CuriousStudent101

Is There Forgiveness for Apostates After Death?

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Hey guys, I'm not LDS but I've had on and off interactions with members of the Mormon Church. As a Catholic, I find the Mormon interpretation of the afterlife much more reflective of a loving and forgiving God. My understanding is that everyone gets a second chance in the spirit world after death before their final judgement. However, I know that there is still a concept of Hell (which makes sense because Scripture talks about it quite a bit), but it's reserved for Satan, his followers, and "sons of perdition."  My understanding is "sons of perdition" includes former Mormons who turn their back on the Mormon Church.

So, just to apply the whole Eternal Family concept in an example: John and Susy are faithful Mormons who are sealed in the Temple, and their three children are sealed to them. Child A goes on to be a faithful, temple worthy Mormon. Child B is a lukewarm Mormon who doesn't reject the Mormon Church but also doesn't follow all the teachings. Child C rejects the church and converts to another Christian denomination. They also have a family friend who is an atheist. Based on what I know about Mormon Doctrine, Child A would be exalted with her parents (she would need to marry to achieve full exaltation) at the resurrection, and before that, she would enjoy peace in the spirit world and maybe teach people in spirit prison. Child B and the atheist friend would go to spirit prison, and depending on the choices they make there, they would get to go to one of the three Kingdoms. But what about Child C, who is a Mormon apostate? Does he get a second chance in spirit prison, or does he go straight to Hell without hopes of redemption?

When I asked the missionaries, they didn't directly answer my question, and I couldn't seem to find a clear answer to this on lds.org. Links to additional information where answers to this question are spelled out (or just Scripture references within your answer) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping me understand more.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

CuriousStudent,  Welcome to the site.  Glad you found us.  We'd be happy to talk to you about these things.  

First, you mentioned hell.  Hell is for those who do not repent and avail themselves of the Atonement.  If they don't accept Christ's gift, then they will have to suffer for their own sins--an emotional and spiritual suffering that would be miserable like unto a lake of fire and brimstone that the scriptures mention. Once they are clean though, they will inherit a place in one of the Kingdoms, the lowest of which is better than this earth life.  I've always found this to be a comforting doctrine.  That Heavenly Father loves His children and wants us to be happy so much that He has made that possible for everyone.  

Sons of Perdition are people who willingly turn their back on God.  I'm not exactly clear on what it takes to do that, but it is pretty serious.  I've always imagined that they would literally have to have seen God and then reject Him to be a Son of Perdition.  Turning away from the church will not give one that status.  

About your example, there is much we don't know, but my understanding is that Child C would go to one of the Kingdoms, same as the others.  On the church website, it defines Sons of Perdition as those who "served Satan and turned utterly against God."  Child C definitely does not fit in that category, nor do any of the others in your example.  I can understand your confusion, but Child C is not rejecting God.  I don't think the atheist is either.  To be a Son of Perdition is to willfully chose to follow Satan rather than God.  

Hope that helps, and again welcome!

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1 hour ago, Sunday21 said:

@CuriousStudent101 In addition to the second changes described above, those who are not liars and thieves will get another shot at life during the milennnium. https://www.lds.org/topics/millennium?lang=eng

I'm not sure where this idea of getting another shot at life during the millennium is coming from. This is not doctrine. 

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Greeting CuriousStudent101.  Welcome to the forums.

The scriptural details of the various kingdoms is found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/76?lang=eng

The reason you aren't getting clear answers is because such Eternal Judgements are more complex then your simple set-ups accounts for.

In the Scriptures we learn that Men judge by external appearance but God judges by looking on the heart.

Your examples judge based on an external appearance (aka did they get the ordinances that are required).  But Ordinances by themselves are not enough, this should become very clear when one realizes that the LDS temple work is based around the idea of doing the Ordinance work of every Child in the family of Adam. If the church meets this goal then it should be very clear that which Kingdom we go is based on more then just what Ordinances we have.

