askandanswer

Progression between kingdoms?

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I've long accepted the view espoused by Bruce R McConkie, and I believe others, that there is no progression between kingdoms However, a few minutes ago I came across the following, I think from Elder McConkie's son in his book Gospel Symbolism in the chapter on The Mountain of the Lord's House:

In his dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Above the ladder stood the Lord, who (and we must assume that Jacob ascended the ladder) covenanted with Jacob, as he had with Abraham and Isaac, to bless him and his posterity throughout all generations. He was told, as had been his fathers, that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Joseph Smith tells us that the "three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder" were the same ascended by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) and that they represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory (Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1927 (published by the Church). 5:402).

To me, it seems as if Brother McConkie is saying that Jacob and Paul progressed from one kingdom to another. Is this a correct understanding of what Brother McConkie is saying, and is Brother McCnkie correct in his idea that there is progression between kingdoms?

As a side issue, I note that the interpretation by President Marion G Romney of Jacob's vision as recorded in Genesis 28:12 is somewhat different from Joseph Smith's explanation. Joseph Smith said 

"Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.305)

President Romney said 

"Jacob realised that the covenants he made with the Lord were the rungs on the laddter that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised bliessings - blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord." ("Temples - the Gates to Heaven" Ensign, March 1971 page 16)

I was planning to teach President Romney's interpretation in my Elders Quorum lesson tomorrow but now I'm not so sure, given that it seems to be different from what Joseph Smith said.

 

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It seems to me that this is temple symbolism. In the temple, we use ascension through (not progression between) the kingdoms of glory as an explanatory metaphor for the purpose of our lives here. We go from a lesser glory to a greater glory. Our lives here in mortality are called "telestial", and the earth of our mortality is specifically referred to as a telestial kingdom. But that does not mean that we have been finally judged and assigned to THE telestial kingdom. Our mortal probation is accomplished in this fallen state so that we can experience both the evil and the good, and see if we want to choose the good.

I can certainly understand how such teachings might somehow seem to be talking about post-resurrection progression between kingdoms of glory. But I think that's a misapprehension of the teachings. We have been taught repeatedly, from many sources, that THIS LIFE is the time for us to prepare to meet God, and that after our resurrection, we will be assigned to the eternal glory for which we have fitted ourselves.

I think the "progression between kingdoms" doctrine is a dangerous one, because it openly encourages the attitude of "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and it shall be well with us...Yea, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God." I strongly believe it to be a false doctrine; but even if it were true, it's still dangerous, because it encourages people to do the wrong thing. Until the prophet comes out openly teaching that doctrine—which he never will—I think it best to declare the doctrine of progression between kingdoms as a false doctrine. (Which it is, and would remain even if it happened to be factually correct, which I reiterate is a thing I strongly disbelieve.)

Edited by Vort

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According to Nibley, some apocryphal accounts of those who have seen visions of the celestial have the person first passing through lesser kingdoms, in preparation.  I think this and the following are the only way to interpret scripture which talks of someone having visions of heaven - the progression applies to the vision, not the resurrection.

To me, it sounds like one moves through covenants and ordinances which move one from telestial to terrestrial to celestial - the goal always being to attain celestial.

Or, exactly what @Vort said.

Edited by zil

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7 minutes ago, zil said:

According to Nibley, some apocryphal accounts of those who have seen visions of the celestial have the person first passing through lesser kingdoms, in preparation.  I think this and the following are the only way to interpret scripture which talks of someone having visions of heaven - the progression applies to the vision, not the resurrection.

To me, it sounds like one moves through covenants and ordinances which move one from telestial to terrestrial to celestial - the goal always being to attain celestial.

Or, exactly what @Vort said.

In this context, isn't it interesting how Dante structured his so-called Divine Comedy, with the character of Dante passing first through Hell, then through the Catholic idea of Purgatory, then finally ascending through the various levels of Paradise? Apropos of nothing. Just thought it was interesting.

