive. Again, I’m not sure why we can’t be “quickened,” “twinkled,” “upgraded,” etc. again later if we are later ready to receive more glory.

    “There is a time limit to the test of faith and obedience. Otherwise the only advantage is that some get there sooner.” Yep. That is the advantage as I see it. I’ve always considered the parable of the laborers in the vineyard to be about this very issue. But again, I feel that faith and obedience born out of expectation of reward or fear of punishment are inferior to faith and obedience out of love of God and others. Look at the different words Christ used when addressing the disciples who wanted to ensure their personal salvation verses the 3 who wanted to help others: http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/28.3,7-8?lang=eng#2 It seems to me that this is the motivation we should strive to cultivate in ourselves an put behind us the more “Law of Moses” type approach of rewards and punishments.

    “God’s compassion, love and mercy doesn’t mean we have to believe in universal salvation (and eventual universal exaltation). Otherwise the scriptures wouldn’t say we were given ‘a time to repent’ but would teach that we have eternity to repent.” Unless they’re written that way “that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.”

    I suppose either way, whether you’re right or I am, it’s not going to change how I act. I won’t mind if I’m wrong. But what I described above just tastes good as a doctrine to me. Sorry for the epic comment.

  35. @#29: I entertain that idea. I think that is the vastly more heretical position than the nature of this post. I realize that this is likely wresting the scriptures, but Section 29 gives me hope that they will eventually get a chance. The God I believe in always has “his hand outstretched”, ready to receive any who desire to come unto God.

  36. it's a series of tubes says:

    Why is one more heretical than the other? Permanently denying bodies to the premortal “third part” establishes a line for them; it states “here you may go, but no further”. Similarly, lack of progression between kingdoms establishes a line for those in the telestial and terrestrial realms; again, “here you may go, but no further”.

    If you believe progression between kingdoms, but also accept the permanent unembodied state of the “third part”, then you’re really just drawing a different line as to who is in and who is out. Seems to me that if you want to pick up one end of the “no lines, just delays” stick, you pick up the other end by logical extension as well. Doesn’t the concept really boil down to: does the plan of salvation impose permanent limits on progression based on certain choices, or not?

  37. @#36: Good point. I suppose I should have said that it sounds vastly more heretical. Saying that Satan can be saved seems more heretical than saying that all people can be saved.

  38. How could you not accept what is said in Section 132 as permanent? I think it is plainly clear when it says “forever and ever”. This isn’t the only scripture that implies if we don’t do certain things, we will NOT go to the Celestial Kingdom. As for eternal marriage, obviously those who are righteous will be given that chance in the millenium or at some other point in the hereafter. This has NOTHING to do with progression from one kingdom to another because it would happen BEFORE the final judgement.

    In any case, I think this is a very interesting discussion. I have wrestled with both sides. I think it is very compassionate to hope that many, if not all, will be saved…but that just isn’t the case. As I said before, there were definitely varying degrees of devotion in the pre-earth life and there will be in this life and in the life to come. Not everyone will make it because they are not willing to do what is necessary and hardened their hearts. God already knows who will accept this Gospel and who will not because of his Omniscience.

  39. @Eric (#38) So you argue that

    “Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.”

    doesn’t mean that when we die without sealing that it’s ok because it will be done before the “final judgement?”

    Couldn’t it be that there is no one set moment for the “final judgement?” Don’t we believe that there are people who are already resurrected and have celestial glory? Couldn’t it be possible that people who receive bodies of telestial or terrestrial glory receive it and that kingdom prior to a “final” judgement? I realize there have been statements from church leaders (largely in the no-progression camp) that the “final” judgement precedes any ‘kingdoms’, but is there anything in the canon which states that? The word “final” doesn’t appear in the bible, it’s in the Book of Mormon 4 times, and once in the D&C. In the D&C it’s not referring to judgement, it’s talking about church administrative decisions. I think that the D&C reveals more about life hereafter than the “heaven/hell” view in the Book of Mormon.

  40. Well said, Geoff!!

  41. Wow, I should really proof-read my comments before posting. I have horrible grammar. I blame Russian for destroying my grammar.

  42. I think statements from church leaders, especially in General Conference, can be considered canon. So, yes…I do believe that. Even the Gospel Principles manual chapter heading refers to it as “The Final Judgment”. Does it happen at one time? No. There have been people who have been judged and resurrected. But there is an ending time for it and that is before EVERYONE is assigned to a kingdom. So, it is FINAL in the sense that it has en ending resulting in being assigned to a kingdom.

