Eternal progression


laronius

Recommended Posts

I came across this article that I thought was really interesting and makes a compelling argument about what eternal progression really means, regardless of the kingdom we end up in. One problem I have with it though, at least in part, is that for it to be completely true then it kind of wouldn't matter where we ended up. But regardless I think there is some truth to the theory.

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/switching-glories/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, laronius said:

I came across this article that I thought was really interesting and makes a compelling argument about what eternal progression really means, regardless of the kingdom we end up in. One problem I have with it though, at least in part, is that for it to be completely true then it kind of wouldn't matter where we ended up. But regardless I think there is some truth to the theory.

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/switching-glories/

I like everything about the article except the author’s gratuitous use of the exclamation mark. 😉

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There might be other things at play (a recent spirited discussion elsewhere on what "sad heaven" means, for example), but I found the article interesting. Reactions:

1) One common reaction to any talk or essay on the topic is to reflect on our general and long-standing discomfort with universalism. As I understand the history, one of the biggest obstacles to 19th century saints accepting "The Vision" (as D&C 76 was affectionately called back then) was that they felt it was too universalist and they were uncomfortable with that. We eventually got past this issue with D&C 76, but we never did fully resolve our uncomfortable and complicated relationship with universalism.

2) Specific to Br. Goddard's essay, the thing that stood out to me (even above his use of exclamation marks) was his push against a "hierarchical, linear way of thinking" about the afterlife. I saw similar intimations in Pres. Oaks's April Sunday Afternoon talk, so I have been contemplating for the past 6 months this idea that maybe celestial, terrestrial, telestial -- rather than being in a happy, happier, happiest hierarchy -- are more different kinds of equivalent happiness. If everyone is so completely and perfectly happy where they end up, maybe it isn't necessarily better to be celestial?

3) While Br. Goddard didn't mention any "sad heaven" scenarios, I naturally reflected on my own "sad heaven." As Elder Holland told PBS, heaven just won't be heaven without my wife and children, but my wife and children have all left the church. Some (pointing to some statements by Pres. Nelson) will claim that, barring repentance during this life, my family will not make it to the CK. Will I be happier in the TrK or TlK with them (even if marriage/family is somehow "dissolved") than I would be single in the CK? Sometimes, in "eternal polygamy" circles, someone will talk about doing a little bit less than their best so they can avoid the CK and any threat of needing to enter polygamous relationship -- figuring they will be happier single in a lower kingdom than in a higher kingdom sharing a spouse or having multiple spouses. If the kingdoms are more horizontal and less vertical, then maybe these are less concerning?

4) Whenever these topics come up, I am often reminded of Joseph Smith's quote (paraphrased because I choose not to look it up to get it exactly right) about finding eternal truth by proving contraries. I sometimes wonder what real truths are lingering in these seeming contradictions between our universalistic beliefs and our non-univerlastic beliefs (is there a better opposite term for not universalism?).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/15/2022 at 10:24 AM, mikbone said:

I find it amusing that the very first quote states that there is no official declaration either way, but then it proceeds to provide all the quotes on one side only.  Yes, that was the title of the page.  But to what end?

And all pages like this always include the following quote as if it supports the idea (which it does not):

Quote

“Once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but the privilege of passing from one to another (though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters) is not provided for.”

-Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 14:87 [November 1910]

This is explicitly stating that this is NOT a sound doctrine, and he only supposes that exceptions may exist.  But as a rule, it is not provided for.

*

I always accept and admit that there has been no official declaration of the doctrine of progression between kingdoms.  But this seems to be a binary answer.  As such, I see the following:

  • If false, let's not continue saying it could be the case, lest people get the wrong idea.
  • If true, it is still a dangerous doctrine to be spreading. 

The doctrine of the Three Degrees was withheld from mankind prior to the Resurrection for a reason.  Man was not ready for it.  As it is, if this "open kingdoms" (to coin a phrase) doctrine is true, is man ready for it?  It is all too easy to interpret this as:

Quote

And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

  -- 2 Ne 28:8

I cannot come to any logical thought that would conclude that teaching the doctrine of progression between kingdoms will result in anything other than this mentality.  Even it if is true, what good can come of teaching it with the state of man today?

Alma warns us about this very mindset.

Quote

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

 -- Alma 34:34-35

Whatever that "exception" may be (if there is one or a few) it should be obvious that there is a very strong tendency (and possibly, inevitability) to maintain our current attitudes towards obedience and faith (we can call it a "mindset") after we leave this life.  And it is that "mindset" that will determine just how far we can go.

If complete progress is truly open for all, then that means there really is no separation at all.  So this doctrine of the three degrees is meaningless.  I would think that if the doctrine of "open kingdoms" is true at all, it would be only in the rarest of circumstances (as Pres. Smith said in the quote above).  If the kingdoms truly are open, then what does the doctrine of the three degrees even mean?

Edited by Carborendum
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

I cannot come to any logical thought that would conclude that teaching the doctrine of progression between kingdoms will result in anything other than this mentality.  Even it if is true, what good can come of teaching it with the state of man today?