The other factor is what do we "become."  The scriptures talk about putting off the natural man and becoming a new creature in Christ.  Being "Born Again."  Ideally these changes in our nature go hand in hand with the external ordinances.  This is why the ordinances are all about us changing and learning and growing.  Sadly the spiritual growth that the Ordinances exemplify does not always happen to the individual undergoing the ordinance   

Now lets walk through one of your examples.

Child A externally has all the appearance of someone going to the Celestial Kingdom but question is what did they become?

Did Child A become One with Christ by enduring and overcoming all things?  If so then Celestial

Did Child A become a "Good Person" but did not endure and overcome all things?  If so then Terrestrial

Did Child A become someone that adapted the social cover while gratifying their own hearts and desires?  If so then Telestial (Sadly these people exist)

Did Child A become someone that knew God but chose to rebel and fight God (a wolf in sheep's clothing if you will)?  If so then Outer Darkeness

I would hope that this example of Child A shows just how hard rendering such judgements can be for us mortals. Child B is much the same

Now lets move on to the one that is "apostate"

God set us here to learn and to grow.  Knowing full well we will make mistakes, we will sin and we will rebel to various degrees.  This is what repentance is for, thus in many ways we all get second, third, fourth, etc chances.  Only God knows when our chances are up, and when they are he renders a judgement.  For us mortals we (don't and can't know) so we hold on to the Hope that until God renders Judgement a person can repent.  Someone that appears "apostate" now could have a change of heart down the road a ways, or they they might not.  We don't know we can't know, so we hold out the Hope that they will. We know God will be merciful unto those that seek him and seek to repent even if it is a bit late in their mortality test.

Because of this we can not say one way or another what will become of Child C, we can only say that God is perfectly Fair, Just, and Merciful

 

 

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16 hours ago, CuriousStudent101 said:

But what about Child C, who is a Mormon apostate? Does he get a second chance in spirit prison, or does he go straight to Hell without hopes of redemption?

It's not quite that simple.  If we're going to go by a simple example then I present to you Peter the Apostle.  During his time as an Apostle, Jesus asked Him, "Do you know who I am"?  And Peter replied, "you are the Christ".  Jesus then said,  "man did not reveal this to you but my Father in heaven.". 

In this exchange, we see that Peter received revelation from God that Jesus is the Christ and that this revelation is not something we can get from man.  I mentioned this to you in one of our private conversations that Faith questions can't be answered by men, they can only be answered by the Holy Spirit.

If one receives this revelation, like Peter did, and then rejects Christ's atonement, then Outer Darkness is the only path.  Not all Mormons qualify to receive this revelation in mortality.  Learning and progression continues after death.

One important teaching of Christ is His warning against unrighteous judgment.  It is not our place to judge the eternal destiny of people.  Our place is simply to testify of Christ and bring people to repentance.

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16 hours ago, CuriousStudent101 said:

But what about Child C, who is a Mormon apostate? Does he get a second chance in spirit prison, or does he go straight to Hell without hopes of redemption?

No one can say for sure. Depends on Child C's heart, mind, knowledge, and accountability. What we do know: If Child C never got baptized the work will be done on his/her behalf, and God will be their judge. In theory, however, this life is the time to be tried, and those who had the opportunity to accept and follow truth but rejected won't have much of a leg to stand on. It is incumbent upon those who know to warn others of the danger of casting aside truth.

I like to apply these sorts of ideas to myself -- as only I know my own heart -- and would only recommend others do the same.

I feel quite confident that if I apostatized and left the LDS church that my chance for salvation would be kaput upon my death.

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11 hours ago, james12 said:

I'm not sure where this idea of getting another shot at life during the millennium is coming from. This is not doctrine. 

Really? Why is it not the case that the Millenium is another shot at life? I can understand that the terrestrial are not given another go. Is the millenium not another opportunity to progress?