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3 minutes ago, Vort said:

In this context, isn't it interesting how Dante structured his so-called Divine Comedy, with the character of Dante passing first through Hell, then through the Catholic idea of Purgatory, then finally ascending through the various levels of Paradise? Apropos of nothing. Just thought it was interesting.

Nibley also liked to point out how angels always had to start off with "fear not!" - in other words, the divine is so very different as to be frightening.  It makes sense to me that one might have to progress their way into a vision of the celestial.  (And, I expect, even after resurrection (or perhaps on the way to it), make a similar progression.)

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1 hour ago, zil said:

Nibley also liked to point out how angels always had to start off with "fear not!" - in other words, the divine is so very different as to be frightening.  It makes sense to me that one might have to progress their way into a vision of the celestial.  (And, I expect, even after resurrection (or perhaps on the way to it), make a similar progression.)

And I just realized this may sound like I believe in progression between kingdoms - I don't.  But I believe we as individuals progress gradually and that the resurrection alone won't be enough to make us instantly like God - we must learn that - exactly how and when, I don't pretend to know, I simply don't think it's an instant change.

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9 hours ago, askandanswer said:

In his dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Above the ladder stood the Lord, who (and we must assume that Jacob ascended the ladder) covenanted with Jacob, as he had with Abraham and Isaac, to bless him and his posterity throughout all generations. He was told, as had been his fathers, that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Joseph Smith tells us that the "three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder" were the same ascended by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) and that they represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory (Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1927 (published by the Church). 5:402).

I would ask, how is this vision different than D&C 76?

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9 hours ago, zil said:

And I just realized this may sound like I believe in progression between kingdoms - I don't.  But I believe we as individuals progress gradually and that the resurrection alone won't be enough to make us instantly like God - we must learn that - exactly how and when, I don't pretend to know, I simply don't think it's an instant change.

One thing that has perplexed me about the plan of salvation is that we don’t really have any idea what exaltation would be like. We all talk about how we want to go to the celestial kingdom... but what if when we see it, even after qualifying for it, we would be more comfortable in the tellestial? 

Perhaps in this life we show what we qualify for, but we stop where we want? 

🤷🏻‍♂️

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I know some on this site are not fond of some of the progressive ramblings elsewhere in the bloggernacle, but I recall a post by historian Johnathan Stapley where he talks a little about who taught what as to progression between kingdoms https://bycommonconsent.com/2017/05/22/plans-of-salvation/ He includes Elder McKonkie that is cited in the OP, but he also cites a few other apostles and authorities who were less concerned with progression between kingdoms. Because of Elder McKonkie published Mormon Doctrine and other, it seems that his opinions and teachings carry a lot of weight in our late 20/early 21st century beliefs, but I find it interesting that others before him seemed to have different views.

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3 hours ago, Fether said:

One thing that has perplexed me about the plan of salvation is that we don’t really have any idea what exaltation would be like. We all talk about how we want to go to the celestial kingdom... but what if when we see it, even after qualifying for it, we would be more comfortable in the tellestial? 

Perhaps in this life we show what we qualify for, but we stop where we want?  

🤷🏻‍♂️

I suspect what we qualify for is actually what we want.  Nibley (in Approaching Zion) also talks about how everything here, and in the next life, and in the millennium is to prepare us for the celestial because otherwise, we'd die of shock on arrival. :)

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15 minutes ago, zil said:

I suspect what we qualify for is actually what we want.  Nibley (in Approaching Zion) also talks about how everything here, and in the next life, and in the millennium is to prepare us for the celestial because otherwise, we'd die of shock on arrival. :)

What I’m talking about is the fact that we really don’t know what the celestial kingdom will be like.

Say I expect it to be an eternity of relaxation and spending time with family and friends. I spend my life living righteously so I can qualify for that. but when I get there, I find that there is actually a lot of work to be done and I’ll be spending eternity creating worlds and bringing about the salvation of other spirits. I may think to myself “even though I qualified for this, this isn’t what’s i wanted. The terrestrial kingdom is closer to the heaven I am looking for”.