    I do believe that everyone will have an equal opportunity, in this life or the next, to be able to accept and live a Celestial law. I hope I am not coming across as being too “black and white”. I think we all know that God is FAR more merciful than we can even imagine and our brains tend to create lines that may not even exist.

    I think I am going to put this in a box in my brain for now and shelf it until we find out.

  43. I guess I’m less inclined to take the what a committee comes up with for a manual as being on equal footing with our scriptures. I certainly give great value to statements from church leaders in general conference, but given that many doctrines have been taught at general conference which the church currently rejects, I’m hesitant to take them instantly as canon.

    You’re right that God is more merciful than we imagine. Like I said before, I could be wrong, and that’s fine; it won’t change how I’m living my life. What we do know is that in this life we are to love and serve others. I can have hope and faith that everything will be great regardless of what kingdom, or who/what I’ll be when I’m there (God, god, king, priest, failure ;) the most important thing is to love here and now.

  44. Agreed! I always hated when I was on my mission and missionaries would be so critically judgmental of someone who told us to get lost. They would be convinced that they had rejected the gospel and would never make it to the Celestial Kingdom. I’m sure many of you have had this experience and it would always bug me to no end because it severely limits the power of the Atonement.

  45. StillConfused says:

    The whole Mormon concept of heaven used to really bug me. So many yucky people who are supposedly eligible for the CK and so many great people who aren’t, etc. Personally, I don’t believe in that kind of heaven… I am more of a positive energy, negative energy kind of gal so I don’t really believe in humanoid existence after this life. Trying to fit what feels right to me into the Mormon definitions just won’t work.

  46. @45: I put most of my faith and hope in the hereafter in what Jesus said.

  47. “So many yucky people who are supposedly eligible for the CK and so many great people who aren’t, etc.”

    How is that the Mormon concept of heaven?

  48. Pardon…but I really would like to know what you think regarding my question in 19.
    It may be that we just have to take it on faith that since God has always known who will ultimately be in each kingdom that if there were someone that He knows would repent and change under a given set of circumstances that those circumstances will come to pass for that person at some point before the Final Judgement, which if I’m not mistaken comes after the Millennium.

  49. StillConfused (45), which yucky people are eligible for the Celestial Kingdom? Specifically, which yucky people are eligible who have more chance of getting there than the great people who are for whatever reason ineligible?

    Personally, I want to be a humanoid in the next life. But that’s neither here nor there.

  50. Steve Evans says:

    RJ I’m really gunning for ophidian in the next life.

  51. @48: I don’t know that we have any quotes indicating what will be different in missionary work in the spirit-world that would make people accept.

  52. #51 – Perhaps there are no quotes, but off the top of my head:

    1) No disabilities that limit one’s ability to understand and/or feel in some way;

    2) No screwed up presentation by unprepared missionaries;

    3) No counter-productive pressure from family and friends;

    4) No bad examples of the believers;

    5) No historical baggage that clouds many issues;

    6) No over-bearing and/or judgmental congregants or completely uninspired meetings the only time someone attends church;

    5) ad infinitum.

    There are way too many reasons why someone would not “accept” in mortality but accept afterward to try to continue – and that includes many people who were born and raised in the Church and become inactive or leave entirely, imo. There’s a reason we aren’t judges of eternal outcome.

  53. @#52: Sure, those are possibilities. But if we assume that our personalities are the same there as they are here, and we assume that people are capable of repentance in the spirit world, why not capable of sin? If we allow for people to improve in the spirit world, doesn’t it then mean that people can make a turn for the worse? Do we know if the veil will still be there? If there’s no veil and everyone remembers their decision to go to earth in the first place, then why the need for spirit missionaries? If people can sin, could there then be unprepared missionaries? counter-productive pressure from family? bad examples of believers? I’m not advocating that any of these are the case, but I don’t think we know enough about it to say that those reasons you listed will actually be valid.

  54. geoffsn,
    We don’t know if the veil will still be there. I’m not sure that matters in the case of sin. That said, I think that Elder McConkie’s quote in the OP indicates that the circumstances could be very different. I tend to think that the veil is removed. I’ve no proof, of course.

  55. John M.,
    I tend to read the narrow gate and broad way metaphors as referring to temporal situations. I don’t think that God has set this up to exclude most people. But you are right to note that I could be completely wrong. God could have set the whole thing up so that people who live a certain percentage of their life righteously or who do a certain number of good deeds will make it. He could have a standard for judgment that is truly just, which will keep the cream and deny the rest. I just don’t have any idea what it would be.

