Eternal Progression and Retrogression

January 18, 2006 | 170 comments
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If there is progression, there may also be retrogression; if there is good, there may be evil. Everything has its opposite. (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, Chapter 15)

One of the major themes I have explored at the Thang over the last year or so is eternal progression. At last count there were more than 20 posts related to this topic. Before I go into the details I should recap some of my theological assumptions that I have already revealed in other posts here. One is that I think we and God are time-bound and always have been and always will be (we discussed that in the foreknowledge thread). Another assumption I have is that our Intelligences are the same thing as our spirits and that they change over time (as opposed to them being simple and irreducible in their current state). I don’t want to get too technical so I will simply say that I am partial to a variation on Orson Pratt’s atomism (if that means nothing to you don’t worry about it – this post should still be interesting to you anyway.)

Perhaps the best single post to point to as an overview on the subject was called Models of Our Pre-Mortal Existence. I’ll quote the two main models from that post:

The Basics (aka the “My Turn on Earth� model) – This one goes something like this: We (all humankind) were all living in heaven (whatever that means) with our literal spirit parents. (Some take that to mean that we were all born as spiritual babies to spirit mothers, but most never think about it). We were all like little children and we wanted to grow up to be like our Heavenly Parents. So we all got together in a grand family council and our Father proposed a plan to build an earth and send us all down so we could be tested. The idea was to veil our minds so we could show our true colors without remembering our Celestial home. The goal was to get back to that home, but more mature and like our Father. In order to overcome the problems inherent in mortality, though, we needed help. We needed a savior. Two volunteers stepped forward – our parents’ first-born spirit son (Jesus) and another brother of some rank (Lucifer). Lucifer proposed a plan that would compel all to obey and return to heaven and Jesus suggested following the Father’s plan which gave us free agency. A vote was taken and two thirds sided with Jesus and the Father while one third sided with Lucifer. As a result that one third was cast out of heaven and Lucifer became the Devil, Satan, with the one third his angels. So the earth was created and we are all taking our turn on earth to see how we’ll do.

The many-earths model (also known as multiple mortal probations or MMPs for short) – This one is nicely described in an opinion put forth by Heber C. Kimball:

“We have come here to become inured to work-to build temples, and improve upon the elements that God has placed around us, that we may become more skillful tomorrow, through the experience of to-day. What I do not to-day, when the sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time to-day, I wake up to-morrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day.” (Journal of Discourses 4:329)

The basic idea if I understand this model correctly is that the worlds without end described in Moses that have already passed were inhabited by us and we either progressed or regressed in those.

Well you may not be surprised to learn that of the two I sort of think that the Heber C. Kimball model (MMP) works best. The world and universe just makes a lot more sense to me through that lens. So here are the several posts I put up touching on that subject in one way or another.

Other topics discussed include Who inhabited all those other worlds?; Where will all of those resurrected Telestial people live – planet of the Telestials?; Progression between kingdoms; and Are we still in the middle of the council in heaven?

Of yeah, it’s a veritable treasure trove of wild speculation folks. Check ‘em out if you’d like.

And now I’ve opened the speculation can of worms here… Do you spend time thinking about the details of our pre-mortal and post-mortal lives too?

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170 Responses to Eternal Progression and Retrogression

  1. Brad Haas on January 18, 2006 at 3:49 am

    I spend some time thinking about these things. I have a question: if God is a temporal being, and has pre-mortal children in succession (first Jesus, then someone else, at some point Lucifer, etc.), does it not follow that at any one point, the Father has a finite number of children? Just after the pre-mortal “birth” of Jesus, the Father had one child: Jesus. At a later point, He had more, and at a later point, more.

    If that’s so, then do not all families have a finite number of children (mind-bogglingly enormous and ever-growing though it may be)? And if that’s so, is there not one set of parents, or *something*, who must have started it all? And here begins the First Cause stuff…

    Thoughts?

  2. Eric on January 18, 2006 at 8:51 am

    Brad:

    Widtsoe appears to agree with you, in the Rational Theology book there is a chapter that includes how God came to be God that seems to suggest that it all started somewhere, sometime….

    Geoff:

    I have a hard time seeing the HCK model (which I think may be an exaggeration on your part) is not much more than a version of reincarnation. How is this reconciled with statements against reincarnation (sorry for no references but I imagine you are familiar with them)?

    I just don’t see that much of a need for this. It seems that for many (small children who die before accountability) coming to earth is just a technicality. Take a body and move on to Celestial glory. In many ways I feel that our probation here (even if a single one) is more than Christ will need for a perfect judgement. This probation is probably more for ourselves than for His benefit. Are we not told that we will be able to progress in the spirit world? Can we not also progress (within limits perhaps) after the resurrection? If these thigs are so, then why would a MMP model be any more compelling?

    I feel that the MMP model limits the idea of Christ as a perfect judge, and provides a false sense of security – eat drink and be merry for tomorrow is another day.

  3. Russell Arben Fox on January 18, 2006 at 9:46 am

    “Do you spend time thinking about the details of our pre-mortal and post-mortal lives too?”

    I’m afraid I have to say no. Not anymore, anyway.

  4. Rusty on January 18, 2006 at 10:09 am

    The truth is that I don’t really think too much about this stuff. It’s fun to speculate though. If I were to choose one model I’d have to side with Geoff and MMP because it helps me make better decisions. If I look at my decisions as something that make me into a certain kind of being that is either progressing or regressing then I’m more likely to make better decisions. Looking at my decisions as something that will “be rewarded” or “be forgiven” doesn’t help me as much.

    Eric said: Take a body and move on to Celestial glory

    This doesn’t make sense unless there is an MMP component to eternity.

  5. C Jones on January 18, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Geoff-
    Have you come to any conclusions about what MMP implies for our temple sealings and family relationships?

  6. A Nonny Mouse on January 18, 2006 at 11:45 am

    One is that I think we and God are time-bound and always have been and always will be (we discussed that in the foreknowledge thread).
    So, I missed the discussion in the foreknowledge thread, but I tried searching for this verse in that thread and didn’t find it…

    Alma 40:8: “…All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.”

    This verse to me seems to be a pretty clear indicator that Alma and the rest of the Book of Mormon prophets believed that God was placed outside of our typical earthly temporal experience. The “One day on Kolob is a 1000 years on earth” stuff from Abraham also suggests that the model espoused by the scriptures shows that God’s relationship to time is markedly different than ours. So… my question here for Geoff et al. is this: Does being unbound from Time change the possibilities of the models? Does it change the theological ramifications of “foreknowledge” etc?

  7. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 11:52 am

    Brad – Those are all good questions I think. In one my posts I explored who inhabited the other planets spoken of in scriptures. The implications of the My Turn on Earth model are that each planet has a separate batch of billions of God’s children. I don’t know about you, but the idea that all of us here are just one batch of innumerable batches of children does not sit well with me. I especially don’t like the idea that after this short probation most of us (all but the exalted) will be eternally consigned somewhere to… ummm… wait for all eternity with no more chance for progress. Sounds very unlike what the Father in Heaven I know of would do…

    Eric – I think the technical difference between reincarnation and this MMP idea is that we do only live once here… what happened before this planet and after are a separate question I think. I agree with Rusty though, though examples you gave (like little children who die) seem to be evidence for MMP rather than against it. This is particularly true if Godhood is about becoming — everyone needs the trial and probations in order to become better.

    Russell – Yep, spending time thinking about these things is not for everyone.

    Rusty – Interesting point Rusty. Sometimes people knock this view because they say it leads to procrastination of repentance. It certainly works the opposite for me though (as for you). It focuses me on becoming better. It reminds me that the entire purpose of this life is the “make bad men good and good men better”. It keeps me focused on incremental daily repentance and drawing into an ever-closer relationship with God.

    C Jones – Thank you for reminding me of that task! (I had forgotten I was going to do that). I will have to really flesh it out at the Thang, but I am formulating some ideas on that. They have to do with the strict requirements of our covenants in the temple for one. I think very few of us actually will manage to keep all of the promises we make there (consecration is what I’m thinking of). If we do not live up to every portion of our part of the covenants here, I suspect God cannot give most of us every portion of the promised blessings for doing so. If that is the case and we do not completely keep all of our covenants, then maybe the family connections we have here play themselves out to one degree or another in the eternities (and probations) to come? At some point we will have to progress to the level where we really can live the law of consecration (even if no one else does). But as I said… my thoughts on this are not at all settled so perhaps we can meander around and ponder on it in future posts…

  8. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 11:57 am

    A Nonny Mouse,

    Yes, the timeless thing creates a completely separate model of reality. However, it is very hard to defend in Mormonism because of our insistence on a God with a physical body and on our belief in eternal progress — both of which require time. Check out my recent foreknowledge post for some links and discussion on time vs. timelessness.

  9. Eric on January 18, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    I thought this life was tough, but turn bad men into goo? What is the scriptural basis of this? Nowhere do I see evidence of bad men turning into goo.

  10. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Hehe… Now I’ll fix that typo and you’ll look like a nut Eric… (Behold my adminstrative power and tremble!)

  11. Eric on January 18, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    That was a typo???

  12. Eric on January 18, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    I thought that was some form of retrogression – turning into goo.

  13. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    What typo?

  14. Kevin Barney on January 18, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    I find it interesting that fundamentalists are big on the MMP idea, and in general mainstream Mormons are not; I wonder why that is?

    There is an interesting quirk in the My Turn on Earth view of things. I grew up being taught that we came to this earth to gain a body, that that was an essential element of our preparation and development to become gods ourselves one day. But in the James Talmage authored 1916 push-back against Adam-God, Jehovah became not God the Father (as generally conceived in 19th century LDS discourse) but God the Son. So the God of the OT was now considered to be unembodied, as he would not enter mortality until the meridian of time.

    Well, if Jehovah can become a god without a body (and without a marriage entered into in mortality, for that matter), why can’t we?

    (LDS missionaries also lost a number of OT prooftexts for an embodied God, for now those texts are read as referring to the then unembodied Jehovah.)

  15. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Jehovah was still embodied, just not physically so.

  16. J. Stapley on January 18, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    MMP’s are very problematic. Not least of the problems is the basic misogyny of it. In Geoff’s model, there is no recompense for injustice of mortality toward women as Talmage states it. Women simply get the shaft from eternity to eternity. This is also very problematic for proxy work. If the only relationships that mater are those who literally fulfill their covenants, why do the work for anybody else?

    What about the babies that are saved in celestial glory? That doctrine is incoherent in your model.

    Other doctrines ruled incoherent by Geoff’s hypothesis: Three degrees, The Fullness of the Priesthood, Resurection (inseperably connected), etc.

  17. A Nonny Mouse on January 18, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    Geoff — how do you deal with the Alma scripture if God is time-bound? That’s what I’m having a hard time figuring out.

  18. Ivan Wolfe on January 18, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    J, Stapley -

    perhaps you could explain yourself more clearly? Perhaps I’m not as enlightened as you, but I don’t see the misogyny in Geoff’s model, since I don’t see Geoff differentiating between men and women in any significant degree.

    I don’t agree with MMP, but your reading seems strained, almost as if you think the gospel itself is misogynistic.

  19. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Kevin,

    That is a very good question. MMP apparently had been a hush-hush idea for a lot of active members — so much so that it has almost disappeared from mainstream thought. But the leaders of the church were pretty open about it in the 19th century so I see no reason why we can’t at least consider it and discuss its merits.

    I think the fundies (DKL taught me that word) jumped on it because it is an interesting and possibly accurate description of the eternities and if we weren’t going to use it they could to try to attract converts. The fact that some of them harp on it makes it seem all the more taboo to us mainstream members not I think. But it used to be mainstream and was believed and taught by former apostles (and never faced the opposition doctrines like AG did either from what I can tell).

    I agree that this idea that somehow Jesus became a full fledged God prior to a mortality flies in the face of most of our assumptions about needing a body to become a God, etc. Some try to get around this by trying to ignoring the “As man now is God once was” teaching. I think that is the wrong way to go about it. It seems to me that this once-popular MMP model reconciles most all of these problems.

  20. Costanza on January 18, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    For an interesting article on this topic, see “Of Gods, Mortals, And Devils: Eternal Progression and the Second Death in the theology of Brigham Young”
    by Boyd Kirkland
    Sunstone 10:12/6 (Oct 86)

  21. Clark on January 18, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Nonny, the issue can be seen in two ways. One the assumption of a Platonic “eternalism” ala most of Christianity. However Mormons seem to require God and even spirits be essentially embodied. (Spirits in most Christianity are immaterial in all senses of the word – i.e. they are closer to a platonic form than a being as we think of it) Thus God has to experience time, although not necessarily our time.

    There are two ways people typically interpret the Alma scripture and similar ones. The first is to take it more metaphorically. i.e. God has a bigger perspective. That is, just as a little child may be so focused on the “now” that they ignore the future and planning for it we are limited in our perception of time with respect to God. The idea is that the time discussed isn’t time proper but more our focus on short term events.

    The second is to suggest that there are multiple universes. Within each universe there is time, but this time is unrelated to the flow of time in other universes. This entails, however, a block universe which then has implications to whether there is free will of the sort Geoff wants to embrace.

    I favor the multiple universe view as I think it ends up being required if we wish to reconcile science and Mormon theology – primarily due to the nature of the big bang. It also has the nice feature of explaining passages like this rather well without embracing a near Platonism which I think has unwanted theological implications.

  22. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 1:14 pm

    J,

    Ivan asks the same question I was about to… What on earth are you talking about Stapley? Misogyny?

    The three degrees don’t become incoherent — they simple become symbolic of the continuum of intelligences and glory spoken of in Abraham 3. (See this post specifically on that). Permanent resurrection takes a hit, but that gets us around the problem of some bizarre penal planet of the Telestials where all the awful people go to live as immortals for all eternity (see this post). Your personal ideas on The Fullness of the Priesthood are shot — but I think you are wrong on that anyway so that doesn’t bug me much. The baby thing has been discussed already — it is no more or less of a problem to understand with MMP than it is without.

  23. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    Also, is there some reason to think that Christ’s being Jehovah means it was somehow unnecessary to his own divinity for him to become mortal? I just don’t understand what the objection is here.

  24. Kevin Barney on January 18, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Adam, the objection is that, according to the Mormon teaching of my youth, it was essential to come to this earth in order to obtain a body, for the express purpose of becoming gods. The notion was that only the physically embodied could become gods. The problem is that, supposedly, the preexistent (and thus pre-physically embodied) Jesus was the God of the OT. So the premise that only those who have obtained a physical body may become gods is falsified.

    The notion that Jesus became God pursuant to a condition subsequent (that he eventually enter mortality and obtain a body, but he didn’t have to have a body as God) is inconsistent with the way the need for a body was portrayed to me by my Primary and Sunday School teachers when I was a child.

    So which is it? Does one need to obtain a body as a condition precedent to becoming God? Or was Jesus not God prior to his mortality?

  25. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Adam,

    The standard sound bite that I have always heard is that we had reached a point where we could no longer progress to become like God without having a physical body so this earth became necessary. Of course the problem with that logic is that somehow Jesus did progress to become a full-fledged God prior to receiving a body here. Some then say he was “older” so he had more time but that elicits other questions like Why not wait longer to start this earth then? It also rejects the commonly held idea that our spirits/Intelligences in current form are beginningless (an idea I reject anyway, incidentally…).

    So with all that — how do you think Jesus managed to become a full-fledged God prior to this world if no one else did? What assumptions do you use that make it all make sense to you?

  26. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Oops, Kevin beat me to it…

  27. Jesse on January 18, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    #14

    Doesn’t D&C 110 (1836) clearly state that Jesus and Jehovah are the same person?

  28. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Sorry, I still don’t see what the problem is.

    I have every reason to believe that no one is complete without having a physical body. Agreed.

    But is there any reason to suppose that Christ could not have exercised or been delegated the divine powers Jehovah appears to possess in the OT, unless he had a physical body?

    And as to whether he was worthy of worship, Christ was the ‘lamb slain from the beginning of the world.’ Of course he was. Or, at least its plausible to so argue.