Though you “wanted” exaltation while on earth and qualified for it, it turned out to be something other than what you thought and one of the other kingdoms meets your expectations better.

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6 hours ago, Mores said:

I would ask, how is this vision different than D&C 76?

Some differences, and I would argue that they might be significant differences, are that D&C 76 also includes some information about a kingdom that is not a kingdom of glory, which is an idea completely absent in Jacob's vision, (verses 25 - 46 of section 76)  and Doctrine and Covenants also describes the characteristics of those who will go to each kingdom. But its not only the vision that we need to consider, but also how it is interpreted. The interpretation by Brother McConkie of Joseph Smith's interpretation of Jacob's vision includes the idea that the ladder represented not just three kingdoms, but that it also "represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory."  This idea of progression is not readily apparent in either the original recording of Jacob's vision, in Genesis, or in the visions recorded in D&C 76        

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

Though you “wanted” exaltation while on earth and qualified for it, it turned out to be something other than what you thought and one of the other kingdoms meets your expectations better.

And my point was, that it's not the "I want the celestial kingdom" that defines what you get, but rather the "I want to relax already" or "I want challenges and hard work to do" and that kind of want which will determine your worthiness.

In other words, as has been said elsewhere, if you don't really want the life of an exalted being, you won't be doing those things here which qualify you for it.  If you're going through the motions, following the rules, but your heart isn't in it, you won't make it.  If your heart is in it, regardless of how often you fall, you'll make it.  And wherever your heart is, that's the kingdom you'll both want, and qualify for.

In other words, regardless of how much we don't know, each of us is already becoming a particular sort of person.

Quote

If every choice I make expresses a preference, if the world I build up is the world I really love and want, then with every choice I am judging myself, proclaiming all the day long to God, angels, and my fellowmen where my real values lie, where my treasure is, the things to which I give supreme importance. Hence, in this life every moment provides a perfect and foolproof test of your real character, making this life a time of testing and probation.

--Approaching Zion, Hugh Nibley

Quote

The test for this life is not for knowledge; it is not for intelligence, or for courage, or for anything like that. That would be a huge joke. None of us knows very much, none of us is very brave, none of us is very strong, none of us is very smart. We would flunk those tests terribly. As Alma said, we are only to be tested on one thing--the desires of our heart (Alma 41:3); that is what we are really after. And in that way we betray ourselves completely.

--Approaching Zion, Hugh Nibley

IMO, people frequently claim to want things they don't really want (as much as other things - often laziness).  Those things we truly want, we work for, we don't just wish for them.  And they are in our hearts, minds, and efforts.  Anyone who will reject the celestial kingdom will also never qualify for it, because it's way too much work to get there without it being completely in your heart, mind, and efforts.

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As I understand it, there is no progression between Kingdoms. 

A thought on this.

The REASON for this is because God is unchanging.  Eternity is eternal and unchanging.  Once in Eternity, you cannot change perse.  That is why you need mortality.  All ordinances and other things that change your future NEED to be done in mortality, either by you or by proxy.  Outside of mortality and change, time does not exist, thus change does not exist in the way we understand it.

However, before we get to the Celestial Kingdom there is the hypothesis that we need to go through the Telestial and then the Terrestrial Kingdom first.  This is achieved by going through the Telestial and Terrestrial way of living.  We start by living in a Telestial world according to Telestial rules.  As per these Telestial rules we have survival of the fittest, and other such ideas. 

However, we need to live by certain rules in order to advance into a Terrestrial way of living.  Some of this is addressed in the Temple in my opinion, which we cannot talk about.  However, some ideas of rules that you would need to follow to live a Terrestrial life would doing things such as Baptism, living the lower law or the Ten Commandments, and striving to do the things the Lord commands.