  56. Thanks everyone. I’ve read somewhere that Satan isn’t allowed in the spirit world, so that’s a plus. If anyone’s veil is lifted it would be members of the Church, not nonmembers because they would still be required to walk by faith not sight. Ray, people will still hear their families and friends opinions which might help if some of them had joined the Church there instead of here. It will be obvious that a hereafter does exist so that fact might prompt people to ask what the purpose is for their life continuing. I think there will still be historical baggage because people there remember everything from their life here–and that’s the problem. If they’ve been misguided about the Church here, the same will be there. But there must be a way for them to hear the truth because they don’t know they are misinformed. We know not everyone will accept it. But everyone has to hear it and know what they are accepting or rejecting. Here they don’t have a clue amid all the anti-Mormon propaganda.

  57. The good thing about this discussion is that it is civilised.

    @ geoffsn

    It is a pretty strained reading of D&C 76:34 to suggest that it only applies to this life and the spirit world. It reads: “Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come”. Surely the world to come is not merely the spirit world but the entire afterlife? I can’t see from the context why it would only refer to the spirit world (pre-resurrection). The promise to Abraham (as noted in D&C 132:30) applies after the resurrection [“both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars” – obviously a reference to the eternal ‘increase’ of his ‘seed’] and the natural reading of D&C 76:34 has a similar parallel. So, in my view, the dichotomy of ‘this world/ the world to come’ in section 76 parallels the dichotomy of ‘in the world/ out of the world’ in section 132. Both apply after the resurrection. At least, that is the natural reading.

    My point about the SOP was that even if we suppose that their torment ends we shouldn’t assume that they receive a fulness of joy. It would be a serious misreading to suppose that D&C 93:33-34 teach that all resurrected being receive a fulness of joy. We have been taught that Cain will rule over Lucifer because he will have a resurrected body but that implies that neither will receive forgiveness after the resurrection (of Cain). It certainly doesn’t imply that Cain will have a fulness of joy while Satan remains ‘miserable’. Nope, they are still ‘Perdition’. One of the problems with the concept of eternal progression/regression is that it suggests that Satan could one day become exalted while Christ could one become apostate. The fixity (or finality) of the resurrected body is one of the ways of explaining why Christ won’t slip back into a terrestrial state. Similarly, Cain won’t move up to one. The doctrine of ‘final judgement’ comes in here.

    It is correct that separation of spirit and body is a form of suffering (and that is why Satan and the ‘third part’ suffer so endlessly). The entire spirit world is a prison. Speaking of the faithful spirits, D&C 138:50 states: “For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage.” So there is joy in getting a resurrected body – but we should assume that there are degrees of joy just as there are degrees of glory. (Call in a spectrum if you want but it is one with clear lines of demarcation).

    I’ll grant what you say about transfiguration not requiring the separation of body and spirit but merely an upgrade of the body I already have. However, the suggestion of a possible later (post-resurrection) quickening, upgrading or twinkling after the initial resurrection that moves us from one glory to another is just not taught in the scriptures. You’re talking about, for example, someone without the power of procreation (for a certain period of resurrected ‘time’) suddenly gaining that power – that sounds like more than a transfiguration but actually a new resurrection to me. The terrestrial body has now become a celestial body because the spirit has become a celestial spirit – so that they have a different kind of body than before. So although your position has some plausibility it is not plainly taught in the scriptures (or by the prophets) and it contradicts other scriptures which assert that some resurrection limitations are forever and ever (again D&C 76:34 & D&C 132:17).

    As for a second chance at the celestial kingdom after the end of probation that is not taught in D&C 137:7-9. Therein we read,

    Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God ; Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

    The point is that those who are deemed worthy would have received it during a mortal probation if they had a good chance (and a knock on the door by two missionaries is not that) to do so. In the spirit world is the first time they get their chance. Those who reject it during mortality and later receive (in the spirit world) it go to the terrestrial kingdom. Again they took the gospel after its ‘best before date’ and so the limitation placed on them is eternal but based on God’s infallible judgement of what the ‘would have received’. Does the sealing of parents to children really guarantee their eventual celestialisation? Do we really believe that all who are baptised (including those we do the work for in temples or during the Millennium) will go to the celestial kingdom? What – will none be lost? That rings a bell.

    D&C 19 is bearing a lot of weight in this discussion but all it teaches is that the word ‘eternal’ has diverse (sometimes mutually exclusive) meanings. Some take ‘eternal life’ to mean immortal life but we try to teach them otherwise. Some take endless/everlasting punishment to mean forever punishment but we try to teach them otherwise too. But the notion of progression from kingdom to kingdom is missing from this revelation. It is ironic that those who argue that endless punishment comes to an end are so quick to suggest that ‘eternal progression’ (a phrase not found in the scriptures) means we can progress forever. Why can’t it refer to the type of progression – i.e., we can progress as God does? How does God progress and will such be open to those who inherit lower kingdoms? Not according to D&C 132.