  29. J. Stapley on January 18, 2006 at 3:27 pm

    A couple of things. First, the Fullness of the Priesthood isn’t speculation, it is the doctrine of God given to Joseph. If you throw it away, you might as well pitch Joseph all together. We are promised to become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses. This is the promise of exaltation. As Talmage states:

    It is not given to woman to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the House of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood. When the frailities and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and co-operating to the full in the government of their family kingdom. Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. (Young Woman’s Journal vol. 25 pg. 602-3)

    So to be frank, mortality is mysoganistic. Eternity is not. There are no Queens in Geoff’s model only Kings. There are no Priestesses, only Priests.

    According to Geoff, you go through this mortality long enough and you become worthy to atone for a planet somewhere and thus become God the Father. The weird thing is that there is a chasmal disparity between Jesus and the next best thing. Simply put, there is no gradation. There are mortals, which are uniformally pathetic and there is God. I stand with Blake on this one – God has always been God. Just like Christ has been God forever yet was a man.

    Where is woman in Geoff’s model? For eternity, she is relegated to depravity of mortality. Women are simply not part of God’s plan for exaltation.

  30. Gilgamesh on January 18, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    “will be eternally consigned somewhere to… ummm… wait for all eternity with no more chance for progress. Sounds very unlike what the Father in Heaven I know of would do…”

    I disagree – one can have only 1 mortal probation and still be allowed to progress trhough the eternities, between kingdoms. At least Talmage saw it that way in the first edition of the Articles of Faith. Multiple planets seems too far fetched for me. Kimball could have easily been referring to progression after resurrection, between kingdoms.

  31. C Jones on January 18, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    #28 Amen.

    There’s just so much about MMP that makes me squirm.

    I would almost prefer the “goo” solution :)

  32. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Ummm J, I don’t know where you get that idea but it ain’t my take on things. It’s not “Geoff’s model” it’s J Stapley’s fanciful and completely incorrect version of Geoff’s model.

    First, I’m not sure who said the Fullness of the Priesthood was speculation — it wasn’t me. I did say that I think your take on it and its implications are wrong though. You insist that there is an unbridgable gap or chasm between humankind and God — that there is an ontological divide. I just think that is false. Insisting that being a priest and king on some planet will be just as good as becoming like our heavenly parents just does not excite me. And I think it is contrary to what all the modern prophets taught from Joseph on down.

    “Mortaility is misogynistic”? Wow. That is some kinda Kool-Aid you’ve been drinkin’! I admit that this life can be hard and often especially hard for females, but don’t you think that is a bit over the top?

    How do you defend this silly statement: “There are no Queens in Geoff’s model only Kings. There are no Priestesses, only Priests.”? That is simply not the case. All who progress or retrogress through eternity do so equally. Exaltation, Godhood, and complete unity with God is equally available to men and women. What do you base this accusation on?

    PS — I’m afraid that Blake does not stand with you on the question of an ontological gap between God and humans. I’ve specifically asked him about that and he has explicitly stated he does not believe in such a gap. (I’ll let him confirm that himself though…)

  33. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    Gilgamesh (#29)

    Good point. That comment I made was mostly against the idea of no progression between kingdoms. MMPs are not required for progression between kingdoms to be possible though.

    C Jones (#30)

    The good news is that it is only a model to consider. I think it makes sense but no one is obligated to accept it as an accurate model.

    Adam (#27)

    So it sounds like you are fine with rejecting that mortality is a prerequisite to progress to become a God. Either that or you like the model Stapley mentioned that assumes Jesus has always been God and did not progress to become God. All of these are acceptable Mormon positions. It is just that not all popular assumtions are compatible with each other. (Like the assumption that without this mortality we could not have progressed to be more like God… but then why didn’t God give us more time there to get the job done?)

  34. J. Stapley on January 18, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    I’m not implying anything beyond Blake’s and mine agreement about the eternal Goodhood of Jesus and His Father. I’m not sure about his views beyond that.

    Is it not true that in your model a man repeats mortality untill he can come as Jesus did and atone for a world? I’m simply stating that there is no factual evidence for such a gradation of progression. If there is, where is it? Moreover, if men get to keep going up untill they hit the expiative jack-pot, what do women get this whole time?

    …and no, there is an inherehent theological imbalance in mortality…as Talmage stated it, there is “injustice” in mortality. No kool-aid.

  35. J. Stapley on January 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    It is also my understanding that you reject exaltation by souly the fullness of the priesthood. If not, please offer your explication of the doctrine. It would seem that for you only a small fraction of Temple seelings have any eternal consequence. For whom do sealings actually mean anything? Why do we do proxy work for the dead?

  36. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Geoff J.,
    Wrong. I’m saying that Jesus could function as Jehovah before he experienced mortality. But the experience was still necessary to him. And it is necessary to us.

  37. C Jones on January 18, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    Geoff J- I am trying to consider, and not just reject. Where women fit into the church (much less where we fit into MMP) is a bit of a personal issue.
    What I agree with in #28 is the Talmage quote, and also what J Stapley says here- “So to be frank, mortality is mysoganistic. Eternity is not. ” That is another can of worms for another day though.
    I don’t know enough to have a position on whether God was always God.

    My issues with MMP include:
    - the temple sealings question
    - I understand the scriptures to tell me that I will be resurrected after I die, and that it will be forever
    - MMP muddies the idea of the need for the atonement in my mind
    - I could see the need for some kind of multiple probations- just not a reason that more than one mortal one is necessary
    - Isn’t what happened to the 1/3 who followed Satan kind of like the penal planet punishment?
    - And on a personal note-I’m a little uncomfortable with the idea that I may have been misleading my Primary students- it seems like the My Turn On Earth model is closer to what we are instructed to teach

  38. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    J. (#34),

    Jesus was fully God before this mortality. His atonement did not make him God. We don’t know exactly what it did for him, but we do know it did not make him God. It is true that many believe that Jesus’s instruction to “Come, follow me” apply in the eternities to come. But since full Godhood can be attained prior to an atonement there is ample room for the gradation Abraham taught about. I don’t believe in this “expiative-jackpot” you refer to, therefore your assumptions about the role of women in that process are yours alone.

    And I must point out that Talmage saying “there is “injusticeâ€? in mortality” is a far cry from you saying “Mortaility is misogynisticâ€?…

    Adam (#36),

    If that is what you are saying then I wasn’t wrong. You believe mortality is not required prior to functioning as a full-fledged God.

  39. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    According to a MMP model, why couldn’t Jesus have obtained a body, been married in a temple, and become a God in a previous mortal experience? Maybe MMP can account for Jesus being Jehovah better than the other possibilities?

    And as for the goo model…many of the early bretheren didn’t have a problem with thinking that Sons of Perdition would be dissassembled into their primordial elements, which would then have to start all over on the path of progression. Dusting off the old Journal of Discourses here…

    “The rebellious will be thrown back into their native element, there to remain myriads of years before their dust will again be revived, before they will be re-organized.” (Brigham Young, JD 1:118)

    “When the elements in an organized form do not fill the end of their creation, they are thrown back again, like brother Kimball’s old pottery ware, to be ground up, and made over again. All I have to say about it is what Jesus says–I will destroy Death, and him that hath the ower of it, which is the devil. And if he ever makes “a full end of the wicked,” what else can he do than entirely disorganize them, and reduce them to their native element?” (Brigham Young, JD 1:275)

    Not sure what the opposition to MMP based on temple sealings is about. Perhaps it matters a great deal where you end up after this MP, and the temple gives everyone the chance to progress as far as possible. That’s why we absolutely have to have temple work.

    And for those who think that the Celestial Kingdom is the ultimate resting place, what do you make of D&C 130:10 where we are told that there are whole orders of kingdoms that are higher than the celestialized earth, the Celestial Kingdom we are all trying to get to? Right there in the canonized scriptures we are told that there is more going on than just the D&C 76 three degrees of glory. What’s it going to take to get into one of those? Maybe MMP can help us out with that one?

    Kevin (#24), maybe the world and the plan of salvation is much more complex (and beautiful) than you were able to be taught as a child in Primary. Or that we can teach investigators in the discussions. Or that we can even come out and say explicitly in the temple. Maybe the universe is a grand place–even bigger and more spectacular than our own 19th Century Apostles could describe for us.

    MMP seems to answer a lot of questions, and provide a rich field of inquiry. It may or may not be true. But I think it can answer any and all questions at least as well, if not better, than a more “conservative” LDS metaphysics.

  40. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    C. Jones (#37) RE: on what we are instructed to teach

    One reason maybe we don’t hear too much about MMP from the pulpit is that, while it is true, nobody on the earth is currently authorized to teach it in Church.

    Lest you think this is my own speculation, this is how it was once explained to me by a member of my Area Presidency.

  41. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    One reason maybe we don’t hear too much about MMP from the pulpit is that, while it is true, nobody on the earth is currently authorized to teach it in Church.

    Lol!

    Oh great. Why didn’t I get that memo??

  42. A Nonny Mouse on January 18, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    Rob, #40: “nobody on the earth is currently authorized to teach it in Church.”

    Which is why we have the bloggernacle, right? :)

  43. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    The way I was told it, there was too much concern about people thinking that MMP gave them license to procrastinate their repentance. To eat, drink, and be merry. However, I was told that if we really understood MMP, and really knew how hard we had worked to get to our current station, over countless eternities, there is no possible way we would jeopardize it all by slacking off.

    I wonder though, how often this happens with the current My Turn on Earth view? All I’ve got to do is be baptized and get to the temple. Stay active in church and do my home teaching. Keep it up for maybe 70 or 80 years and then, boom, I’m in the CK and all is good.

    Maybe there’s more to it all than that, and we don’t reach our full potential because My Turn on Earth simplifies things so much that we don’t really take our mortal existence seriously. I mean, hey, if every little kid that dies can get into the CK, how hard can it be?

    Maybe there’s still a big step between being saved in the CK, and becoming a God. Perhaps its all a little bit more complex than the two hour Lex De Azevedo rock opera let on?

  44. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Nonny Mouse–
    I could go with a speculation isn’t actually teaching defense! And you’re right. I would never bring this up in Gospel Doctrine. So where else but in the ‘nacle are we going to be able to think about this stuff?

  45. RD on January 18, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    “I would never bring this up in gospel doctrine.”

    Why? What are you afraid of? What is that turns you off to sharing this newfound truth with others of the faith? Don’t you want them to have the same measure of truth that you have been given?

    Unsubstantiated quotes from unnamed members of unnamed area presidencies seem a bit of a reach. The comfort that comes from the more traditional model of teaching the plan of salvation endorsed by scores of prophets trumps, at least to me, the intellectual gymnastics that benefit the very few that have taken time to formulate an MMP theory.

    Further, I question the move to counter faithful criticism with “I wonder though, how often this [justified slacking] happens with the current My Turn on Earth view? All I’ve got to do is be baptized and get to the temple. Stay active in church and do my home teaching. Keep it up for maybe 70 or 80 years and then, boom, I’m in the CK and all is good.”

    Given the many warnings from prophets, both ancient and modern, about regarding “this life as the time to prepare to meet God” and the attendant commandments, including a lifetime of church activity and home teaching, I scarce can find room for “justified slacking.” I also question a gospel of fear that attends the idea that one slip up here could compromise an eternity of eternities’ hard work. For and my house, we believe in the atoning, saving power of Jesus Christ accessable to those who keep his commandments. And those who repent when the don’t.

    That said, I will keep reading.

  46. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    “full-fledged God”

    I have no idea what you mean by this. What is a full-fledged God, as opposed to a partially-fledged one? I believe that no one can be completely God-like and experience a fulness of joy without experiencing mortality. I also believe that no one has adequately explained why Christ could not have functioned as Jehovah, the Great Angel, etc., prior to his birth. Whether this means I believe in full-fledged Gods, or plucked Gods, or Gods that are only molting, you will have to answer yourself. As far as I know, this classification of Gods is all yours.

    The question I’m more interested in is why you think one has to have experienced mortality to be Jehovah, or why you think most church members think that.

  47. Emma's on January 18, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Rob,

    I think your right. Sometimes we just want a check list and when we have checked something off we often think we are done. However, the Lord said:

    “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 17:14)

    There is something in the gospel called the tests of Abraham. If you follow his life and his encounters with God you will see that the Lord tried his faith and tested his worship in a way which seemed to contradict the gospel. However, in the end Abraham chose God over his family and received all of us as an eternal reward. Remember all is not as it appears to be for a purpose. This life is a maze, a puzzle and a scavenger hunt which we must figure out with a little help from our friends. The tests keep coming and they don’t seem fair, but like it or not you are in it to win it. You might want to watch the movie:

    “The Game” starring Michael Douglas to better understand what I’m talking about.

  48. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Rob,

    Needless to say I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down bro. Your logic in #43 is strikingly similar to arguments I have made over at my blog in similar discussions over the last year.

    RD (#45),

    I agree that the appeals to anonymous authority figures shouldn’t hold too much weight. But I think the model stands on its own without current celebrity endorsements. I will add that the few that took “time to formulate an MMP theory” are not alive today — they were largely prophets and apostles and other 19th century Mormon luminaries.

    I think the point Rob was making about the My Turn on Earth view is not that it is terrible in itself, but rather that it can lead to a false sense of security and apathy as much as MMP teachings can. If one thinks that simply “staying active” in the church is enough they might not be doing enough to repent and draw closer to God. (Just as thinking “there is always next time” can with MMP).

    J Stapley (#35) and C Jones (#37),

    Regarding our temple sealings — I think that Rob is right. Those who live up to every covenant they make with God can fully expect to receive every blessing he has promised. But remember that we are expected to live the law of consecration in this life… This MMP thing is just a model trying to explain what has happened before this life and what might happen after. It is a specific method of talking about progression between kingdoms. One can believe in progression between kingdoms with MMP of course. But I think the MMP idea does seem to tie up a lot of loose theological ends…

  49. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 6:16 pm

    RD, I agree that there isn’t any teaching in the plan of salvation, however it is taught, that should justify slacking. However, I think it is legitimate to wonder if some of us might do that anyway based on a misunderstanding of the gospel. People misunderstand gospel teachings all the time. I’ve been accused of doing that myself, both here and in church ;)

    The reason I don’t want to name names on my GA source is maybe journalistic. It wouldn’t be fair to put it out there on the web when his own understanding of this wasn’t given for that purpose. I don’t want to use what he said to “prove” a point other than that other people are thinking about some of these ideas, including at least some of our General Authorities. They are careful not to go beyond what is commonly accepted doctrine in their talks from the pulpit. Maybe someone with more experience than I with General Authorities can answer how often they are willing to speculate off the record about “Space Doctrine.”

    It may be that MMP, even if true, is not a necessary teaching to get us to the next level that is obtainable to us. Perhaps the My Turn on Earth model is all that is needed for us to get us to the temple to make the covenants that we need to in order to obtain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.

    As for why I wouldn’t bring this all up in Gospel Doctrine class–a) I don’t want to spark controversy there, and b) I do respect what I was told, that noone currently has authority to teach this idea in the Church.

    If MMP is a) controversial to many members, b) not necessary for exaltation in the CK, and c) currently not publicly taught be the General Authorities, than I would not take it upon myself to bring it up at Church.

    But I would be willing to speculate about it in the blogernacle, if only to help me think through my own thoughts about the eternities ;)

  50. Eric James Stone on January 18, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve just read the Heber C. Kimball talk in Journal of Discourses (http://journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_04/refJDvol4-60.html) that you quote above, and it seems fairly scant evidence on which to base the more elaborate MMP hypothesis. For example, there’s no mention of other worlds. And it’s certainly possible to give a reasonable interpretation of the passage that does not involve the MMP hypothesis at all. (He’s making analogies, and one must always be careful not to take analogies too far. And the use of the plural noun in “probations we take” could merely be the agregation of the individual probations of all the people included in “we,” rather than meaning that any particular individual has multiple probations.)

    Are there some other quotes from early church authorities that lay out the hypothesis in more detail, or at least make clear the idea of repeated mortal probations for one individual?

  51. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    Eric,

    Jeff Giliam put together a pretty good post on the subject. See here.

  52. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Adam: What is a full-fledged God, as opposed to a partially-fledged one?