Once we are living a more Terrestrial life we need to strive to be worthy to live a higher law...also within the Terrestrial realm but which can help qualify us for a Celestial life.  These would incorporate ideas such as the Law of Consecration and other such ideals as taught by the Prophet Joseph in addition to the Higher Law that the Lord taught in the New Testament.

Thus, you can live a Telestial or Terrestrial life here, and live in accordance to those principles.  As you live the law of each Kingdom, thus you can also feel the glory of such and the experiences of such a living here.

In this same manner, is the hypothesis that when the Millennial reign comes, it is not going to suddenly be a flash of light, but a change in the way people live.  They will live a Terrestrial law rather than the Telestial manner we live currently.

Thus, in this life is the time to advance through these laws and kingdoms in our own lives in preparation for the life to come.

 

PS: This is a hard concept to convey, so hopefully I conveyed it correctly.  I apologize for any misunderstandings it may bring about in advance, as I try to be clear but sometimes words evade my ability to convey my meaning.

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4 hours ago, zil said:

If every choice I make expresses a preference, if the world I build up is the world I really love and want, then with every choice I am judging myself, proclaiming all the day long to God, angels, and my fellowmen where my real values lie, where my treasure is, the things to which I give supreme importance. Hence, in this life every moment provides a perfect and foolproof test of your real character, making this life a time of testing and probation.

I've sometimes wondered about the efficacy of the above ^^ as a methodology for coming to know and understand God's character. Joseph taught that         “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God”   and it seems to me as if one way of learning about God's character is to study the choices and decisions He has made and to try and work out the values and motives that underlay them and the opportunities that were foregone by choosing X rather than Y. I suspect that if we study enough choices and decisions, and make it a thorough study, understandings and insights would begin to emerge that are not readily apparent through other methods of coming to know His character.

I would be very interested to hear the thoughts of others about this.

Edited by askandanswer

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3 hours ago, zil said:

people frequently claim to want things they don't really want (as much as other things - often laziness).  Those things we truly want, we work for, we don't just wish for them.  And they are in our hearts, minds, and efforts.  Anyone who will reject the celestial kingdom will also never qualify for it, because it's way too much work to get there without it being completely in your heart, mind, and efforts.

Exactly 🙃 we are on the same page then

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14 hours ago, Fether said:

Why?

I'm not sure why. Maybe because I find it interesting that different apostles would have different opinions on the matter -- especially when one of those apostles (Elder McConkie) calls the opposite opinion a deadly heresy.

Or maybe it illustrates the process of how the Church comes to decide truth. Before Elder McConkie, apostles and others were offering up different opinions. Then Elder McConkie comes along and makes a strong declaration -- even couching it in terms of heresy -- and the Church seems to kind of accept that Elder McConkie is correct and the issue is settled.

Edited by MrShorty
Fix Elder McConkie's name as pointed out by Vort

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1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

I'm not sure why. Maybe because I find it interesting that different apostles would have different opinions on the matter -- especially when one of those apostles (Elder McKonkie) calls the opposite opinion a deadly heresy.

Is the idea heretical? Certainly it's not orthodox. Accepting the idea of eternal "progression between kingdoms" is basically teaching the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. I'd say that, for a Latter-day Saint, that must certainly qualify as heresy.

Is the idea deadly? In my opinion: Absolutely. Together with other false doctrines espoused by some Latter-day Saints (e.g. "continuing mortality", aka "the baby resurrection"), this encourages a spirit of "don't worry about cleaning up your act now; you'll have plenty of time in future lives." That's just about as spiritually deadly an idea as I can think of.

BONUS FACTOID: Only one 'k' in "McConkie".

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17 minutes ago, Vort said:

this encourages a spirit of "don't worry about cleaning up your act now; you'll have plenty of time in future lives." That's just about as spiritually deadly an idea as I can think of.

If you keep reliving the same life, and are never able to make the commitment to achieve Celestial worthiness, isn't it the same thing, whether it happens once or a thousand times, the outcome is the same.