Edited by Sunday21

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5 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

Really? Why is it not the case that the Millenium is another shot at life? I can understand that the terrestrial are not given another go. Is the millenium not another opportunity to progress?

Not for those who died before it.  Nowhere do we have any teaching about people getting a second mortality, and the idea (in the form of reincarnation) has been explicitly rejected by the Church.

My understanding is, basically: Those who died before the millennium and are still unwilling to accept Christ's atonement will remain in spirit prison until after the millennium.  Those who died before it and are willing to accept Christ's atonement will be resurrected.  Those mortals who survive the Second Coming will live through the millennium and will have mortal families just as we do now.  Then, instead of dying and being buried when their mortal life is complete, they'll be "twinkled" - changed into their resurrected state (my opinion is that they'll die and then immediately be resurrected, but that's me).

Everyone will have all the opportunities they need in mortality and in the spirit world, but no one will get a second mortality, and no resurrected being will get a chance to change the glory wherewith they were resurrected.

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56 minutes ago, zil said:

Not for those who died before it.  Nowhere do we have any teaching about people getting a second mortality, and the idea (in the form of reincarnation) has been explicitly rejected by the Church.

My understanding is, basically: Those who died before the millennium and are still unwilling to accept Christ's atonement will remain in spirit prison until after the millennium.  Those who died before it and are willing to accept Christ's atonement will be resurrected.  Those mortals who survive the Second Coming will live through the millennium and will have mortal families just as we do now.  Then, instead of dying and being buried when their mortal life is complete, they'll be "twinkled" - changed into their resurrected state (my opinion is that they'll die and then immediately be resurrected, but that's me).

Everyone will have all the opportunities they need in mortality and in the spirit world, but no one will get a second mortality, and no resurrected being will get a chance to change the glory wherewith they were resurrected.

Thank you! So if you die before the millenium, you get to live during the millenium if you accept Christ as your saviour? 

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1 minute ago, Sunday21 said:

Thank you! So if you die before the millenium, you get to live during the millenium if you accept Christ as your saviour? 

No, you get to live in the Celestial Kingdom if you were worthy - though you may come and go to help the people on earth to accomplish their work.  What I'm not entirely sure of (would have to go look it up) is whether Terrestrial beings might also be resurrected at the start of the millennium or if they have to wait until the end like the Telestial people and Sons of Perdition.

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https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-45-the-millennium?lang=eng

Thank you! @zilI found the relevant chapter in Gospel Principles. Resurrected beings seem to work during the millennium so if we qualify, we will be working. No millennium for us, unless it comes during our lifetime. Oh well! 

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3 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

https://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-45-the-millennium?lang=eng

Thank you! @zilI found the relevant chapter in Gospel Principles. Resurrected beings seem to work during the millennium so if we qualify, we will be working. No millennium for us, unless it comes during our lifetime. Oh well! 

Erm, I think everyone will be working during the millennium, wherever they are and regardless of whether they're mortal, resurrected, or even spirits (unless all preaching to spirits in spirit prison either ceases or is done by resurrected beings).  Further, I don't think the Celestial Kingdom would be a disappointment in comparison to the millennium on earth.  Even the Terrestrial probably wouldn't be (though I could be wrong, I guess).

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Guest

@CuriousStudent101,

I think you may not have a clear definition of some words used in various explanations here.

An apostate (in the context used in many responses here) is one who was once a Mormon, who has renounced their faith and proceeds to actively fight against it.

As far as Outer Darkness: One has to be at a high level of understanding and have a strong Spiritual Witness that cannot be simply "reasoned away."  That witness must be strong enough that one is not just "making a mistake," but actively and knowingly fighting against God.

Given that, God alone will judge whether an individual is worthy of Outer Darkness or not.

Edited by Guest

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Along the lines of 'where do people go,' what happens to those who accept the Gospel after death? Is it an automatic entry to the Celestial Kingdom?