    As I’ve talked with Mormons about this, it has become clear that lots of them see God the Father as a “full-fledged” God and the resurrected Christ as a full-fledged God, but they see the premortal Christ and Holy Ghost as something less than that — “partially-fledged” as you say. I was just clarifying that I don’t make that distinction. As I said, I don’t know what this mortality and the Atonement did for Christ; but it didn’t make him God.

    The question I’m more interested in is why you think one has to have experienced mortality to be Jehovah, or why you think most church members think that.

    I’ll repeat what I said in #25:

    The standard sound bite that I have always heard is that we had reached a point where we could no longer progress to become like God without having a physical body so this earth became necessary.

    This is pretty standard stuff in the church I think. I’ve heard it my whole life. The idea is that without a mortality like this earth our spiritual growth was forever stunted. Apparently you disagree with this idea. That is ok.

  53. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    There does seem to be something to the point that the Atonement allowed Christ to achieve a “fullness” (cf. D&C 88)–a level of exaltation higher than held previously as Jehovah of the OT. He seems to have been a god before then, but achieved a higher degree of exaltation after that.

  54. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    Here’s an interesting quote from Orson Pratt (though he was only an Apostle):

    “The Gods who dwell in the Heaven from which our spirits came, are beings who have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state.” (The Seer(1853-4), p. 20)

    Even if you consider this all speculative, it surely places the current advocates of an MMP doctrine in good company. If nothing else, it has a long and venerable tradition in our Church. Geoff J. didn’t just make all this up one day during a dull moment in Gospel Doctrine class.

  55. Brad Haas on January 18, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    #7 Geoff-

    Indeed, and those ideas only inspire other questions, like how the atonement reaches other “batches,” and so on. But I still get hung up mainly on the idea that each set of heavenly parents has a finite number of children, and that that implies that you could look backward through time to an origin. It seems to me that knowing the origin of a thing can tell us how it achieves fulfillment, from can openers to cars to people. In other words, if we’re asked why it is that we pursue this goal of eternal exaltation, why it is that that’s good, etc., the only satisfactory answer I can think of is that we’re made for it. Hence my interest in this subject: who or what made us for it?

  56. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Brad
    Maybe its just in the nature of intelligences to either progress or retrogress, and now we’re at a state where the next level of progression is exaltation.

  57. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    The idea is that without a mortality like this earth our spiritual growth was forever stunted. Apparently you disagree with this idea. That is ok.

    I don’t disagree with it, Geoff J. Why do you think I do?

  58. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    Joseph Smith (in the KFD) on different levels of exaltation–

    “What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children.”

  59. A Nonny Mouse on January 18, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    Rob, #54: “The Gods who dwell in the Heaven from which our spirits came, are beings who have been redeemed from the grave in a world which existed before the foundations of this earth were laid. They and the Heavenly body which they now inhabit were once in a fallen state.� (The Seer(1853-4), p. 20)

    Actually, Rob, you’ll note that this quote says absolutely nothing about multiple mortal probations. And, that’s really the crux of the matter: it’s clear that Early Mormons believed that an earth could go from a fallen state to a non-fallen state. It’s clear that they believed that God(s) was(were) once a mortal being. It’s not so clear that God(s) was(were) many mortal beings over a long period of time, reincarnated multiple times so as to be able to finally make it home…

    Here is the sealing problem as I see it: what’s the point? Why bother having a sealing ordinance if in some other lifetime on another world, you’re going to have to do it all over again? If it’s meaningless, why do it at all? Why require it as a “saving ordinance?”

    Secondly, going way back to Clark in #21, I’m going to have to once again assert my idiocy and bring up my complaint once again: Clarks possibilities would be fine if they didn’t over-interpret the text: the text says “time is measured only to man.” Not, “time is measured differently for man” or “time is measured only concretely for man, but quite abstractedly for God.” It’s wording seems to leave little wiggle room. Which is why I still have a hard time understanding how you could think God is time bound, unless you think Alma was speaking improperly (i.e. one of Mormoni’s “errors of men)…

  60. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    Nonny Mouse–you’ll note that this quote says absolutely nothing about multiple mortal probations.–Fair ’nuff, I may have read too much into this based on my understanding of MMP, but its still a great quote. I like how it indicates that there are more than one God in the Heaven where we came from. Lest we think that this just refers to our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, it is interesting that OP says that they were “redeemed” from the world they lived on before. If they were redeemed, then someone else must have been their redeemer? That doesn’t quite square with the “Heavenly Father was a Savior during his previous mortal experience” line of thought. Maybe MMP are implied here? One probation in which he was redeemed, another in which he was the redeemer? Or does it? Maybe we’re talking about more than one Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother there? Like what we expecte our own CK will be like? What does a CK with lots of Gods living on it really look like? Or perhaps this quote is too sketchy and we shouldn’t read too much into it?

  61. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    A Nonny Mouse: Here is the sealing problem as I see it: what’s the point? Why bother having a sealing ordinance if in some other lifetime on another world, you’re going to have to do it all over again?

    I think the simple answer is: Keep all of your promises to God and he’ll keep all of his to you. The temple covenants are all clearly if/then oriented. None of us is permanently sealed to our spouse yet — we have a promise of a permanent seal IF we keep our covenants.

    If MMPs are an accurate model of reality then it means that we either never had a chance to make and keep temple covenants before or we had a chance and didn’t manage to keep them. In any case, we are best off keeping the promises we make to God here and now. The good news is God is aching to help us do that.

    Regarding time — other scriptures (like in the PoGP) talk about God’s time, so it is not so easy to simply say God does not have time and humans do.

  62. Laura W on January 18, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    So is each world in the MMP similar? Do they all have access to temples, or do some of the more earlier probations lack knowledge of the gospel and saving ordinances? Or does one progress through a series of worlds, learning more and more, getting closer and closer to the Celestial Kingdom (or beyond) each time?

  63. Ivan Wolfe on January 18, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    An interesting thread, so far. J. Stapley has me totally lost, though. He’s having a conversation with someone – I’m just not sure its the commentators on this thread.

    I think the idea of multiple universes is plausible, but this MMP thing sounds too much like reincarnation to me. As well, it does seem to render temple ceremonies meaningless. But, I haven’t thought too deeply about it. I’ll just try to get through this life as best I can. Future lives (whether on other Earths or in the Celestial Kingdom) can wait until I get through with this one.

  64. sarebear on January 18, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    On a side note, I’m wondering if, Geoff, you are getting any sleep at all anymore, and if your wife is sliding you trays of food beneath the door . . . . So many posts, at so many sites!

    Teehee.

  65. Rob on January 18, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    Laura W.–Maybe we can get some understanding by taking a look around us. Here on earth we have some folks who will never have the gospel in their lives, others are born into active LDS families. Some aren’t even people–but intelligences mastering other levels of existence as plants, sea urchins, birds, etc. If all intelligences are capable of progress (as Joseph Smith taught), what we may be seeing in the natural world is what these intelligences, someday, on some other world, will refer to as one of their earlier MMP experiences?

  66. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Laura W: So is each world in the MMP similar?

    My theory is that the answer to this question is yes. I posted on a Nibley article I think implies this here. Then I expanded on the idea by opining that every world is like an improvisatory play with the same basic script in this post. The idea is that we improvise our various roles and either progress or retrogress based on our free choices. I think this might be one of the many meaning of the scriptural term “the course of the Lord is one eternal round“.

  67. Geoff J on January 18, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    Sarebear – I would feel bad for temporarily abandoning the Thang but Kristen has picked up the slack for me there. And she is so good that I’m afraid the readers will be sad to see me back in a few days…

  68. Laura W on January 18, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Geoff J and Rob:

    Thanks for the explanation and the additional links. I had heard something about the MMP idea before, but had understood that some probationary areas did not have access to the gospel as we know it, temples, etc. (Who knows where I got this idea, the bloggernacle is showing me that I’ve apparently made some creative assumptions about LDS theology.)

    Given this explanation, it makes a lot of sense to me that some people get it right here, and the rest of us are given another chance to try and work it out in another place. I wonder if those who abuse the system (“why follow covenants here if I can do it later…”) actually regress and start further away in their next probation, by being born to a non-LDS family, or even being born into an area with no knowledge of the gospel?

    Thanks for all the ideas to think about in the weeks to come!

  69. Seth Rogers on January 18, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Hey Geoff,

    Read the original post, but kinda zoned-out on the following discussion (sorry guys). But I’d like to respond to the original post.

    I’m not quite comfortable with the idea of a “temporal God” (i.e. one who is making a forward journey through time as we are). My understanding of God was that He lives in an “Eternal Now.” I have no idea where to cite that comment, but I believe it came from a GA … Anyway, the idea is that all moments in time are perpetually before God and He experiences them all seperately, yet simultaneously.

    So it’s not just a matter of God having forknowlege of things that haven’t happened yet. He’s already there right now, witnessing it unfold.

    My belief was that time was an artificial construct that mortals use to cope with their existence. But Einstein already has indicated that time may not be so solid as we expected, and more recent theories in physics are even more mind-blowing.

    It seems that to encompass eternity, God must have it all perpetually before Him (I know I’m using temporal terminology to describe this, which just shows how wedded our mortal minds are to the concept of time).

    What then is the nature of our exhaltation after death? How will we experience time and space?

    A hint is perhaps given by the D&C. It indicates that the exhalted Earth will essentially become a massive Urim and Thummin. Some picture a smooth sphere of glass and it seems rather dull, but I think this misses the point.

    The nature of a seerstone is to reveal all things. It can guide and inform a directed inquiry by one who looks upon it. Essentially, we shall be able to see things as they really are. Whatever truth we seek can be laid out before us. So if, say … I want to surround myself with forests and mountains, I may do so. Who knows, perhaps we can actively create the reality that surrounds us in our exhalted states …

    But getting back to God … Perhaps I am returning to more of the Platonistic idea of a perfect, and static God. At least, I’m not willing to take it as far as some and conceptualize Him as “just like us, but a little further down the path.” I picture Him already at the apex. And there is no “path,” no catching up on our part. Because, really, there is no such thing as “time” in the way we perceive it.

    But I don’t embrace the idea of a “static God” either. He is perpetually in progression. Yet how can this be if He is indeed perfect and all eternity lies bare before Him? He progresses through the growing light that fills all existence. He progresses through our progression. Even as I am enriched by my daughter’s increase in learning and character, so is God expanded through my own righteousness and diminished through my rebellion. God stands at the apex, and is made more glorious as the creations at His feet are illuminated.

    Of course, this brings us back to the query: how can you have an increasing God without a sense of forward progression …. without time?

    Well, I don’t think we’ll ever know until our own minds are able to transcend time and space as well.

    “Eternity lies ahead of us, and behind. Have you drunk your fill?”

  70. Eric James Stone on January 18, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Thanks for the link to Jeff Gilliam’s post. Here’s my analysis of his evidence:

    I think it’s pretty non-controversial (within the LDS Church) that there were mortal probations on other worlds preceding ours, and that there will be mortal probations on other worlds in the future. So references to a past mortal existence for God the Father or to a future mortal existence for the Holy Ghost do not provide any support for the idea of multiple mortal probations for people who have experienced mortal probation on our world.

    The references to Jesus, Adam and Eve, and Satan as possibly having had resurrected bodies prior to this world do provide some support for MMP. Each of them, however, had a specific and pivotal role to play in either the fall or the atonement for our world. So even if it is true that they did have prior mortal probations, it’s possible that they were special exceptions, rather than part of a general rule.

    The idea of progression between kingdoms, if it is possible, does not require mortal probations beyond the one necessary to gain a body. (I’ll grant that MMP is compatible with such progression. But absent statements that such progression would require additional mortal probations, discussion of possible progression between kingdoms is not evidence for MMP.)

    So the only evidence left for general MMP is an unusual reading of what Christ said to Nicodemus about being born again, and the following quote from Lorenzo Snow: “His sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith, was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received if from the Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, it it came from the Lord or His oracle.â€?

    Based on the evidence I’ve seen so far, if past Church leaders believed that people in general will receive multiple mortal probations, they never bothered to state it.

  71. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 1:17 am

    Eric,

    Don’t forget Heber C. Kimball’s “This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days labours, and it is for us to be faithful to-day, tomorrow, and every day.

    I’m not saying that MMP has to be true, but I think it is a little silly to assert that no apostles or prophets ever believed it.

  72. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 1:27 am

    Seth,

    Apparently lots of Mormons believe in a God that lives out of time these days so you are certainly not alone. I’m not one of them.

    You alluded to these, but to restate the two main problems as I understand them: Motion requires time and time requires motion. I know you have a specific definition of progress, but that does not solve the problem in my mind. The second and bigger problem is that we believe in a God with a physical body. Space also requires time as I understand it.

    I think the problem is that you are too close to the timeless, immaterial God of inhereted from Platonic thought. The God revealed to us through Joseph Smith doesn’t meet the criteria of Platonic timelessness. I recommend Blake Ostler’s book on this subject as well. He goes into great detail on the subject. (Sterling McMurrin also commented on the metaphysics of being vs. becoming in Mormonism. I posted on that recently.)

  73. sarebear on January 19, 2006 at 2:54 am

    Thanks, Geoff! Looks like she misses you, tho, ala her new post. We’ll have the place covered in slingshots and pirate eye patches before you get back and you won’t recognize the place . . .

  74. Seth Rogers on January 19, 2006 at 10:32 am

    Yeah, I know it’s problematic (as I mentioned at the end).

    But I also think it’s risky to try and wed the Mormon concept of deity to a sense of time when the current trend of particle and quantum physics seems likely to turn all our assumptions upside-down in the near future.

  75. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2006 at 10:35 am

    So I’m trying to figure out what the appeal of the MMP model is:

    1) It’s esoteric and unusual.

    Not a reason we should respect, though given our anxiety about becoming too mainstream, I can certainly understand the appeal.

    2) It solves theological problems.

    I haven’t seen any compelling argument that it does and, as we have seen in this thread, it also creates theological problems.

    3) It allows us to return to an older, purer Mormonism of the 19th Century.

    This is a good reason, but not compelling. And I’m persuaded by Eric James Stones that the MMP model was hardly normative even back in the day, though certainly much more common tha now.

    4) It escapes the ‘harshness’ of just having one life to get it right.

    This isn’t harsh to me. It’s invigorating. It gives a lot of meaning to my current choices and actions.

    5) It makes us feel better about the injustices of this world, because maybe people deserve it from the way they behaved in the past one.

    This is a point in the MMP’s favor. I don’t like it much, for reasons of my own, but I think most people would find this appealing. This might get unfairly associated with the justifications for the blacks and the priesthood ban, but there’s no particular reason it should be.

    6) The MMP allows us to always have free will, in the sense that we have a real possibility of sinning and regressing after this life no matter how sanctified we become now.

    I hate this. I am here to become good irrevocably, like I believe God is.

  76. Seth Rogers on January 19, 2006 at 10:49 am

    The problem with multiple chances to “get it right” is that it shifts the focus away from “identity” to “environment.”

    MMP deemphasizes the importance of inherent strength of identity, character, and personal affiliation. In its place, it emphasizes the impact of one’s environment.

    The alternative view is that environment is not half as important as who we inherently are. Under this view, one chance is all you need to really show who you really are internally.

    To some then, MMP is going to smack of abdication of self-accountability. It’s similar to appeals to genetics, child-rearing, discrimination, etc. as justifications for personal failings.

    Besides, doesn’t the idea that “everyone can get it right eventually” kinda cheapen the whole idea of salvation?

    Finally, it sounds suspiciously likes Lucifer’s plan wherein all would be saved through external force.

    “Now you’re going to experience mortality, and, by golly, you’re going to experience it until you get it right!” Seems a bit coercive if you ask me.

  77. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Good thoughts and questions Adam — thanks for bringing them up because I assume many others are wondering the same things.

    I’ll just explain what I find appealing about the model (these specifics often match the general points you brought up).

    1.) Long before I had ever heard of MMP or that any other Mormon in the world had ever considered it I wondered if it might be an explanation of the eternities. I mostly came to this conclusion after studying Joseph Smith’s King Follet discourse. In that the message I got was:

    - God the Father used to be a man like us
    - Since the Son only did what he saw his Father do, the Father must have also been a savior like Jesus is for us
    - We can all be like them

    I later learned that I was not at all the only one that read that sermon to mean those things. MMP is to me the best way to reconcile those messages.