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1 hour ago, bytebear said:

If you keep reliving the same life, and are never able to make the commitment to achieve Celestial worthiness, isn't it the same thing, whether it happens once or a thousand times, the outcome is the same.

Groundhog day style?  I never thought of it like that.   That said, wouldn't living a new round of mortality be a double blessing in the sense that you would not only have another chance, but would also have the veil of forgetfulness that would mask the memory of your sins and disobedience from your previous life from your mind?

If we were to tread down the path and assume plausibility of repeat chances, once we also take into account Alma's teaching that our spirit carries forward it's stature, then couldn't it just get harder and harder every time you don't make it?  Would you get unlimited chances until you either become a Son of Perdition or you make it or something?

All too speculative for me.  Personally, I don't find the idea of progression between kingdoms, or multiple opportunities at mortality to be palatable.  Seems too 'eat drink and be merry' to me.

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On 12/6/2019 at 9:56 PM, askandanswer said:

I was planning to teach President Romney's interpretation in my Elders Quorum lesson tomorrow but now I'm not so sure, given that it seems to be different from what Joseph Smith said.

Hopefully it's not to late to teach from the manual :)!

Alma 32 assures us that every good step begins with a desire to believe. Upon the resurrection and judgement, I believe Christ would not place anyone possessing a desire to believe unto grater glory into a lesser kingdom. The resurrection entails a quickening by glory. A resurrected body never ends, and neither does the glory by which it is quickened (D&C 88:-32). His resurrection and the attendant glory are final, and I believe that suggesting that are not denies the power and perfection of His atonement.

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On 12/7/2019 at 1:07 PM, askandanswer said:

Some differences, and I would argue that they might be significant differences, are that D&C 76 also includes some information about a kingdom that is not a kingdom of glory, which is an idea completely absent in Jacob's vision, (verses 25 - 46 of section 76)  and Doctrine and Covenants also describes the characteristics of those who will go to each kingdom. But its not only the vision that we need to consider, but also how it is interpreted. The interpretation by Brother McConkie of Joseph Smith's interpretation of Jacob's vision includes the idea that the ladder represented not just three kingdoms, but that it also "represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory."  This idea of progression is not readily apparent in either the original recording of Jacob's vision, in Genesis, or in the visions recorded in D&C 76        

If you really read the quote you started this thread with, then you'd realize how most of what you posted here is invalid.

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On 12/6/2019 at 6:56 PM, askandanswer said:

I've long accepted the view espoused by Bruce R McConkie, and I believe others, that there is no progression between kingdoms However, a few minutes ago I came across the following, I think from Elder McConkie's son in his book Gospel Symbolism in the chapter on The Mountain of the Lord's House:

In his dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Above the ladder stood the Lord, who (and we must assume that Jacob ascended the ladder) covenanted with Jacob, as he had with Abraham and Isaac, to bless him and his posterity throughout all generations. He was told, as had been his fathers, that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Joseph Smith tells us that the "three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder" were the same ascended by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) and that they represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory (Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1927 (published by the Church). 5:402).

To me, it seems as if Brother McConkie is saying that Jacob and Paul progressed from one kingdom to another. Is this a correct understanding of what Brother McConkie is saying, and is Brother McConkie correct in his idea that there is progression between kingdoms?

As a side issue, I note that the interpretation by President Marion G Romney of Jacob's vision as recorded in Genesis 28:12 is somewhat different from Joseph Smith's explanation. Joseph Smith said 

"Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.305)

President Romney said 

"Jacob realised that the covenants he made with the Lord were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings - blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord." ("Temples - the Gates to Heaven" Ensign, March 1971 page 16)

I was planning to teach President Romney's interpretation in my Elders Quorum lesson tomorrow but now I'm not so sure, given that it seems to be different from what Joseph Smith said.

"

I did teach that to my class and they all revolted. Now I'm not in the EQ presidency anymore. LOL

.The temple endowment clearly shows a movement up and down the rungs and as far as I can see, there is no difference between Romney's and Smith's statements concerning the rungs of Jacob's ladder. These are all temple related. As I was thinking about this, we symbolize the Terrestrial world in the temple, but in reality we are still in a telestial world. IOW, when we go to the temple, we repeatedly climb that ladder only to return to our telestial world.