I sure would hate it if my late husband (to whom I am sealed by proxy) goes to the Celestial Kingdom, and I, who  was left to struggle here below for many years after his death (and hence, have had more time to mess up) wind up in the Terrestrial  Kingdom. 

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No, the Celestial Kingdom will be established after the final judgement. I believe they will go from spirit prison to spirit paradise, awaiting judgement. And then there's the millennium where for 1000 years people will be resurrected in due time.  So, who knows, you may be resurrected at the start of the 1000 years and he may have to wait for you.

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On 11/10/2017 at 6:49 AM, james12 said:

I'm not sure where this idea of getting another shot at life during the millennium is coming from. This is not doctrine. 

It only applies to those who aren't liars and thieves.  Maybe you should ask why nobody thought you needed to know.  :P

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On 11/10/2017 at 5:49 AM, james12 said:

I'm not sure where this idea of getting another shot at life during the millennium is coming from. This is not doctrine. 

We do t have much doctrine concerning the millennium. We do know that Christ will be on the earth to perfect the kingdom during that time. So, as logic points out, what are we to do for a thousand years if not to become perfect? Its not so much about "another shot" as it is a place to continue to progress.

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I didn't read other responses yet but will give my thoughts:

On 11/9/2017 at 6:10 PM, CuriousStudent101 said:

My understanding is that everyone gets a second chance in the spirit world after death before their final judgement.

Not a single person will ever get a second chance, and there is no doctrine of which I am aware that indicates that they will, however, I will acknowledge that even members of the Church sometimes speak of it this way incorrectly.  Instead what our doctrine actually indicates is that every person ever born will receive a first chance. The issue of 'second chance' comes into play, because we don't actually know with exactness what constitutes a first chance.  We do know that the Lord is as merciful as He can possibly be, and tend to hope for that mercy in regards to opportunities for loved ones to repent.

Paradise and prison at death does not in itself determine final destination.  Also please understand that Spirit Prison is Hell.  The permanent Hell of most denominations is closest to what we call Outer Darkness, none of the people in the example you provided qualify to actually end up going to Hell/Outer Darkness for all eternity.  The differences in their choices will determine a difference in how much glory they will receive, because none of them have committed the unpardonable sin.

On 11/9/2017 at 6:10 PM, CuriousStudent101 said:

Child A goes on to be a faithful, temple worthy Mormon. Child B is a lukewarm Mormon who doesn't reject the Mormon Church but also doesn't follow all the teachings. Child C rejects the church and converts to another Christian denomination. They also have a family friend who is an atheist.

Based on the information I provided above, here is my personal analysis:

Child A - Likely to receive exaltation, will enter Paradise at death until the resurrection, but still too many unknowns.

Child B - Likely to receive glory in the Terrestrial Kingdom based on what you wrote, but there are actually too many factors (which teachings are not being followed?), will enter Paradise at death until the resurrection because accepted baptism.

Child C - Converting is apostasy.  If not requested by the child, excommunication is technically the default, but might not happen if no one is aware.  Assuming the LDS baptism is rejected, this child will enter Prison/Hell until the resurrection.  The child may still be eligible for the Terrestrial Kingdom, possibly even Celestial depending on what the Lord deems as their chance.  Did this child leave the Church after receiving a witness of it being true?  When they left the LDS Church, did they remain a righteous individual?  Why did they leave?  Too many factors to know for sure.  Regardless, hell will still only be temporary for this person.

Atheist friend - Will receive 1st opportunity to accept the gospel from Prison/Hell, if accepts, could potentially be eligible for Celestial glory.

Sorry no scripture references, I'll see if I can update and add them in later.

Edited by person0

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6 minutes ago, Jane_Doe said:

You got us all figured out :)

I'm currently watching a thread on faceplant where they are discussing whether or not green tea violates the WoW.  Very entertaining.  Apparently, as long as it isn't Lipton you're in the clear.

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