    2.) I also discovered that the idea of MMP solved all sorts of sticky theological problems for me. It is a particularly useful resolution to Theodicy I think.

    - God is not concerned much about our mortal lives in this model — he is only concerned about our use of agency. He is concerned with making bad men good and good men better. That helps me understand why God need not stop hundreds of thousands from being killed in tsunamis, or millions being slaughtered in genocide attempts, etc. There is no evil in death itself – there is only evil in sin (though certainly parting from loved ones is still great cause for mourning regardless of the model one uses.)
    - It helps me understand why some are given great spiritual opportunities whereas others are born in times or places that give zero chance for learning about Christianity let alone restored Christianity. Some call this racist but they are wrong. It has nothing to do with race. Kings of great countries have equally lacked spiritual opportunity in this life along with their slaves. God is just and he seems to know what he is doing in placing spirits in bodies in various times and places. I think it is entirely a matter of the parable of the talents — we must double our talents (spiritually) whether we are born with 1, 2, or 5. Sure, I think most Mormons are born with the symbolic 5 — but I’m not sure we are any better at doubling our talents than anyone else. But doubling them is required to be told “well done thou good and faithful servant”.
    - It allows for a theology of real free will (as you mentioned). If God can cease to be God as our scriptures state then he still has free will. MMP fits that model. I never want to become an automaton even in the Celestial kingdom — and I don’t think it is even possible. I think free will is a characteristic of intelligence that cannot be turned off in sentient beings.
    - The temple makes a lot more sense to me in this model. I see our teachings there as symbolically taking us from pre-sentience to exaltation and full unity with God. I better understand what Nibley was talking about when he repeatedly said “the temple is a scale model of the universe� when I see through this lens.
    - Scriptural terms like “the course of the Lord is one eternal round� finally make some sense to me
    - I no longer believe that I will really be sealed to my wife for all eternity if I don’t really keep every covenant in the temple. I want that promise to become a reality so I am trying to take my commitments more seriously than ever (read: consecration)

    3) Spiritual Mormon luminaries of the 19th century believed it. This is least compelling to me. 19th century Mormons believed false things too. But it doesn’t hurt to realize I was not the first one to think of it! (I certainly don’t think doctrines should be given credence just for being weird or esoteric).

    (I may think of more reasons later, but that is a start)

  78. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Seth: “Now you’re going to experience mortality, and, by golly, you’re going to experience it until you get it right!� Seems a bit coercive if you ask me

    I think you misunderstand. Some people will never get it right. Mercifully I think the Lord allows for the “destruction of the soul” over the eternities in those case. See the quotes Rob provided from Brigham Young about the destruction and recycling of souls in comment #39.

  79. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2006 at 11:34 am

    The two of your reasons that make sense are (1) the one on theodicy (though I don’t think its reason enough to adopt the model) and (2) the one on free will, but only if you assume that a real, continued possibility to sin is desirable, which I don’t. If you have time, I’d like to see a post on why you think its necessary that God have a real possibility of sinning. Or, if you don’t get to it until after you leave, email me the link and I’ll put a post linking to it.

  80. Seth Rogers on January 19, 2006 at 11:39 am

    Geoff, maybe so. But the problems remain.

  81. A Nonny Mouse on January 19, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    Geoff #76: It helps me understand why some are given great spiritual opportunities whereas others are born in times or places that give zero chance for learning about Christianity let alone restored Christianity.

    But, the standard doctrines of the atonement and the millenium and proxy-temple work already take into account this point (and most of the others) and resolve them, much more tidily in my mind than the way you say that the MMP clears them up.

    For example: yes there is injustice in the world in terms of access to the Gospel. This is why we have proxy ordinances and gospel instruction the spirit world (both of which were clearly believed and taught widely and openly by “spiritual Mormon luminaries of the 19th century”). There is a need to teach people things that they couldn’t have learned here on earth due to simple lack of geographic/sociological access to the truth. The Millenium then gives the opportunity to clear up any extra loose ends that didn’t get tied up during the time here on earth. In the MMP model, proxy ordinances are simply non-sensical. Why bother baptizing somebody after they die if they can just receive baptism during their next “turn on earth?” Additionally, why bother having a grand tying up at the end of the world if there’s no need to get it all right in this life on this earth? Why not just let things take their course?

    It seems like in order to make the MMP model sensible and consistent, you have to throw out a lot of other very standard and widely accepted and taught truths. Why bother using this kind of a model when most/all of the spiritual insights you have gained from it can be gained from other more doctrinally germane points of view?

  82. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    t seems like in order to make the MMP model sensible and consistent, you have to throw out a lot of other very standard and widely accepted and taught truths.

    Nonny Mouse, I don’t see this at all. Maybe I’m missing something here. Could you give us the list of things we have to throw out?

    As for what else MMP provides that the standard views don’t:
    How about a better appreciation for life and existence in general? For animals? If I have to choose between animals as some sort of inferior creation or beings in a stage of eternal progression that could someday possibly even become my own spiritual children…well, I think the second is more interesting to me.

    I don’t think the concept of eternal progession makes any sense at all if the sum of our existence is to progress from being an intelligence, whatever that is, to being born as a spirit, to sitting through a big meeting with all the other billions of spirits, to coming here in a crapshoot to get a body and maybe find the gospel, and then resurrection to be like God–the supreme being. To me, the standard view cheapens diety by making godhood seem like something you could get for a Christmas present if you mind your ps and qs for 70+ years. If godhood is something that takes an almost infinite amount of time to achieve over many eternities and mortal progressions, it seems like something even more valuable.

    And really, it doesn’t come down to which view do you like, but which view is true. For those who oppose MMP, how would you propose that we determine the truth of this matter?

  83. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Geoff J, Heber C. Kimball’s statement is not as clear a statement of MMP as you make it out to be. As I mentioned before, he’s making analogies, and one must always be careful of taking analogies too far when interpreting them.

    For example, the term “resurrection” means rising from the dead with an immortal body. That’s how it’s used in the scriptures and by every LDS authority I know of. But to fit the MMP model, “resurrection” in HCK’s statement means being born into a new mortal probation. If that’s what he meant, why didn’t he say that rising in the morning is typical of birth?

    If this passage in one speech is your only evidence that HCK believed in MMP, then I don’t think you can say with certainty that he believed it. It’s possible to interpret the passage merely as saying something equivalent to “Every day, it’s as if you have been given a new life. Make the most of each day.”

    The concept of multiple mortal probations is very simple to explain and understand. But no such simple explanation is given in the scriptures or by early Church authorities. (I’m assuming that if someone had spelled it out plainly, you wouldn’t be using the HCK quote instead of that.)

  84. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    A Nonny Mouse,

    It is true that proxy work for the dead answers may similar questions. And it may very well be that if MMP is true that the meaning of such proxy work is not exactly what we commonly think it is. But MMP provides a more comprehensive way to answer a lot more questions. As I mentioned it explains how God used to be both a man *like us* and and savior in the eternities past — and thus how man may become like him. It fits better with a view of reality that is all about becoming too. I firmly believe that exaltation is about what and who we are, not what we get. Changing what and who we are takes time. While MMP is not the only way to explain how we have that time, it is one way. It also gets us around the difficult questions about why we need to be here specifically to begin with. If “getting a body” is all that is really required then there would be MUCH more efficient ways of doing that for all of us.

    But the common assumptions about proxy work are a problem. Perhaps (if MMP is an accurate model) we will learn that proxy work is more about our practicing being saviors on Mt. Zion than anything else. Maybe that is not it at all. I just don’t know for sure — so I reserve the right to change my mind on all of this stuff at any time. (grin)

  85. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    I think A Nonny Mouse makes an excellent point.

    To paraphrase 1 Cor. 15:29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead shall be born into a new mortal probation? why are they then baptized for the dead?

  86. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Eric,

    I actually don’t care that much who explicitly or openly preached the idea in the past or not. I only care if it is true or not. It seems pretty obvious to me that many 19th century church leaders did preach it (albeit usually quietly) but they also preached other things quietly and openly that I’m certain are false. They had the right to wrong just like any of the rest of us after all. (See my comment #75)

  87. Brad Haas on January 19, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    #70 Geoff, you said, “Motion requires time and time requires motion.” I would say that actually time requires change, i.e., time is a measure of change. Motion is a form of change (changing position), but even without any motion, you could measure time by another change (such as a change in the intellect or will, neither of which involves motion).

  88. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    I haven’t brought this up, because I haven’t been able to track downt the reference yet, but at one point Heber C. Kimball was given a blessing in which he was promised that someday he would be able to become a Savior for a world, just like Christ had been. That would make it at least 2 MPs for him. And if we can only become like Christ, and ultimately achieve the same glory by doing exactly what He has done, then we will all have to take another turn on an earth as well. There has been debate about whether this is the case or not–maybe you can obtain the same glory as God without having to pass through exactly the same experience, but that seems contrary to the teachings of Joseph Smith. Look for references to Christ drinking the bitter cup–and the promises that we will also drink of it, and think about what that might mean.

    Looking for that HCK reference now…

  89. Don on January 19, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    One of the problems I see with the comments so far is not taking into consideration the Millenium. Why do we feel it would take multiple earth lives to become God? We will have 1,000 years without Satan’s influence to to that. Considering the progress we can make in 50 or 60 years with Satan, what can we do in 1,000 years without him. I don’t know that we need multiple earth probations….one Millenium should do it.

  90. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Rob,
    If MMP is truth, so be it, but I understand drinking the bitter cup to mean that we will have to experience total abandonment and still persevere, like Christ did, and Abraham.

  91. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    I think the biggest problem people have with MMP is the idea of not having being “inseparably connected” at the resurrection. The way it was explained to me, perhaps after we are resurrected, we gain one level of exaltation–that of Abraham, sitting on a throne and given the chance to have eternal posterity. Maybe we have the choice there to continue in that state forever, or if we want to progress even more, we can take on other roles on other earths–maybe that of an Adam, or a Christ. Each one of those may represent a “condescension”–leaving the safety of immortality, to risk it all for the benefit of other progressing spirits. Nobody forces you to give up being “inseperably connected”, but it may be an option if you want to progress.

    If Christ had to atone for a world, or worlds, to achieve the same glory as his Father, how can we expect to get the same glory without doing so? And if we have to do so, than it would seem like another mortal probation would be in the works.

    The two big questions that the My Turn on Earth view can’t satisfy for me is–
    1) if I’m an eternal being (Joseph Smith KJD, Book of Abraham), where have I been forever?
    2) What is the nature of exaltation and eternal progression?

    Maybe we don’t need the answers to these questions to make it to the CK. But what about those other, higher kingdoms, which we read about in D&C 130?

  92. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    “If Christ had to atone for a world, or worlds, to achieve the same glory as his Father, how can we expect to get the same glory without doing so?”

    Grace, my friend.

  93. Seth Rogers on January 19, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    MMP also risks pulling the typical Mormon trick of removing Christ’s atonement from the equation.

    The only reason you need multiple shots at getting it right is if we are expected to progress in a linear fashion as a PREREQUISITE for salvation. Each time, you are supposed to be getting a little better.

    Well yes, we are expected to progress in a sort of linear fashion. But such progression is NOT a prerequisite for salvation. Repentance, love of God, and full acceptance of the Atonement is the prerequisite (accompanied by the appropriate ordinances).

    The only task we have here on earth is to choose God or not. It’s not a question of accumulating better karma over each cycle. It’s a question of one affirmative choice. And you only need one chance to make that choice.

  94. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Adam (#92)–
    Merry Chrismas. But you stilll may not get that godhood you asked for until after you’ve done all you can do–including passed through a couple more mortal probations!

    Seth (#93)–
    Maybe its nitpicking, but there is a big difference between salvation–which is assured to all through the atonement of Christ, and exaltation–which comes in degrees through obedience and experience. I think it is more complicated than just “choosing God or not”. Otherwise, we wouldn’t need to do much more than our Born Again friends advocate–choose Jesus, once and for all, and you’re good to go.

  95. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Eric (#83)–More quotes for your consideration

    “And thus, all the different portions of the earth have been and will be disposed of to the lawful heirs; while those who cannot prove their heirship to be legal, of who cannot prove that they have received any portion of the earth by promise, will be cast out into some other kingdom or world, where, if they ever get an inheritance, they will have to earn it by keeping the law of meekness during another probation.” (Orson Pratt, JD 1:332-333)

    “Joseph always told us that we would have to pass by sentinels that are placed between us and our Father and God. Then, of course, we are conducted along from this probation to other probations, or from one dispensation to another, by those who conducted those dispensations.” (Heber C. Kimball, JD 6:63)

    It ain’t just obscure references to potters clay..

  96. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Orson Pratt said: “I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body of flesh and bones, before he came (to earth and) he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given.” (Minutes of meeting on April 5, 1860, BY Papers).

    I remember on my mission when I first heard that Jesus (and Satan!) had a body before the foundation of this world. Maybe I felt a bit like Orson Pratt here. I lay down on my bed and just stared at the ceiling. My mind was completely blown. But now it makes perfect sense to me.

    The plan of salvation isn’t a 3 act play with a pre-existence, mortal existence, and final rest. Its more of an eternal journey of progression–incomprehensibly long, with each stage consecrated for our growth and progression by a God who, “finding himself in the midst of spirits and glory…saw fit to institute laws whereby his children might advance like himself and have glory upon glory” (Joseph Smith, KFD).

  97. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Geoff (#86)

    > I actually don’t care that much who explicitly or openly preached the idea in the past or not. I
    > only care if it is true or not.

    Perhaps you should also care whether, even if it is true, God wants it openly discussed.

    Rob (#95),

    Those quotes are certainly less obscure, although they do not make clear that those other probations are mortal. As one progresses from elementary school to middle school to high school to college to graduate school, one keeps going to another school, but that does not mean it is the same type of school. Those statements are perfectly compatible with the theory that there is one mortal probation needed to gain a body, and that other probationary (but not mortal) states exist as we progress toward perfection.

  98. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Eric: Perhaps you should also care whether, even if it is true, God wants it openly discussed.

    I do care about that Eric. Do you have any insights for me?

  99. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Seth (#93): But such progression is NOT a prerequisite for salvation. Repentance, love of God, and full acceptance of the Atonement is the prerequisite

    I think this statement contradicts itself. Repentance is progress spiritually.

    Don (#89) – I think there are two problem with your suggestion about the Millenium. Frist I’m not convinced we understand what the millenium is. I think the “thousand years” spoken of in scripture really means “a really long time” and could be allegorical for far more than just a period here on earth. (I posted on this idea here) Second, I can’t see how having no opposition would help us become more like God. It is like saying “If you think we are getting stronger by bench pressing 200 pounds regularly, wait to see how strong we’ll get by beching just air”. It’s counter-intuitive to me. I think spiritual progress and gaining spiritual faith requires opposition.

  100. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    I think there’s plenty of room for discussion…especially after your home teaching is “done” for the month. I’d be less happy to have this taught at church, unless it came from the prophet. For me, its something to think about and explore as I try and better understand God and my relationship to Him. To me it makes sense, I think there is some truth there, though I admit to having a lot of questions about it. I would be pefectly willing to stipulate that, even if it is true, maybe MMP and the nature of exactly how we become like God is an advanced lesson to be given later, after we are true and faithful and are actually anointed Priests and Kings to the Most High God. If so, there may be no use arguing about differential equations when we haven’t mastered second semester Algebra, and I’m willing to let it go. However, until I’m told that by a priesthood leader or by the Spirit, I hope we can indulge this speculation as an exercise in seeking greater light and knowledge.

    Clearly, if the Lord wanted everyone talking about it, he’d reveal it through proper channels. That said, it isn’t clear that just because he hasn’t done so, that he doesn’t want anyone talking or wondering about it. Especially those who have already “done” our home teaching for the month ;)

  101. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    and are actually anointed Priests and Kings to the Most High God

    Don’t forget Priestesses and Queens, mate (Stapley may stop by here again…)

    ;-)

  102. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    Of course, Geoff! My bad. Can’t do it without our better halves…they apparently have a big part to play when we are actually called up to be anointed Priests and Kings…

  103. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    If, as you say, “many 19th century church leaders did preach it (albeit usually quietly),” you might ask yourself why they did so quietly. I mean, it’s not like it’s a shameful doctrine, and it certainly would not have been as controversial at the time as other doctrines that were preached more openly (such as God once having been a man, and our potential to become like God.)