Joseph also indicated that by sealing our posterity, family, in the temple, we can reach through the eternities and bring them with us or words to that effect. The idea is that a lost son or daughter can be recovered from their condition and brought up with us. How is this possible if Bruce's concept of being locked into a particular kingdom is correct. We already know that many who will live in the telestial kingdom will arrive there after spending time in hell.

The workings of life hereafter is not well known and there is very little doctrine concerning it. However, it is evident that many have asked questions about it and some have obtained answers that, when it was received, it was significant enough to be included in the scriptures. Two instances come to mind, though there are many subtle statements, mostly made in parables, but the two that come to mind are Joseph Fielding Smith's preaching to gospel to the dead and Alma the Younger's explanation about the state of the soul betwixt the time of death and the resurrection. Outside of these, there is precious little so everything else is speculation.

 I personally think McConkie taught the gospel according to McConkie. He said several things that I just can't accept, so I wouldn't rely on him as the final word on anything. He is one GA who has had to apologize for more statements than any other GA I know, but a lot of members still accept what he said as gospel and I think that is why I had such a hard time with my lesson. The source of my topic actually came from Elder Oaks' talk referring tot he woman who wanted to know if she would have a separate house or would have to live with her husband's other wife in the same house. The gist of that talk was that we not dwell on speculation nor teach it in our classes. Specifically, he stated that such conversations are ok for small intimate groups but are inappropriate for a public discourse. 

Joseph Fielding Smith made this statement: 

Those born under the covenant, throughout all eternity, are the children of their parents. Nothing except the unpardonable sin, or sin unto death, can break this tie. If children do not sin as John says, "unto death," the parents may still feel after them and eventually bring them back near to them again....

If this is true, it seems that parents can reach their children and bring them up with them. How is this possible without the possibility of moving up from one capacity to another, from one glory to another? Joseph Smith said pretty much the same thing in the KFD. He said this continues until the resurrection. It would have to also continue in the spirit world in that time between death and the resurrection. The question then becomes, when is the resurrection and frankly, I don't think anyone can specify when the last resurrection will be, but I suspect will will be a sufficient time for every person who will have lived on this earth to accept or reject the teachings of Christ. We cannot force anyone to do something they don't want to do. I personally believe that every person will obtain the kingdom they are willing to accept the principles that govern that kingdom. 

We might think that given the chance, everyone will want to do what God does, but I don't think that's true. What God does is hard. It's painful and comes along with a lot of grief, but it also comes along with a lot of inexplicable joy. There are some people who simply are not willing pay the price.The joy they have without the grief is enough.

And what about those who had the truth here and then turned away? That is not really a subject we can judge. I know we teach there are no second chances, but how can we say who really had it the first time? We can't. I would never suggest that anyone decide on these ideas that they can let go of the iron rod and play in the mist of darkness because even if they ende up in the great and spacious building, they might still have a chance at celestial glory. Those who are on the right path have so much the advantage over those who never had it and over those who decided to take a vacation from it.

I am curious about what others have said on this subject... Good topic.

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On 12/7/2019 at 7:15 AM, MrShorty said:

I know some on this site are not fond of some of the progressive ramblings elsewhere in the bloggernacle, but I recall a post by historian Johnathan Stapley where he talks a little about who taught what as to progression between kingdoms https://bycommonconsent.com/2017/05/22/plans-of-salvation/ He includes Elder McKonkie that is cited in the OP, but he also cites a few other apostles and authorities who were less concerned with progression between kingdoms. Because of Elder McKonkie published Mormon Doctrine and other, it seems that his opinions and teachings carry a lot of weight in our late 20/early 21st century beliefs, but I find it interesting that others before him seemed to have different views.

I think it's interesting to note that his son also had differing views.

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