    As for whether it is easier to accept the gospel in the spirit world D&C 138:34 tells us that the demands of faith and obedience do not differ from those we know. What we need to remember is that many have been kept from the truth and will only find it in the spirit world. They would have accepted it here if they had a fair chance to do so (in God’s view). Finally, the parable of the labourers in the vineyard does not show that all will eventually accept the fullness of the gospel and receive the fulness of blessings… it merely shows that the gospel, once accepted, has the power to makes us all equal with God and receive the same reward as each other.

    I think the doctrine of ‘eternal progression’ as construed by some does encourage eternal procrastination contra the intent of Alma 34.

  58. @MJ: You bring up excellent points. For many of them I don’t really have anything to add. You’ve certainly caused me to reevaluate this. I’ll just address a couple things:

    I don’t think it’s a strained reading to think this world and the next means now and the spirit world, but that’s fine. You make some good points.

    As for the sealing of parents to children, where the parents’ faithfulness allows their children to be with them, this seems to be a current teaching of the church. It was quoted in general conference in 92, 99, 03, 04, 06, and 09. “Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path…”

    If we say that we receive light and knowledge line upon line, we can assume that new information would trump previous revelations. Joseph teaching that the spirit was the means by which the Father and Son communicated in the Lectures on Faith was superseded by section 130 indicating that the Holy Ghost was a personage of spirit. The heaven/hell portrayal of the after-life in the Book of Mormon was superseded by section 76. The final revelations of Joseph were pushing doctrines that we don’t have in the canon (King Follett, Sermon at the Grove, etc.) including that our spirits are coeternal with God, that he didn’t create the spirit of man, etc. If we assume those are legitimate doctrines then a few things seem to follow (at least to me, my logic could be faulty). If we’ve always existed, and we’re told that we are already in the act of progressing (kept the 1st estate, here we are now) it’s doesn’t make sense that our short mortality would affect us in ways that would cause damnation of any form in our never-beginning never-ending existence. Damnation for many generations of time and many worlds, sure. But forever? It doesn’t seem to fit. You indicated that allowing Lucifer to eventually return from his fall and Christ to at some point be capable of falling were unimaginable. Is it a problem provided that they’re static for the duration of the time that we need their opposition? Why if we’ve always existed are we only now in the process of being able to move up or down, or (more plausible to me) have we always been capable of progression/regression? Why after this short process would we be stuck, incapable of moving up or down? Why would one infinitesimal blip on our never-beginning and never-ending existence render some change in our very never-beginning and never-ending natures that could never be undone? Unfortunately I’m incapable of expressing myself right now so this entire point may be ill-stated and moot.

    Also, if during the millenium in our resurrected celestial or terrestrial bodies we’re doing proxy work for the dead in temples, and if we assume that as resurrected bodies we can interact with people in the spirit world (many assumptions here) why do proxy work if we can verify whether or not it will be accepted?

    And for clarification, I haven’t stated or claimed (at least not intentionally) that no one will be lost or that everyone will be saved. No one will be forced and there will be some (supposedly very very few) who choose to reject it.

    You say the parable of the laborers in the vineyard is just about receiving the gospel. I say the parable of the talents is just about getting more love back when you give love to others. But, I imagine that neither of us will be surprised if the other parable is actually about glories attained after the millenium. As I said before, regardless, it’s really all about loving and serving others here and now that counts.

    Thanks for you points. I like having people demolish my opinions; it allows me to make new ones that are more smash-proof.

  59. @geoffsn

    Ditto for your points. I appreciate the stretching in my thinking.

    If we get clear revelation telling us that eternal progression from kingdom to kingdom to kingdom exists then I will be happy to believe it.

    I recognise the comfort in the idea … but, strictly speaking, it is speculative rather than scriptural.

    I recognise that revelation is progressive and later revelations superceed earlier ones. The BoM phrase, ‘he who is filthy shalle be filthy still’ could be used to assert the unchangeability of SOP (to whom it refers – as all others are cleansed from sin) but I’m not sure that we should accept it at face value. So I agree that scripture can be read on different levels and that a literalistic reading is not always the correct one. Of course, D&C 138, 132 and 76 come after section 19.

    I admit to being puzzled how God can be so sure that a mere mortal (or temporary post-mortal) probation could be sufficient to judge what will be our eternal destiny but I suspect that wherever we go will be were we would go even if we were given all eternity (or much longer than we get) to decide. That’s how I understand D&C 137 – we get want we get because we kept our second estate (even if that keeping is in the spirit world between our death and resurrection). I accept the concept of a temporary probation and a final judgement and don’t really believe the concept of re-resurrections (the upgrades you speculate on).