    In the present day, proclaiming such a doctrine would hardly make us be considered much more different from mainstream Christianity than we already are, and it might even allow for easier missionary work among the large numbers of people who are members of religions that believe in reincarnation.

    But perhaps there’s a good reason for keeping it as a doctrine that is not preached, even if true. (See Rob’s #40.) For example, perhaps the mere idea of multiple mortal probations encourages people to procrastinate the day of their repentance. (“So what if I indulge in sin during this life? I’ll always have a chance to get things right in my next probation.”) Teaching the doctrine may do more harm than good.

  104. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    I’m OK with not teaching it. But not discussing it among ourselves? Do you have a problem with that, Eric? Is there a difference?

  105. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    I think there’s a difference between a private discussion and a public discussion.

  106. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    Yeah, ummm, thanks Eric. So should I run all of my ideas by you before posting from now on? This MMP thing is an idea that has been discussed in public and private in the church for more than 150 years — what business do you have implying that it is inappropriate to consider its merits together here in the bloggernacle?

  107. Eric James Stone on January 19, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    I am not telling you that you’re not allowed to consider its merits in the bloggernacle.

    I am merely suggesting that maybe there are reasons why — even if it is true — Church authorities tended to discuss the doctrine privately instead of publicly, and that maybe there is wisdom in following their example.

  108. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    That is the beauty of not being an apostle, Eric. We’re allowed to speculate and pontificate about these sorts of things without everyone thinking we are revealing the great secret gnosis or something. Nobody really gives a rip about my doctrinal speculations and I like it that way. I can even get it right but nobody but God would know for sure. Apostles, on the other hand, have to watch every word they say. The bigger the church gets the more this is true.

    As for causing procrastination, I think true doctrine always leads to repentance and I think understanding MMPs correctly provides even greater incentive to repent now and to not procrastinate than the My Turn on Earth model does.

    I think the primary reason MMP has not talked about all that much in public historically has been for PR purposes and because the brethren probably felt the lay membership might not be able to handle such ideas. That may have been true (and may still be) for the general body of the church — maybe this idea is too much meat for them. (Sort of like lots of other things were never talked about like the fact that Joseph also had plural wives, Brigham’s Adam-God beliefs, etc.) But the bloggernacle is not the general body of the church by any stretch of the imagination. If we can discuss SSM and polyandry here ad nauseum then surely we can discuss edifying (to me at least) and potentially true doctrines like MMP here as well.

  109. jjohnsen on January 19, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    So if this is true, is there really any reason for me to not give up now and work on this in the next mortality? If the next mortality is anything like this one, I won’t remember the last one and everything will be fresh and new, right? Eventually I’ll probably get things right.

    This is where I get confused, if we have more than one opportunity to get it right, why does it matter what we do?

  110. Geoff J on January 19, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    jjohnsen,

    Well presumably if one chooses to procrastinate the day of their repentance they automatically lose the opportunity to be together with their spouse beyond this life (since that only happens as a resul of keeping our covenants) plus one would retrogress spiritually and would be further from God in the probabtions to come and would accordingly have fewer spiritual opportunities. As Heber C. Kimball put it that person would “on awaking, find [herself] in the rear”. The parable of the talents indicates that the Lord would be unhappy with such a slothful servant and would take away the opportunities that she squandered here and give them to another.

    But agency endures so all hope is not lost for that soul — she would just be put way behind in her progress toward joy in the eternities.

  111. Rob on January 19, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    jjohnsen,

    If you give up now and wait for another chance in a future eternity, you will be like the unwise servant who hid his talent, and what you have will be taken away from you. People born into the Church have been given a great blessing by being placed in a position where it is easy to accept the restored gospel. Others are born into circumstances where it may be difficult for them to even find the Church in this life, and may pick up traditions that lead them to reject the message and be unable to progress. If you are a member of the Church, you’ve presumably progressed to a point where you are this close to making it into the Celestial Kingdom. Who knows how many eternities it has taken you to get to this point. Maybe God–and you–have way more invested in this than a mere couple years on an earth would suggest.

  112. RD on January 20, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Kudos to Rob and Geoff for their persistence here. They have responded to each question (and criticism) with a commendable measured tone.

    That said, where Joseph’s alleged plural wives and Brigham’s Adam-God beliefs potentially jive with my otherwise “traditional” Mormon foundations, I just can’t get my head around this MMP thing. Are Rob and Geoff representative of a large group of MMP believing Mormons? I’ve seen speculations on this in the past, but Rob and Geoff seem to have formulated a systematic belief in MMP that withstands (or at least responds to) critical analysis. Do those that believe in MMP have secret MMP meetings (e.g. general authorities) where they celebrate their deeper doctrinal understanding and the likelihood that this is their “last” mortal probation before winning the big prize?

    In that same vein, how about the doctrines of calling and election? Is one made sure only of his/her next probation? Or is calling an election that final, “I did it” moment that we are all looking for? (Anyone so invested in MMP surely has thought through calling and election).

    Are MMP advocates simply saying that those who don’t have access to temples in this “eternity” are in for a long haul of more “eternities” until God plants them in some eternity’s “Utah”.

    Also, someone asked up the thread somewhere how millenial doctrines fit in with MMP. I think that deserves a response. The millenial doctrines seem to cleanly answer, with more prophetic detail than the smattering of MMP quotes, how God plans to remedy our mortal missteps.

    Could it be that, given the nature of this “mortality’s” scripture and prophetic afterlife statements, that all of us earthlings are in the last mortal probation, that all of us have earned what we got here and will reap the reward in a final judgment, having a perfect knowledge of “all our guilt” including that from other lives (tries)?

    I am not totally against MMP because I believe in a merciful God that sees a lot further than me. But I think we can be guilty of looking beyond the mark, too. Is there a chance that MMP is simply a false doctrine, speculated to by members of the early church, and disregarded by more modern prophets (like, say, blacks in the priesthood)?

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness–this is all interesting stuff.

  113. Seth Rogers on January 20, 2006 at 9:15 am

    Righteous works are not prerequisites for salvation. They are a side-effect of true conversion. Really, the only area our theology really differs from the Baptists is in our insistence on the receipt of proper ordinances through divine authority. These are the “works meet for repentance.”

    Here’s just one example of the kind of thinking that I see implicit in your model:

    1. I’m not currently as loving in my conversation with my children as I ought to be.

    2. During this life I can work to improve on that (or not).

    3. When I die, the degree of lovingness I have acheived will be preserved.

    4. I will be judged, and if I haven’t attained a proper degree of “loving conversation,” I will be sent to another probationary period to “see if I can get it right this time.” If however, I have acheived the proper benchmark, I now get my get-into-exhaltation pass.

    5. Otherwise, repeat steps 1-4 on a different planet.

    I know I’m being trite here, but it sounds rather like a video game where you get to save your progress each time before you turn the game off. I don’t use that example to mock your views (which have been endorsed by some of the world’s great thinkers), but to illustrate the linear setup, and protagonistic nature of the MMP model.

    The problem is that Christ’s Atonement was meant to skip much of the steps outlined above. The MMP model seems to marginalize the need for an Atonement in the first place.

    Now, I suspect that you are trying to be inclusive of the need for the Atonement by shifting the model to say “you need multiple chances to fully accept Christ’s Atonement.”

    But this misses the point of the Fall of Adam. Belief in Christ focuses around the idea that, since the Fall of Adam, nobody ever gets it right in anything (including accepting Christ). All works done by mortal humans, no matter how praiseworthy, are done in some degree of corruption or unrighteousness.

    Try as we might, we only succeed in digging ourselves deeper and deeper with each breath we take. We are simply INCAPABLE OF EVER GETTING AHEAD IN ANYTHING.

    This is why the Atonement, with its accompanying ordinances and repentance is necessary.

    This is why I don’t think anyone needs more than one chance. Multiple test runs wouldn’t really help matters anyway.

  114. jjohnsen on January 20, 2006 at 10:19 am

    Alright Geoff and Rob, you’ve convinced me. I think I was just looking for a reason to skip Sacrament meeting this Sunday.

    “I just can’t get my head around this MMP thing. Are Rob and Geoff representative of a large group of MMP believing Mormons? I’ve seen speculations on this in the past, but Rob and Geoff seem to have formulated a systematic belief in MMP that withstands (or at least responds to) critical analysis. Do those that believe in MMP have secret MMP meetings (e.g. general authorities) where they celebrate their deeper doctrinal understanding and the likelihood that this is their “lastâ€? mortal probation before winning the big prize?

    I was wondering about this also. Honestly this was the first I had ever heard of MMP(I must have glossed over earlier posts about it).

  115. Jonathan Stone on January 20, 2006 at 11:06 am

    I’m not following how sealings fit in to the MMP model. How can I be with my spouse in a future mortal probation?

  116. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Seth–
    Calling and election: My understanding is that you can reach a certain stage in this life where you can be actually anointed a Priest and King (or Priestess and Queen). After that, unless you commit the unpardonable sin, you are assured a place in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. There you will be resurrected and inseparably connected to your Celestial body, and be able to organize spiritual progeny. You have attained exaltation. You are in. Congratulations.

    But perhaps there is more if you want it. You can choose to condescend and return to another earth in the role of Savior. After you do that, you attain an even higher exaltation. Not sure exactly what that entails, but reading D&C 88, there seems to be some sort of metaphysical thing that happens that increases your connection to the universe, so that you become “in and through all things”.

    Perhaps we haven’t been told much about that level of attainment, because we can’t achieve it in this eternity. It would be like telling a kindergardener about taking PhD qualifying exams–not very useful. However, we seem to be given hints here and there, such as D&C 130 where we are told that once we have made it to the Celestial Kingdom, recieved our own Urim and Thummim, etc. there will still be higher orders of kingdoms above our celestialized earth.

    When you take Joseph Smith’s final couple of talks (KFD, etc) and start looking at what eternal progression actually means, it just seems to be much, much more than the My Turn on Earth model forcasts for us. Not that MTOE is wrong…just a tad oversimplified. I don’t think any of us should have a problem with that–we are supposed to gain in knowledge line upon line, and MTOE is still miles ahead of where most Christian religions are in their understanding of the Plan of Salvation. But just because a 3rd grader can understand it, doesn’t mean that’s all there is to the matter.

    But Seth, I think we have a miscommunication going on, or perhaps a diffence in understanding in our definition of salvation. Salvation just means to be resurrected to a kingdom of glory. People in Telestial Kingdoms are saved. They have overcome death through the atonement, and are able to bask in the light of the Holy Ghost. People in a Terestrial State get to recieve the ministring of Christ. CK residents get even more opportunities for service, etc. They are all saved. All you have to do for that is to acknowledge Christ–”every knee will bow” etc. It may take some people a thousand years in “spirit prison” to come to terms with that, but eventually, everyone is saved.

    But that isn’t the ultimate goal according to the restored gospel. The restored gospel has as its goal the exaltation of people–getting them to the highest level of the CK. That is something the Baptists–or most other Christian religions–consider possible. Thats why they have the film “The God Makers”–they hate our saying we can become gods. So, I think there is a big difference there. Salvation–OK, everybody goes to “heaven”. Exaltation–that’s something else.

    What we’re talking about here with MMP, is that a) intelligences cleave unto intelligence, and grow in capacity. Some maybe do it quicker than others. Some may take time off from progressing. The way to progress is to obtain a body and have a mortal experience. Not sure exactly how that works, of course, but that’s how we really grow and progress. Seems to be something about having a body that is either a) a test of what we have learned elsewhere in some disembodied state or b) the only way we can learn certain lessons. I would guess its a combination of a and b. At any rate, think about all the things your spirit or intelligence has to be able to do to read this message–maintain balance, digest food, process visual information, etc. Most of that you do without thinking. Why is that? Is it because you’ve got some great DNA going on there–or because you have an intelligence that has learned to be able to control the matter and systems of a complex vertebrate body, probably step by step, over aeons of time on other worlds?

    So, maybe that was your past. Learning everything, and taking tests, to get to where you are now. You’ve proven yourself in the past (“The First Estate” in the MTOE model, in MMP in this view), and now your next possible step is to make it to the CK as an exalted being. Everyone born on the earth right now can potentially make it there. But realistically, there are huge variations in human capacity for such a thing. Many people recoil at the thought of eternal posterity. That’s OK. We give them the chance, here in this life, or in the spirit world, and they accept all the truth and light they are able to. Then they get a judgement. But they are given future opportunities to grow. They can learn more, but to prove that they got the lesson down, they’ll have to take a test–another mortal probation.

    Does it make you tired? Maybe that’s why Eastern religions go to great lengths to talk about the promise of Nirvana. The ability to progress to a point where you can get off the wheel. I’m not sure how that works, but at least from what we’ve been told at this point in our progression, if we can obtain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, we won’t ever have to do it again. We won’t have to, but some of us may want to, in order to progress even further.

    I don’t see how this negates the importance of the Fall or the Atonement. Those are just eternally persistent aspects of mortal realities. You fall each time and need an Atonement to redeem you, to pull you back out, to keep you from becoming lost and captured by the forces of destruction each time.

    I think the real difference in our thinking has to do with grace. According to the MTOE model, and perhaps other Christian theologies–the grace of God is sufficient to take us mortal weaklings and transform us, perhaps in a mere 70+ years of mortality and 1,000 years of graduate training during the Millennium, into someone who can create universes. Some folks would say it takes even less time than that, that God is going to work this transformation instantly for those who accept Jesus. The MMP view is that this is not really the way God works. If it was, he could have made us that way in the first place. According to the teachings of Joseph Smith, how it really works is that God sets up laws and worlds to give eternal intelligences the chance to grow and progress. He has to work with their capabilities. He can’t just take a pumpkin and turn it into a god. It takes long periods of time, multiple eternities, for intelligences to progress to the point where they can even understand what it means to be a god. That’s just the way it is, the way the universe works. This is a huge gap between LDS and traditional Christian metaphysics. Huge. Of course, we may not emphasize it in our missionary discussions, or even our public meetings very often, but there it is. Its deep down there in our scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. And many Christians note this, and hate it, that’s part of why there are so many anti-Mormon websites out there. They just don’t buy any of this.

    So, the real question is…what is the nature of reality? Can God just make us into a being like himself if we comply with a couple ordinances, or does it take that, plus a lot more. And what about animals who don’t have ordinances? What of their eternal existence? Is it just their bad luck that they were created as animals, rather than as spirit children of God?

    As for secret MMP meetings…if there are any, I haven’t been invited to any ;) Most of this just comes from trying to think through these things, mostly alone, but sometimes in settings like this, and a couple times with a General Authority who had similar ideas. Really, there probably isn’t enough time for meetings, or probably even blogging, since we’ve all got too much to do to make our callings and election sure!

  117. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 11:49 am

    Jonathan,
    What does being sealed for “time and all eternity” mean? I won’t pretend to know, but seems like you’re promised to be together after this life, for at least the duration of this eternity. As for your relationship in any future eternities, well, I haven’t found anything about that. As Obi-Wan might say, search your feelings. I suspect that eternal marriage may mean something a bit different than what we think it means.

  118. A Nonny Mouse on January 20, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    Rob (#117): I suspect that eternal marriage may mean something a bit different than what we think it means.

    Geoff J (#84) And it may very well be that if MMP is true that the meaning of such proxy work is not exactly what we commonly think it is.

    I believe these two statements kind of underscore the biggest problem with this whole version of the MMP framework. You see, we believe that the meaning of eternal marriage means “for ever and ever” because that’s what Joseph, Brigham and Heber all taught, emphatically and repeatedly, that if sealed in by proper priesthood authority, you can be with your spouse forever after this life. We believe that proxy work allows us to be “Saviors on Mount Zion” and give the opportunity to others to receive the ordinances they didn’t normally have in this life because Joseph, Brigham and Heber (and Orson and Wilford and Joseph F. Smith and…) taught us that. Not because we have some cultural predisposition to believe it, but because we believe in prophets and we know that this is what they taught. We do proxy ordinances so those that didn’t have a chance to receive the gospel in this life could get it before the resurrection. That’s the point of proxy work, not because we made some assumption, or because we liberally interpreted one or two verses of scripture, but because all of the early Mormon Fathers of the Church taught these doctrines plainly and repeatedly.