I agree.

It is esoteric doctrine to the extreme.  It does no good to base your salvation on esoteric doctrine.  Although, it's fun to consider the possibilities...

Personally, I will base my salvation on core or eternal doctrine like Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, MrShorty said:

3) While Br. Goddard didn't mention any "sad heaven" scenarios, I naturally reflected on my own "sad heaven." As Elder Holland told PBS, heaven just won't be heaven without my wife and children, but my wife and children have all left the church. Some (pointing to some statements by Pres. Nelson) will claim that, barring repentance during this life, my family will not make it to the CK. 

And this is the interesting thing.  The Givenses (who I think Goddard is responding to) argue that part of God’s greatness and condescension lies in His having set His heart upon us and having made Himself truly vulnerable, such that our pains and disobedience—and even the loss of our very souls—could cause Him sorrow (I’m not taking about Christ in the Garden here; I’m taking about God [the Father] weeping before Enoch). If God will ultimately exalt (not just “save”) everyone, and none of His children are truly lost to Him, then the sort of Givensesque condescension/vulnerability feels a little . . . cheaper.  “Yeah, God’s greatness lies in His ability to feel sorrow—but since no one’s really lost, He doesn’t really feel sorrow.”

CS Lewis, of course, proposed in The Great Divorce (I think echoing most mainstream Christians) that the saved—and presumably God Himself—are miraculously impassive in the face of the loss/suffering of the damned.  As I recall Lewis doesn’t really explain how this can be; he merely argues that it would be contrary to the order of heaven for a sinner to be able to deprive the saved of any of their eternal joy through their pining for the sinner’s loss.

Elder Holland seems to disagree with Lewis, but I’m not convinced we can say that “official LDS doctrine” requires Holland’s or Lewis’s approach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Progression between kingdoms will never equal everyone out.  If I make it to the Celestial Kingdom and @Just_A_Guy makes it to the telestial kingdom, but we both receive the gift of eternal progression, JAG will eventually achieve the Celestial Kingdom, but will never catch up to me as I have also continued to progress. 

 

I have no problem with the idea of progression between kingdoms.  I still am shooting for the top as it is in my best interests.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, mirkwood said:

Progression between kingdoms will never equal everyone out.  If I make it to the Celestial Kingdom and @Just_A_Guy makes it to the telestial kingdom, but we both receive the gift of eternal progression, JAG will eventually achieve the Celestial Kingdom, but will never catch up to me as I have also continued to progress. 

 

I have no problem with the idea of progression between kingdoms.  I still am shooting for the top as it is in my best interests.

Yeah, I don’t have any emotional/ theological/ “moral” problem with it.  I just think that building one’s life around the concept is a heckuva risk to take, given the dearth of canonized information directly supporting the concept.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, mirkwood said:

Progression between kingdoms will never equal everyone out.

D&C 130

18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

 

For example say I want to go to medical school.  But during  my first 2 years in college I acquired a 2.00 GPA.  It is possible to overcome this pitfall, but highly improbable.

 

 

Edited by mikbone
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Elder Holland seems to disagree with Lewis, but I’m not convinced we can say that “official LDS doctrine” requires Holland’s or Lewis’s approach.

Well, the very passage you referenced (Enoch) says that God wept because of the wickedness of men.  Additionally, we know that translated beings (and I don't think it a great leap to carry the attribution to celestial beings) feel sorrow for the sins of the world (3 Ne 28:9).

That seems like pretty official LDS doctrine to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think God has or ever will set a point in time (i.e. the end of our mortal probation) where he says our fate is sealed no matter how much we might be willing to progress in the future. There is no perfect mercy in that scenario, in my mind. 

So that leads me to wonder if there is another reason which might allow God to make permanent assignments to kingdoms of glory following this life. We are taught that the past, present and future are always before God as one eternal now. However that is possible perhaps there was never any doubt in His mind (and possibly even ours?) where every single soul should end up or in other words how far each of us would progress and the conditions we find ourselves in this life are simply geared to further that reality. This could be one explanation of why so many followed Satan because they did not like where they were heading under God's plan for His children.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I wrote words in a reply just recently and tried to post them and they got wiped.  Maybe the LORD wanted me to say something different.  So here I go again.

In my own opinion I do not believe in progression between kingdoms of glory but I could be wrong.  I feel like I am so lacking in worthiness to qualify any glory in the next life.  But I like these words written below:

"The mortal probation is provided as an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity, no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came."  -- James Talmage

I love the way President Gordon Hinckley used to teach this principle. I heard him say, “Brothers and sisters, all the LORD expects of us is to try, but you have to really try!”

So, to all who read this, keep trying and working toward the Kingdom of God in your mortal journey.  

“Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.  The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game."  (-- Elder J. Devn Cornish) 

So, do not rationalize or rebel.  Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  If you fall once or a thousand times, just get up again and keep moving toward the LORD.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...