    As for Joseph’s teaching on the salvation of wayward children I’m not convinced that this negates the need for repentance prior to the resurrection in order to go to the celestial kingdom. The final destination of these wayward children is not made plain in the statement attributed to Joseph – so it is conceivably that they could be saved in the terrestrial or lower parts of the celestial kingdom. There is room for variety.

    I think if we accept the notion that I can move up kingdoms then we have to accept that it is at least logically possible to move down them (although we can’t return to a pre-mortal state or make it so that we will never have a body in eternity – so there could likewise be practical limits). But that puts all exalted beings at risk. Maybe we should pray for God rather than to God?

    But in the absence of clear scriptural statements to the contrary I think I’ll favour the natural (to me) reading of the scriptures rather than turn God’s plan into something like satan’s (ie, universal salvation) but over a longer time (due to his respect for agency.

    Finally, it is the province of prophets, seers and revelators to annouce on doctrines that are controversial and if the church is neutral then that allows for differences (although I can’t think of many prophets that have taught progression from lower kingdoms) so I can respect your view.

    But I’m convince that for you and me (as LDS) now is the time and our probation (not our perfection or progression) will end at death. Even though your position gives me a better chance at celestial glory I believe now is the time and day.

    It’s been good to talk and to think.

  60. I just had a wee look at the footnotes for D&C 76:34. The note for ‘no’ forgiveness links to D&C 42:18, 84:41 and 132:27. The language in the last is interesting because it says “which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world” which joins with my reading of 132:30 and mirrors that of in this world or the world to come.

    Sons of Perdition are stuck. That, at least, resolves one issue. I think this makes it plain that D&C 76:112 about those in the telestial being outside the presence of God and Christ for ‘worlds without end’ also means after the resurrection or in any world to come! That again resolves the issue for those in the telestial kingdom.

    It is the terrestrial kingdom that is the only possibility then. But the difference between D&C 137:7-8 and D&C 76:73-77 seems to rule out at least ‘second chancers’ making it into the celestial kingdom. As for others, that’s an open question (although not in my mind).

    But at least we are talking about those who have been relatively good during probation.

    Anyway, further food for thought (and pondering and prayer!).

  61. John C, did you borrow the “Everyone lives! Everyone lives!” phrase in the OP title from Steven Moffat and Christopher Eccleston?

  62. MJ, I personally do not believe in a movement through kingdoms. As I’ve said in previous comments, I really like the concept of multiple kingdoms compared to the binary heaven and hell split. I just think the final judgment happens much, much, much later for many people than we tend to think – and that the Celestial Kingdom will include FAR more people than most members believe. I have no idea, really, when “the spirit world” ends – but I have no problem with it ending whenever every single child of God has had a true chance to understand the Atonement fully – and then, understanding fully, accept or reject it.

    Anything else just doesn’t work for me – and, with a foundation that, I believe, is very orthodox Mormon (everyone will get a true and full chance to understand and decide), I just think those who chose to accept once, by and large, will choose to accept again.

  63. Zefram,
    Yes.

    Ray,
    That is essentially what I am trying to say.

  64. And the continual Dr. Who references are exactly why I keep coming back to this neck o’ the woods.

  65. I also believe that the vast majority of God’s children will make it into the Celestial Kingdom. That view was held by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and I was heard his son elaborate one it. The estimated that well over 90% (who enter into the second estate) of God’s children would be exaltated.

    But the other (lower) kingdoms will not be empty and obviously neither will outer darkness.

    The understanding I have is that the final judgement comes only after resurrection (which is one reason preparation for resurrection is so important). The times of resurrection have been partially clarified by revelation.

    So I see the atonement as a process, the degrees as fixed, the resurrection as final, repentance as the main reason we came to earth, probation as temporary and spirit world missionary work as extensive. Plenty of mercy in each of those views.

    One can be orthodox and still optimistic. Covenants are crucial is all of this and we need to willing and worthy to accept those covenants prior to our personal resurrection. Some of the actuall covenants (for example, in the case of children who die) will be entered into after the resurrection but the preparation/worthiness will be evidenced before then. The resurrection is the final judgement.

    Hence, repentance, resurrection and revelation are the 3 r’s of real religion.

  66. Just to clarify:

    ‘exaltated’ is not a new previously unrevealed degree. Should read:

    That view was held by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and I once heard his son elaborate on it. They estimated that well over 90% of God’s children (who enter into the second estate) would be exalted.

    That is great doctrine, in my estimation.

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