    It basically seems like you’re stretching the meaning of the restored gospel waaaay beyond the limits of interpretation in order to accomodate a theory that you’ve basically synthesized yourself by adding a whole lot of speculation to 3 or 4 vague statements that could be possibly construed to imply the possiblity of somebody (1 or 2 people really, Adam and Eve, Jesus and Satan) more than one chance on an earth. It’s not that I think MMP wasn’t implied or isn’t possible, it’s that the way you guys have constructed it here in this particular forum has so many loopholes and inconsistencies and things that make no sense (which is the burden of proof that you use here for decrying the “one chance to get it right” doctrine).

    So, I ask you, if I have a framework which works and which was actually taught openly and consistently by prophets/apostles etc. from the early Mormon Fathers forward, why do I need to accept another framework which flies in the face of those other teachings which is based on sheer speculation?

  119. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    More food for thought. Admittedly, it could maybe be interpreted either way as to MMP, but interesting to ponder.

    “Divine Intelligences bring into existence worlds and world systems, sustain and guide them through immense cycles of time, and through processes that lead from chaos, from telestial to celestial…and so the eternal drama proceeds. Intelligences meanwhile standing indestructible amidst this organization and disorganization of worlds, this integrating and disintegrating of things. This movement is from lower to higher estates, from little to greater excellences; yet this without attaining to “highest” or “perfect,” because, to repeat, advancement in the infinite knows no ultimates. Meanwhile intelligences amid these changes, under the law of eternal progress, are ever increasing in power, glory, might, dominion, benevolence, charity, justice, and all else that can make for the increase of their power and glory.” (B.H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the church of Jesus christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:393)

  120. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    Nonny Mouse–
    I haven’t said anything to contradict what the prophets have taught–or even your statement above. I’m not denying that you can be together with your spouse forever and ever–if that even makes any sense living like a God in a place where time isn’t measured (that may be a place where Geoff and I may have different views). But look at the real wording–sometimes maybe we assume too much when we use the word eternal. As the Lord has told us, “eternal” doesn’t always mean “forever”–it means like God. If you are sealed for “time and all eternity”–then what is important is to understand what we mean here. If there are multiple eternities, and Joseph seemed to believe that there were, then the language is important and we shouldn’t too loosely interpret it beyond what it the scriptures and ordinances promise.

    And proxy work is indespensible to make sure everyone gets a chance to progress during this mortal probation. Its just that not everyone is going to take advantage of that opportunity, and MMP gives them additional chances to continue their eternal (“godlike”) progression.

    So, to be perfectly clear. MMP is compatible with marriage for time and all eternity. And proxy work is indespensible as well. There is no inconsistency on these two points.

  121. A Nonny Mouse on January 20, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Rob: #120 So, to be perfectly clear. MMP is compatible with marriage for time and all eternity. And proxy work is indespensible as well. There is no inconsistency on these two points.

    Except on the “make sense” level. Geoff, above, gave this reason as one of the principle reasons why he likes MMP:
    It helps me understand why some are given great spiritual opportunities whereas others are born in times or places that give zero chance for learning about Christianity let alone restored Christianity.

    The inconsistency here, is that in the multiple mortal probations model there’s no need to receive the ordinances in this life if you didn’t get the chance. You just get another chance next time. Most if not all of the statements you guys have quoted in the comments from folks like BH Roberts and Orson Pratt are completely compatible with (and in fact were probably intended to be viewed in the context of) a model where much progression occurs after mortal probation, but before exaltation. The simple fact is that the straw man of “going straight from resurrection to Godhood” that you’re trying to burn here has really never been preached from the pulpit or believed by anybody… There’s always the notion that there will be much that happens between the time that we’re resurrected and the time of our exaltation.

  122. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Nonny Mouse,
    I think this whole idea of being able to just wait for the next eternity is the reason that this isn’t taught in the Church. Despite the blowing off an eternity would be incomprehensibly stupid, due to how much progress we’ve made already just to get this far, some people might get the idea that they can just blow it all off for an eternity. They already have trouble procrastinating their repentance.

    First off, God has to be fair and give everyone a chance each time they have a mortal probation, because, Secondly, Eternity is an incredibly long time–and it wouldn’t be fair to make someone wait that long, and place their eternal progress in jeopardy all over again, just because there is a second bus coming later. Yeah, there’s another bus coming, but you’ll miss this concert if you don’t take this bus. Meanwhile, by the time next eternity comes along, everyone who made it to the this concert will have moved on to other concerts.

    Joseph Smith seemed to teach that we could never recieve the same glory as Christ without passing through the same experience He did. Some have taken that to mean that we can NEVER attain the same glory he has now, that we are fundamentally different. Others think that we’ll be given another chance to experience the same thing. If Joseph was right, there isn’t much room for the “we’ll just pick it up everything else we need in the Spirit World or after we’re resurrected” idea. We’ll have to have another turn on earth if we want to really be like Christ, and His Father.

  123. Jonathan Stone on January 20, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    I have to agree with A Nonny Mouse here. The MMP model described converts doctrines that have been taught very clearly by prophets from Joseph Smith through to today (like eternal marriage and proxy work) into things that are incomprehensible, all because of a few quotes by early church leaders that can be interpreted different ways.

    To suggest that eternal marriage means that my wife will be my wife for this eternity, but that we will later be born to another mortal life where she and I will both marry different people for some other eternity, would also imply that prophets have been deliberately deceptive or outright liars from Joseph Smith onward.

  124. A Nonny Mouse on January 20, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    Jonathon Stone (123): …would also imply that prophets have been deliberately deceptive or outright liars from Joseph Smith onward.

    I don’t know that it suggests that the prophets have been deliberatley deceptive, but it does point out really, really big inconcisitencies in their own views of the gospel if they preached both things, which the MMPers here are claiming they did.

  125. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    I’m at a loss to figure out why this is so whole MMP thing is so hard to understand? I’m tempted to repeat Joseph Smith’s crack about hemlock knots and pumpkins here. Really, all we’re saying here is that maybe eternity is a little more complicated than designing worlds for dinosaurs and having spirit babies forever. That eternal progression is something much bigger than we normally talk about. For you MTOE folks out there, answer me this:

    Where have you been forever as an eternal being?
    What are you going to do forever once you leave here?
    Tell me what D&C 130 is talking about when it mentions orders of kingdoms higher than the Celestial Kingdom?

    My cousin used to like to imagine God walking around with a little garden shovel planting the garden of Eden. Nice idea, but pretty simplistic. The MTOE view doesn’t give us much more than that. It just doesn’t seem realistic at all. I submit that MTOE is a cartoon version of eternal progression, and that MMP gives a much fuller view of how God works and our relation to him as co-eternal progressing intelligences.

    And to say that the prophets have been deliberately deceptive is your claim, not mine. I submit that eternal progression is more complicated than we write in our correlated curriculum materials. So what? Creation is far more complicated than Genesis 1-3, but that doesn’t make Moses deceptive. I’m with Brigham Young when I say that what we have there is baby stories, fit for people who are just starting out.

    MTOE as we teach it is pretty much understandable by any six year old–just like a cartoon. Maybe there’s more to it than that?

    Joseph Smith said that the things of eternity take long, deep pondering to understand. MTOE doesn’t take much to understand. MMP or no, I think eternity is much more complicated, much more exciting, and takes a bit more time to understand than MTOE gives it credit for.

  126. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Looks like I missed some fun. I’ll try to catch up a bit…

    RD (#112): Do those that believe in MMP have secret MMP meetings

    Ha! Actually I don’t remember ever crossing paths with Rob before this thread. It seems to me that he and I both independently looked at the revelations (starting especially with the King Follet Discourse for me) pondered on them, studied up, and came to strikingly similar conclusions about how to reconcile them into a model of eternity that makes sense. The fact that our independent conclusions are so similar is encouraging to me. The fact that we seem to be agreeing with 19th century Mormon spiritual giants also encourages me.

    Seth (#113): I largely am in agreement with Rob’s response to you. It seems you are in the increasingly popular near-Baptist camp of Mormonism. I am not. In fact I have railed against things like “The Parable of the Bicycle” in the last year. See here for my grace vs. works views and views on the atonement. I think this neo-grace movement in the church misreads the revelations.

  127. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    Jonathan Stone (#115): How can I be with my spouse in a future mortal probation?

    I part ways with Rob on this one regarding the “this eternity” stuff. I think that once we are sealed to our spouses it is for all eternity to come. However, I also think that Mormons think they are sealed when they only have a conditional promise of a seal. The terms clearly state that we only receive the fullness of the blessings if we fully live up to everything we promise to do. That means that we must live the law of consecration. It is incomprehensible to me that so many Mormons say things like “we are not required the live the law of consecration right now”. That is just incorrect. We may not be living the United Order, but the law of consecration does not require a United Order. My point is that sealings do last forever, but I wonder how many of us will actually keep our covenants in this life. (I do agree with him that there may be more to the unity of a couple’s sealing than we know however…)

    Rob (#116): Nice work. BTW – I think RD was the one asking about calling and election made sure rather than Seth.

  128. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    A Nonny Mouse (#118) — I agree that proxy work is indispensable in the restored gospel. There are obviously details we don’t know about how it all works no matter what model of eternity we are using. I think one thing that is certain is that covenants need to be made and kept for the blessings to be given from God. I think the covenants are not about what we will get, but rather what we become. That is why I don’t know why MMP has much to do with it. Whether we become like Christ in future mortal probations or through some other future model, we still need to do so one way or the other. Again, exaltation is not about what we get, it is about what we are.

    (As another speculation… If MMP is a correct model then proxy work and the making and keeping of covenants in the spirit world could have something to do with foreordination in mortal probations too. Maybe when spirits in prison keep many but not all of the covenants that we help them make by proxy they join the “noble and great ones” of the next probation. And maybe those that keep them all do become exalted there — though D&C 76 seems to imply otherwise…)

    Rob (#120): Yep, I think the idea of timelessness is an unfortunate Platonic stowaway in the theology of too many Mormons. I’ve dealt with that at some length at the Thang too.

  129. C Jones on January 20, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I just can’t get past thinking that MMP dilutes or weakens the doctrine of the atonement.
    The atonement of Christ is the clear central message of the Book of Mormon. The B of M calles it an infinite atonement. It seems like if MMP were a true model, the scriptures could be seen as pulling a bit of a bait and switch. “Yeah, sure the prophets say it’s an infinite atonement, but they aren’t really telling us everything…”
    Lehi speaks of “threescore and ten” years (or however many years we each may be given) as the probationary period meant to give us an opportunity to exercise agency. Thereafter, our hope is in Christ and in his infinite atonement, and not in multiple do-overs.

  130. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    Oh yeah…

    A Nonny Mouse (#118): why do I need to accept another framework [MMP] which flies in the face of those other teachings which is based on sheer speculation?

    You don’t. In fact you can completely ignore this whole idea/model and write anyone that leans toward it off as loonies if you’d like.

  131. Veritas on January 20, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Geoff J…for the most part ive been skimming all this and kinda rolling my eyes at some of your comments, but there is one thing I want to emphasize you have said that I think is awesome:

    “The terms clearly state that we only receive the fullness of the blessings if we fully live up to everything we promise to do. That means that we must live the law of consecration. It is incomprehensible to me that so many Mormons say things like “we are not required the live the law of consecration right nowâ€?. That is just incorrect. We may not be living the united order, but the law of consecration does not require a United Order”

    AMEN! I have brought this up various times around these crazy boards (what AM i doing here geez…) and usually get a pretty angry reception. Anyways…just wanted to threadjack as the MMP stuff is giving me a headache…lets discuss something that is useful to us in our progression…

  132. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    Rob (#125): Good analogies. I’d agree that creedal Christianity’s heaven/hell dichotomy is like nursery level, the My Turn on Earth model is like 1st grade, and MMP is like third grade. We have a long way to go still, but I’ll take what I can get in terms of details.

  133. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    C Jones (#129),

    I guess I need to understand what your assumptions about the atonement are to be able to respond fully to your comment. I see no reason why an MMP model would affect the atonement as I understand it.

    Also, I’m not familiar with the “threescore and ten” comment you are referring to — can you explain?

    Veritas (#131),

    I’m glad I’m not alone in that idea about consecration. I agree that such issues are crucial to our spiritual progression. I am just the type that needs to try to understand the big picture and before I can motivate myself to getting down to the nitty gritty details. It’s one of those “begin with the end in mind” things for me. Only after I am comfortable with my map am I able to press foward on a journey at full speed ahead and without reservations. (My own peculiar quirk I guess). In this case I am working on my map of eternity (even though I have been pressing forward on the journey in the meantime).

  134. Seth Rogers on January 20, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    Well, I suppose I have to say it …

    I really don’t like “My Turn on Earth.” I”m not sure I’d characterize myself that way. Why do you guys get a nice scholarly acronym and I’m stuck here named after a peice of Mormon kitsch?

    I think the problem lies with how we each view our essential identity. You seem to be saying that all the “cosmic learning” is going to happen after death.

    I’m saying it has already happened. I’m saying that we’ve forgotten more than we’ll ever learn in 100 mortal probations.

    The point of this go-round is to make a fundamental decision about where our infinite allegiances lie. Are we in this together or not? That’s the big question.

    If not, the lower kingdoms are available. But if yes, then who knows how far we can go? I really don’t know how post-mortality is structured. So I can’t say what God’s program is for the future exhaltation program. But I don’t think it involves multiple bouts of mortality similar to this one, with a new Savior each time.

    I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of each of us getting a chance to “be a Savior.” Christ occupies a rather singular place in our cosmos. Mormons have already “downgraded” Christ from “the same thing as God” to “an exhalted Brother.” I can live with that. But I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that he is “just one of us and we’ll all get our turn eventually.” This seems to take Him out of the realm of deity altogether and I’m not going to go that far.

    If that makes me a Baptist-Mormon,” so be it (although it’s kind of ironic considering some of the hostile stuff I’ve said about Evangelical Christianity in general on a couple occasions).

    That said, this conversation is awfully complex and I’m not really sure that we really aren’t just talking past each other.

  135. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks Seth,

    I don’t get the feeling there is a lot of talking past each other in this conversation. Sure there are some fundamental disagreements, but at least I think we mostly understand one another.

    As for the cosmic learning thing — I want to make it clear that I don’t think the challenge is what we know or not. I think the entire issue is what we are. What our fundamental character is like. The question is are we like God or not? If not, are we using our free agency to choose to become more like God or not? In other words, are we repenting? We can’t do that without God’s guidance and encouragement (which he graciously gives us) but he can’t change us without our choices to repent either.

    Of course another way to look at it is to say it’s not what we know but rather who we know. The “who” in this case is God. Do we know him personally or not? This paradigm is essentially the same as the “what we are” paradigm though because we can’t know God unless we are essentially like him. And the process of becoming like him always eventually includes personal revelation from him anyway.

    In any case, repentance is the order of the day no matter what map of the eternities we are using. If we don’t repent even the atonement won’t fundamentally change who and what we are. We can know some things about God without repenting, but we can’t know God without repenting.

  136. Jonathan Stone on January 20, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Geoff,

    I’ll echo Veritas in complete agreement with your statement about consecration. I have made exactly the same statement on more than a few occasions as people have confused the United Order with consecration.

    I guess my point is this: if sealings are not truly eternal (meaning without end), then the prophets from Joseph Smith through Gordon B. Hinckely have either been intentionally leading the saints to believe something that isn’t true, or have been ignorant of the truth themselves. That principle is one of the key distinguishing features of the restored gospel.

    Also, one need not fulfill the covenants perfectly, since none of us are capable of it. That is why we have the Atonement.

    It appears to me, from my understanding of MMP as it has been explained, that future mortal probations would render eternal sealings rather meaningless. Would only those for whom this is the last mortal probation keep their spouse (like Abraham)? The rest of us, despite all the promises given, are out of luck, our sealings dissolved, and destined to find a new spouse in some other earth?

    I’m not saying we understand it all. Whether “My Turn On Earth” or MMP is correct, I think either are probably first-grade understandings. But I can’t see how this piece of doctrine that seems so central to the restoration, and which has been taught in such explicit terms, can fit into the MMP framework.

  137. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    Jonathan,

    Again I think sealings are truly eternal. I hope you caught that message in my previous comment.

    So then the question is who ends up sealed? Certainly not everyone that makes the covenants. The simple answer is that only those that keep the covenants end up sealed together forever as couples. Those are the people that are exalted. They (and this might be the part you missed) then are not part of any future MMPs (unless there is a chance they could condescend to help a future planet in a special role as Rob has mentioned). My thought is that Rob is right and all who do keep their covenants and are exalted are done with this portion of their eternal progression. Who knows what exaclty is next for them…

    But what about all those that don’t fully keep their covenants? (Of course, the judgment on who kept covenants fully and became what they needed to become is inthe Lord’s hands.) They had a promise of a sealing but did not do their part so the actual eternal seal didn’t come to pass. That is where the idea of progression between kingdoms comes in. MMPs is just one explanation of how progression between kingdoms could take place.

    Now perhaps you could say that the church’s messaging on how we will all be together forever as families is misleading. I don’t know that I would go that far. But I am certain of what the covenant says — that we will only be sealed if we keep all of our promises to the satisfaction of God.

  138. Rob on January 20, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Here’s the deal…when Joseph Smith taught about eternity, he took off his ring and said, esentially–’look, it has no begining and it has no end, it goes round and round. Anything that has a beginning will have an end. You, as an intelligent being had no beginning, and you will have no end.”

    That said, do our “eternal marriages” have a beginning? Maybe y’all have a different thing going on than I do, but there is one special day each year when I need to make sure I remember when our marriage began, or I’m in trouble!

    I believe the prophets when they teach that if we are sealed in the temple and live up to our covenants, I’ll be with my wife again after this life. But there are other scriptural definitions of “eternal” than “goes on forever”. I’m not pretending to say one way or the other here, but think it bears some solemn consideration.

  139. C Jones on January 20, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Geoff-
    The “threescore and ten years” came from something I remembered that Elder Holland said that I read recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the time to look it up, and although he was quoting Lehi in that particular paragraph, apparently those words are his own, or he is quoting something that he doesn’t reference. Sorry about that!

    He quotes 2 Nephi 2:30 where Lehi says he is “in the last days of my probation;” (emphasis by Elder Holland)
    Then he says, “That touching testimony- and indeed the entire sermon given us by Lehi- becomes more immediate when we realize that a general doctrine of probation for all mankind is reduced to a specific probationary period for each of us personally. Lehi skillfully brought what could be a rather abstract doctrine right down to the “threescore and ten years” ( or whatever we may be given) of a brief lifetime in which we must learn the gospel, exercise our agency in claiming it’s promises, and thereby take advantage of the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah.”

  140. Geoff J on January 20, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    Rob,

    Now you are getting into the bigger metaphysical problems of eternity… As I’m sure you know that is a much larger and more difficult issue than MMPs or any other model of eternity.

    C Jones,

    That is a good quote, but I don’t think it has much bearing on whether there have been or will be other mortal probations for humankind…

  141. Jonathan Stone on January 21, 2006 at 8:12 am

    Geoff,

    But sealings are eternal not just those who keep their covenants perfectly. It is also eternal to those who repent of any covenant-breaking, using the Atonement to wash clean their sins. So, far from only applying to those who have reached some pinnacle state of MMP progression, the blessings are available to all who look to Christ and repent with sincerity.

    And what is the purpose of sealing the dead? Obviously sealings can last for eternity even for those who did not have the gospel in this life. For them, presumably, there is not another mortal probation.

    So there is some convergence between MTOE and MMP: those who would go to the Celestial Kingdom in the MTOE model will similarly avoid further MPs in the MMP model (otherwise family sealings would be violated). So future mortal probations would only be for the Terrestrial and Telestial types.

    Is this what you are saying?

  142. Geoff J on January 21, 2006 at 11:45 am

    Jonathan,

    We may be having a definition problem regarding “keeping covenants”… I consider repenting of covenant breaking the same as keeping covenants perfectly. The covenants are designed to change who we fundamentally are, so if we become who God wants us to become, the covenant has done its job. (Meaning stumbles along the way won’t matter if we repent.) However, there is no denying that the promise of a seal is a conditional one. We are fooling ourselves if we think we will be sealed to our spouses for all eternity without holding up are part of the bargain. Since consecration is one of the things we agree to, and since we never seem to talk about consecration, I wonder if we are fooling ourselves more than we realize. (But who knows? Maybe a large portions of the saints are sufficiently consecrating to the building up of Zion to be permanently sealed after all..)

    I think exaltation means joining with our spouses and with God in a perfect unity. Quite literally, I think it means joining the Godhead in one degree or another. Therefore the sealings with our extended family would simply connect us more with them in future probations. We are unified with God and have special bonds with them. We have a loving and vested interest in their progress to join into a perfect unity with God also. (Ever wonder why we know so little about the office/role of Holy Ghost? Maybe this concept has something to do with it.) So receiving the ordinances is not the same as receiving the conditional promised blessings for our kindred dead either. But if we do into a perfect loving unity and relationship with God we will not suddenly forget our kindred dead here. We will do anything in our power to encourage their repentance and change in the probations to come.

    As for the convergence — I would say that yes, those that are exalted no longer must have future mortal probations. My guess is that the exception would be volunteer assignments like the condescension of Christ from his Godhood to save us here. (This may apply to the mortal roles of Adam and Eve as well… who knows?) But I think that exaltation refers to the highest level of the Celestial kingdom (and I think the three kingdoms breakdown is probably symbolic of a continuum anyway.)

  143. A Nonny Mouse on January 21, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    Geoff J, #142 I think the three kingdoms breakdown os probably symbolic of a continuum anyway

    But, Joseph and other “19th century Mormon Spiritual Giants” clearly taught this was not the case… I don’t mean to be pedantic here, but I just want to point out one more time (and then I promise I’ll leave it alone) what I see as being the biggest problem with this framework: we’re cherry picking in our interpretation of what the Early Mormon Church Fathers (EMCF) taught, relatively arbitrarily. If something doesn’t agree with our viewpoint of the framework, it was meant “only symbolically” or was something that “we/they/somebody doesn’t understand fully” or it “means something different than we think it means.” I don’t think you can take all of the quotes you (Geoff) and Rob have been using as the basis for your framework (over-?)literally and then say that things like the 3 degrees of glory aren’t literal without providing a lot more justification than you do. Once again, it’s not that I don’t like the principles or I think they weren’t taught, I’m just very, very wary of the way you’re arriving at your conclusions. By building on such shaky foundations, it’s possible you could topple your model completely.

  144. Rob on January 21, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Jonathan,
    I’m probably a little bit more open than Geoff to the role of future MMP in the eternal progression of those who recieve exaltation in the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. The hope of becoming an Adam or Eve on a future world was a big part of the faith for Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others. Again, it may be that such experiences are “voluntary” as Geoff says, but I think they are necessary at some point if one wants to follow in the footsteps of the gods that have gone before.

    If we look at the creation drama, we have God the Supervisor (Elohim), God the Creation Team Leader (Jehovah), and God (or Archangel if you will) the Creator of His New Mortal Home (Michael). I believe the thought was that we could each progress in future MMP by moving from one role to the other up this hierarchy.

    If you’re worried about what happens to your eternal marriage in future MMP, remember that Brigham Young taught that Adam brought one of his sealed and resurrected wives (Eve) with him to this earth. It may be that an eternal marriage is absolutely necessary for us if we want to take the next step and become the father and mother of all living as an Adam or Eve of our own earth next time around.

  145. Rob on January 21, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    A Nonny Mouse,
    I think there are real Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial planets. We have been taught that the fallen earth is currently a Telestial world. In the Millenium, it will become a Terestrial World. After that, it will become celestialized as described in D&C 130. As far as we know, there aren’t any Celestial beings on our planet right now–just hordes of people living Telestial laws, many living good Terestrial lives, and some aspiring, but usually failing to live Celestial lives. The Atonement will quicken all of us so that we can recieve a fullness of the light that we are currently striving to live by. I’m not sure if there are Telestial or Terestrial worlds that persist forever…it may be that planets only stay at those levels until they can be celestialized. Haven’t read much about that, except the idea that after this world is celestialized, those who can’t abide that glory will have to go live on some other world.

  146. Geoff J on January 21, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Nonny Mouse (#143): But, Joseph and other “19th century Mormon Spiritual Giants� clearly taught this was not the case…

    I’d say that either you misunderstood me or you are simply wrong. I see nothing in the revelations that insists that the kingdoms must be discreet and separated rather than representative of a continuum of glory/intelligence (as taught in Abraham 3). In fact, after the three general kingdoms were described later revelations mentioned at least three divisions within the Celestial kingdom. Are you saying that there could not be more gradation than the sun, moon, stars language of the scriptures?

  147. Seth Rogers on January 21, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    I’ll say it again.

    Can’t we come up with a better title for the position than “My Turn on Earth?”

  148. Jonathan Stone on January 22, 2006 at 11:24 am

    I think the best name would be “Single Mortal Probation”. The SMP model doesn’t prohibit prior or subsequent probations. While Geoff’s describes the most traditional view, there could be many other more complex descriptions of progression that shared the concept of a single mortal probation, followed by a permanent resurrection. (I would even go so far as to say that the Single Mortal Probation approach could still permit special exceptions for mortal non-probations).

    After all, calling it Single Mortal Probation seems to really highlight the point of conflict between the two theories.

  149. Jonathan Stone on January 22, 2006 at 11:27 am

    Sorry, I didn’t finish the though. Single Mortal Probation doesn’t prohibit prior or subsequent probations, just prior or subsequent mortal probations.

  150. A Nonny Mouse on January 22, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    Jonathan Stone, #149: Single Mortal Probation doesn’t prohibit prior or subsequent probations, just prior or subsequent mortal probations.

    I think that is the key added interpretation that Geoff and Rob are adding to all of their early mormon sources, the Mortal part. Particularly to the BH Roberts quote, the fact that this improvement and growing happens in a “mortal sphere” involving, one assumes, another birth, different family relationships, etc.

  151. Rob Osborn on January 23, 2006 at 1:17 am

    The whole MMP model fails completely according to revelation and scripture. There is only one probation needed, and that is to receive a body and continue learning. The two lower kingdoms are designed to advance and teach those who were not as valiant as the Celestial heirs. The temple shows us the template ( temple) for the eternal progression of man. God’s children whom he saves into Telestial and Terrestrial states are not meant to stagnate forever in that glory, that is why after resurrection and assignment to rewarded glories, we will be in position to learn and progress as will be instructed to us from a higher glory. Upon obedience to higher laws and covenants we will receive the blessings which come from living the higher laws until as such a time comes when we will be introduced into a higher kingdom just like the temple teaches us.

    There will not be a need to be born again physically to another earth after resurrection. All those who believe in Christ, are baptised for a remission of sins, and receive the Holy Ghost will be able to receive all of the Temple blessings performed in their behalf as they are worthy of them at some future date in eternity. God cannot withold a blessing from someone who is willing to live it. Neither does God not allow Telestial and Terrestrial heirs to learn and live a higher set of laws if they so choose to do so.

    Just because I have been annointed to receive the all Celestial blessings may not mean that I will receive all of them upon resurrection and then immediately have God status. I have to learn line upon line, little by little, and then at some distant date in eternity will the blessings that I have been promised and annointed to receive will come to fruitation.

    The process for being saved into any degree of glory takes a lot of faith and good works. But once a person has had that mighty change of heart they seek no more to do what is wrong, instead they want to serve others and be Christ-like. Even Telestial heirs will not be happy unless they are given the chance to live by a higher standard. There is a reason angels are appointed them in their condition, it is to teach them so that they too can advance and progress and at some future day, receive all of the blessings that they have been anointed for ( by proxy) as is taught in the temples.

  152. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 11:30 am

    Rob Osborn–thanks for sharing your testimony of MTOE. Looks like you have strong feelings about that. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. While most of what you say is true, I don’t believe your account does justice to the nature of mortal probations or the nature of eternal progression. I’m sure most people in the Church would believe everything you say, and you are certainly free to do so. But MTOE does not answer any of the questions that MMP does–so it fails as being a limited model of eternal progression. Despite your contention, MMP does not “fail completely according to revelation and scripture”–in fact, it is much more powerful of a model if you want to look at the nature of eternal progression and our history as progressing eternal intelligences. What it does do, is go beyond the Valiant B version of the plan of salvation that we all learned as kids, to show us that

    Rob O, this may fly in the face of your current understanding…but nothing in your post shows me that you’ve even considered these possibilities. I think you will find, upon further consideration, that most of what you said will fit in the MMP model…with the added bonus that MMP can answer questions about our past and future eternal progression that MTOE just doesn’t ever address.

    a) the whole purpose of mortal probations is more than to just get a body, like a car, that we can drive forever–bodies allow us to learn to control matter, and we have to learn that line upon line, from grace to grace. It is a lot harder, and a much longer process than we give it credit for in the MTOE model.
    b) intelligences are eternal–there is more to it than just we were some fuzzy intelligence fog that got turned into spirit children of God some day, just because he wanted to have some kids. We, and all living things, are eternal and we’ve been progressing, learning how to become more capable of controlling matter and acting, rather than being acted upon. We have learned these lessons over aeons of time, through multiple eternities–the only way to really learn is to have a chance to do it.
    c) eternal life is more than just getting to the Celestial Kingdom. While that may well be our goal at this stage in our eternal progression–that isn’t the end. That isn’t even the main goal. The goal isn’t to live with God forever, it is to be like Him. We can’t do enough in this life, even with the atonement, to qualify us for a fulness of his Glory. We’ll still have more lessons to learn, and it will take performing additional acts, on other worlds, before we have it all down.
    d) there are no short-cuts. There is no efffective death-bed repentance. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We have to learn to BE like God. It isn’t enough to just want to be like him, we have to prove ourselves able to do what he does. In this life, we can’t do that. But in future lives, we will be able to take what we’ve learned so far, and be able to accomplish even more.

    I know this flies in the face of the view that once we get to the CK, its all done. We’ll be there forever creating spirit babies and making earths. You’re free to believe that if you wish, but it is a very simplistic view, that in my mind, does not reflect the true nature of eternal reality as well as the MMP model.

  153. Geoff J on January 23, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Rob Osborn,

    I certainly don’t begrudge you believing the MToE model. However I think you are wrong when you say the MMP model “fails completely according to revelation and scripture.” Sure it may fail according to your interpretation of scripture and revelation, but I’m not convinced you are interpreting correctly.

    Here is a question for you. What do you make of this couplet by president Snow?:

    ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.’ – Lorenzo Snow

    How literally should we take that? If God the Father used to be as we are then he was a mortal just like we are now. Then combine that with statements by Joseph that strongly imply that God the Father was also formerly a savior on a previous planet like Jesus was for us. That is at least two mortal probations for our Father. And if we can become as he is then how do you suppose we could do so by taking some different path?

    Now some have held that God the Father never was a full mortal like us — that he was only a savior like Jesus. But that requires bending the Lorenzo Snow teaching. Others have other interpretations too. But that is where the evidence has pointed me so far. MMP is the best fit for that evidence I think.

  154. Rob Osborn on January 23, 2006 at 11:42 am

    When we are resurrected we will die no more, we will possess that body forever, never to leave again. How does going down to another earth and receiving another body conform with this teaching?

    Actually, Eternal Life, which is wholly misunderstood in our religion, means an eternal state of spiritual life. Eternal life comes to all who accept Christ and his gospel. There are only two conditions for all of mankind at the final judgement- 1. Eternal life on the right hand and saved. 2. Eternal death on the left hand and cast out with devil.

    Through accepting Christ and being born again all glorious heirs are sons and daughters of God and through faithful continuance are heirs to all that the father hath.

  155. C Jones on January 23, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    #152 Rob
    I know I’m dense on this subject, but I can’t see where anything in your a-d list can’t also be explained with one mortal probation and subsequent learning experiences while in a resurrected body.

  156. Grasshopper on January 23, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    On the issue of “inseparably connected” body and spirit, there may be another interpretation that can be reconciled with MMP. Take a look at these quotes that use the term “inseparably connected” to refer to our mortal bodies and our spirits. What it seems to mean is that we cannot make a distinction between them, maybe somewhat like the salt and the water in saline are “inseparable”. Not that there is no way to separate them, but that they are so intimately connected that they become one.

    From Brigham Young:

    When there is not one particle of feeling in my heart to pray, shall I then say, I will not pray? No, but get down knees, bend yourselves upon the floor, and mouth, open; tongue, speak; and we will see what will come forth, and you shall worship the Lord God of Israel, even when you feel as though you could not say a word in His favor. That is the victory we have to gain; that is the warfare we have to wage. It is between the spirit and the body; they are inseparably connected. (JD 3:208)

    I told you here, some time ago, that the devil who tempted Eve, got possession of the earth, and reigns triumphant, has nothing to do with influencing our spirits, only through the flesh; that is a true doctrine. Inasmuch as our spirits are inseparably connected with the flesh, and, inasmuch as the whole tabernacle is filled with the spirit which God gave, if the body is afflicted, the spirit also suffers, for there is a warfare between the flesh and the spirit, and if the flesh overcomes, the spirit is brought into bondage, and if the spirit overcomes, the body is made free, and then we are free indeed, for we are made free by the Son of God. (JD 3:248)

    If you have been afflicted in spirit, and your minds are worn down, which they can be, so long as they are connected with the body, which is apt to wear out, reasonable recreation may be beneficial. The mind, being inseparably connected with this body, becomes tired: I acknowledge that mine does. (JD 6:147)

    It is very true that, through the fall, we are all prone to evil. It is also true that the spirit in man is also pure and holy upon its entrance into a tabernacle, and perfectly prepared to be influenced and receive instruction. Being united with the body, which was brought under condemnation through the fall, they are inseparably connected in a probation. And while they remain together, the spirit of evil, through the fall, has great power with the body; and the body, through its intimate connection, has great power with the spirit; and for this reason both are prone to evil. (JD 7:268)

    From John Taylor:

    Let us examine the Scriptures in relation to some things, and see what they say concerning man. “But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth it understanding.” We learn from this that there is a spirit in man in addition to this outward frame, to these hands, these eyes, this body, with all its powers, and appliances, and members; there is a spirit, an essence–a principle of the Almighty, if you please–a peculiar essence that dwells in this body, that seems to be inseparably connected therewith. (JD 11:76)

  157. Rob Osborn on January 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Geoff,

    First off, if we believe everything that has ever been said by the prophets to be absolute fact then our religion is in a world of trouble as just about all of them had their own idea and definition of the eternities. As far as Joseph Smith saying that God The Father was once a savior on another earth, that may or may not be correct. Even if it were correct, there is no application that justifies us as having 2 mortal probations. There is nowhere recorded in scripture that God or Jesus had 2 or more mortal probations.

    We must remember that once Christ cleanses us from our sins we are found spotless and not guilty. There is no reason to go out and try sometning again if we are already saved in the Kingdom of God which will happen to all glorious beings (Telestial, Terrestrial, Celestial)

    I think we put too much emphasis on what prophets say, whenever they speak, so much so that our doctrine of the gospel don’t even correlate with the scriptures anymore. Our latter day definitions of the whole plan of salvation and who it works for has gotten so jumbled up that just about every reference or teaching manual either contradicts the others or the scriptures themselves.

    What I am trying to say is that we should read, ponder, and pray, over the scriptures as revealed truth. As we do so, any of us have the same right to reveal hidden truths just as much as a prophet. All things spoken of by prophets should be judged against the scriptures. If it doesn’t hold up with them, then we can probably discount what has been said as mere opinion of a fine man.

  158. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    “All things spoken of by prophets should be judged against the scriptures. If it doesn’t hold up with them, then we can probably discount what has been said as mere opinion of a fine man.”

    Rob O, I understand why you would state this, and I’m sure many people believe this is the safest tack to take, but I’m not sure that it is really as clear as all that. There are lots of things that are true that aren’t in the scriptures–and lots of things in the scriptures aren’t as clearly true as some might believe–eg. Brigham Young clearly stated that God did not create Adam’s body out of the dust of the earth like an adobe brick, although many people have that idea from their reading of Genesis. The Old Testament is full of questionable history. The wonderous thing about the restored gospel is that it transcends the scriptures that the rest of the world has, and also gives us the promise of continual revelation. Since we haven’t added much to our own canon of scripture in the past 100 years, you have to either admit that a) we don’t get revelation in the Church much anymore, or b) we get lots of revelations that we haven’t written down in the scriptures. The fact that MMP is not as clearly stated in the scriptures as some might like could be a function of lots of factors. Arguing against it because you haven’t noticed it in the scriptures we have is placing yourself in the camp of Christians who argue against LDS teachings that they don’t find in their Bible either. Not a great place to be in if you really believe in continual revelation.

    BTW, Rob O, Interesting that you think our recent definitions of the whole plan of salvation are all jumbled up. Care to comment more on that?

    Rob O, you say there is no reason to try something again if you’ve already done it…maybe so. Part of the whole rationale behind MMP is that we don’t actually get to experience some things here in this life, and need other opportunities to do so. Again, it really comes down to your view of eternity and what it is all about. Non-Mormon Christians can’t even fathom inheriting eternal posterity and increase, or find it blasphemous to think we could inherit the same kind of life as God. Likewise, perhaps many LDS don’t have a very clear view of what becoming like God actually means, or what it entails. Why would Christ recieve the fulness of the Father only after going through the atonement, while we’ll get the same glory by merely home teaching and attending the temple for 70 years? This disparity between our own experience and the experience of the Savior inspired our early leaders to think long and hard about what we are to inherit, and the conditions for inheriting all that the Father hath. Their view seemed to be that we would have to pass through the same things if we were to recieve the same glory. Grace can get you forgiveness of your sins, but not make you a God if you haven’t gone through the same experiences of a God. The MTOE version of the plan of salvation doesn’t really tell us much about how we actually achieve that, but MMP does.

    Finally, Rob O., can you give us some references to justify this one:
    When we are resurrected we will die no more, we will possess that body forever, never to leave again.

    I know this is a stickler for many folks…it might be best to lay all the evidence out on the table for this one.

  159. Seth Rogers on January 23, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    OK, you’ve responded to Rob Osborne.

    But the comment from A Nonny Mouse still hasn’t been addressed.

    Why do there have to be multiple MORTAL probations?

    I can understand if you want to extrapolate multiple probations.

    But I don’t see why you think we need more than one mortal one.

  160. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    In case you need it to be clearer, here is what Brigham Young taught about how we progress after recieving our exaltation by becoming an Adam or Eve on a future world.

    “After men have got their exaltations and their crowns–have become Gods, even the sons of God–are made Kings of kings and Lord of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. How can they do it? Have they to go to that earth? Yes, an Adam will have to go there, and he cannot do without Eve; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation, and they will go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children. This is a key for you” (Journal of Discourses 6:275).

    You don’t have to believe it, but it is pretty clear. If you want to be a God, you have to follow in the footstops of those that have gone before. After you create spirit children, you become an Adam on your own world.

    To the Sisters, Brigham Young promised:
    “You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations. You will become Eves to earths like this; and when you have assisted in peopling one earth, there are millions of earths still in the course of creation.
    And when they have endured a thousand million times longer than this earth, it is only as it were the beginning of your creations. Be faithful, and if you are not blest with children in this time, you will be herafter. But I would not dare tell you all I know about these matters.” (Journal of Discourses 8:208)

    Here’s Heber C. Kimball:
    “When we escape from this earth, do we suppose we are going to heaven? Do you suppose you are going to the earth that Adam came from? that Eloheim came from? where Jehovah the Lord came from? No. When you have learned to become obedient to the Father that dwells upon this earth, to the Father and God of this earth, and obedient to the messengers He sends—when you have done all that, remember you are not going to leave this earth. You will never leave it until you become qualified, and capable, and capacitated to become a father of an earth yourselves.” (JD 1:356)

    I think it is wrong to ascribe MMP to Heber C. Kimball. He didn’t make it up. He got it from Brigham Young, who claimed to get it from Joseph Smith. You’re free to disregard what Pres. Young taught about our future lives, but you can’t deny that it was taught. I’m not sure we understand, or that Brigham Young even understood, all the ramifications of this, and surely many people have become confused over all this before. So, take it or leave it, but Brigham Young and many of the early Saints clearly believed and taught that we would become Adams and Eves on our own worlds.

  161. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 8:13 pm

    Why multiple mortal probations?

    First of all, what do we mean by mortal? Was Adam mortal? If we are to follow in his footsteps, and do what he did (a big if for some people here), then this is the big question. If he was already resurrected, and came to this planet like BY said, and then “fell” to become mortal, then that’s all there is. BY taught that he did this so his children could have mortal bodies. Maybe we don’t understand much about all of this.

    As for past mortal probations, which we have been told even less about, feel free to add your own ideas or come to your own conclusions. Makes sense to me that there is something about being on an earth in a physical body that is important either a) for us to be able to prove that we can live a certain way that we’ve learned before, or even b) to learn how to live a certain way in the first place. If intelligences want to grow in glory and the ability to control matter, maybe they have to have MMP to learn how to control more and more complex biological and physical processes. Not sure, since we aren’t told much about this.

    The mortal condition is one where we are a) embodied–giving us certain opportunities we don’t have when we are unembodied and b) outside the presence of God, whatever that means. Perhaps mortality is a condition of one of the 12 (according to recent ideas about supersymmetry?) dimensions of our present universe, and that there is something important about making multiple passes through this dimension as we progress? There’s really so much we don’t know about the nature of these other dimensions, and how they relate to our own physical dimensions, that it is premature to say much. Science and revelations are both pretty sketchy on this at this point.

    So, at this point I honestly can’t answer why probations are mortal, just that this seems to be the way things are according to the teachings of Brigham Young and others.

  162. Rob Osborn on January 23, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    Rob,

    45 Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

    (Book of Mormon | Alma 11:45)

    The scriptures make clear that the body at resurrection will unite with the spirit never to be divided again, pretty clear to me.

    As far as our jumbled plan of salvation, The key words of salvation have been misinterpreted so many times that they bring a whole different meaning to the plan as far as who they are for. words like
    Salvation
    Damnation
    Eternal Life
    Saved
    Damned
    Sons of God
    Heirs
    baptism

  163. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    Rob O, you seem to have two conflicting statements here:

    Alma–you never die again after the resurrection
    Brigham Young–if you want to progress after the resurrection, the way to do it is to go die on another world.

    I wouldn’t want to try and explain away either of these statements, so I guess it is up to each of us to understand them in our own way. Perhaps we differ in where we place our emphasis, and the only way we can know for certain which is correct (until we experience it) is through personal revelation. I have my own views on this, as do I’m sure you do as well. On the face of it, they can’t both be strictly and literally true. Of such are the mysteries of God?

  164. Rob on January 23, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    . . . Of course, on a closer reading, one of these statements was made by a sustained Prophet of God (BY), while the other was made by a missionary and recent convert (Amulek). You can choose for yourself what to make of that.

  165. Jim F. on January 24, 2006 at 12:09 am

    Rob, does it make any difference that another sustained prophet of God, Spencer Kimball said of the Adam-God theory “We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine” (October Conference 1976)?

  166. Rob Osborn on January 24, 2006 at 1:42 am

    Rob,

    I don’t care how you interpret the scriptures, that’s up to you. The point I was getting at was that all people tend to make mistakes- even prophets- yes even Book of Mormon prophets (Hel 11:22-23), But notwithstanding man’s interpretations and theories, there is no doctrine in any scripture telling about death or separation or another mortal probation after resurrection, in fact it always says that it will be a final state for the body.

    The temple is the Lord’s university, within it’s walls the Lord teaches mankind how to return into his physical presence in the Celestial Kingdom. There is no multiple probations taught in the temple. We learn there that all work must be done while in a physical body, thus proxy work. If multiple probations are required then proxy work has no meaning whatsoever because you could always redo it on another earth. God is not a cruel God, he is not going to make us redo mortality because of failure at some level, if he did, then the Atonement has no real eternal value.

    I am reading a book right now by by Joseph Fielding Smith called Doctrines of Salvation VOL. 2, even though I really like a lot of his points he makes, I do not believe every statement he makes in his book to be a correct saving doctrine. In fact some of the statements he makes on the family disagrees with the current Proclomation to the world on the Family. And even the Proclomation was debated and changed many times before they settled on the correct wording. Who do I believe- One prophet or another? Ah-ha, I have the Holy Ghost and the Word of God and prayer.

    This forum reminds me of the good old fashioned debate on creation v. evolution where past apostles and prophets went back and forth and never really sorted it out when in all reality the truth is right there staring at us in the scriptures. This is the same case here, it is staring at us and is so clear that to belive otherwise our whole faith in Christ and salvation hangs in unchartered ground.

  167. Geoff J on January 24, 2006 at 2:37 am

    Rob Osborn: This forum reminds me of the good old fashioned debate on creation v. evolution where past apostles and prophets went back and forth and never really sorted it out when in all reality the truth is right there staring at us in the scriptures.

    Ummmm… what was that truth? That evolution is real and the scriptures teach it, right? I just posted on that here at T&S.

    Again, I don’t object to you believing the My Turn on Earth model of the eternities, Rob O. However, I do object to your insistence that the way you interpret scriptures is the only true and living way to do so. You seem to be more than willing to call the words of modern prophets the opinions of men when they don’t agree with your interpretations of the scriptures. You quote proof texts as if your take is the only possible meaning. For instance, you seem to have completely ignored the excellent comment by Grasshopper (#156) showing that saying the spirit and body are inseparably connected does not mean the must be so forever. Then you go and quote an Amulek proof text as if it somehow closes your case (#162). It is certainly decent evidence for your case, but it does not seal the deal by any means.

    Again, it may be that MMP is not an accurate model of the eternities, but I must say that your defense of the MToE model would be stronger if you did not rest it solely on the idea that you know the only proper way to read scriptures therefore all other readings are incorrect (even those of former prophets). On that point you are just wrong.

    Let me finally add that even though you don’t see MMP in the scriptures and in the temple, I do. I believe it is implicit in both.

  168. Geoff J on January 24, 2006 at 2:41 am

    Jim F.: Rob, does it make any difference that another sustained prophet of God, Spencer Kimball said of the Adam-God theory “We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine� (October Conference 1976)?

    I think it does. I’ll go with President Kimball on this one. While I lean toward MMPs, I think Brigham was not quite right with his ideas about Adam — and the the two doctrines can be taken separately. (I’m still working through my thoughts on Adam…)

  169. Rob on January 24, 2006 at 6:46 am

    A couple quick thoughts,

    Yes, Jim, it is important to me that President Kimball repudiated Adam-God doctrine, though along with Geoff, it isn’t clear to me that this means that President Kimball was throwing out everything that President Young had taught about Adam–perhaps just some aspects of his relationship to Jesus Christ? But since it is hard to know exactly what President Kimball and President Young meant, it is important to be careful. I agree that if something isn’t clearly and plainly taught in the Church, that it isn’t binding on any of us.

    Rob O., as for whether MMP is clearly taught in the temple, I’ll leave that discussion for another time and place.

    I hope no one has taken my comments here as anything more than what they were meant to be, thoughts on some scriptures and comments by some of our leaders, that challenge us to examine our understanding of our relationship with God. I would never say many of the things that I’ve brought up here in Church, and firmly believe that this is NOT doctrine of the Church. MMP may or may not be more correct than MTOE. I don’t know for sure. The doctrine and ordinances of the Church are enough to guide us to exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. If that is all the Lord sees fit to teach us collectively through the Church at this point, so be it. The rest is just speculation, or perhaps individual revelation, which may be edifying, but is clearly NOT official Church doctrine. If anything I’ve brought up here is out of harmony with the current teachings of the Church, then it is clearly not Church doctrine, and along with President Kimball, I repudiate it as such.

    Which leads me to my parting thought. I’m increasingly uncomfortable discussing these ideas here online, so I’m going to bow out with a final quote from Joseph Smith, my hope and prayer being that it will be of benefit to all of us:

    “A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God.”

  170. Geoff J on January 24, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Nicely said, Rob.

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