Friday, August 21, 2009

Progression Between Kingdoms

Three Degrees of Glory.  Kingdoms of Glory.  Eternal Life.

LDS Church doctrine states that there are 3 heavens where inhabitants of this earth can go after their probationary state is over:  The Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, and Telestial Kingdom.  These are described at length by the Prophet Joseph Smith in D&C 76, also commonly referred to as "The Vision."  We believe that when Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2), He meant it.  Paul speaks of these kingdoms twice (I Cor. 15:40-42 and II Cor. 12:2), and for us Mormons, these biblical scriptures correspond nicely with what we believe.

While the existance and belief in these "degrees of glory" has rarely been an issue with Mormons, the possibility of progression between them after assignment has been a source of controversy for quite some time.  There has been some debate among members of the Church whether the ability will be given to move between kingdoms.  Depending upon the source used by students of this doctrine, it can go either way.  In other words, you will find Church authorities come down on both sides of this discussion. 

Here are the sources that I have found as I've studied this.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of quotes about the subject.  I will update this periodically as I find/learn more.  I list whether the reference is pro or anti-progression, along with the individual who is responsible for the reference.  I also have the Church calling for that individual at the time the reference was recorded.  In between the lines of equal signs is hopefully a faithful and verbatim reproduction of what the individual intended to convey.  If there are spelling, punctionation or other errors, they are most likely mine.

Against Progression - Bruce R. McConkie (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Seven Deadly Heresies; BYU Marriott Center,  June 1, 1980
Now let me list some axioms. I guess in academic circles we call these caveats:

• There is no salvation in believing a false doctrine.
• Truth, diamond truth, truth unmixed with error, truth alone leads to salvation.
• What we believe determines what we do.
• No man can be saved in ignorance of God and his laws.
• Man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge of Jesus Christ and the saving truths of his everlasting gospel.
• Gospel doctrines belong to the Lord, not to men. They are His. He ordained them, he reveals them, and he expects us to believe them.
• The doctrines of salvation are not discovered in the laboratory or on a geological field trip or by accompanying Darwin around the world. They come by revelation and in no other way.
• Our sole concern in seeking truth should be to learn and believe what the Lord knows and believes. Providentially he has set forth some of his views in the Holy Scriptures. Our goal as mortals is to gain the mind of Christ, to believe what he believes, to think what he thinks, to say what he says, to do what he does, and to be as he is.
• We are called upon to reject all heresies and cleave unto all truth. Only then can we progress according to the divine plan.

Heresy five: There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or if not that, lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were. This is worse than false. It is an evil and pernicious doctrine. It lulls men into a state of carnal security. It causes them to say, “God is so merciful; surely he will save us all eventually; if we do not gain the celestial kingdom now, eventually we will; so why worry?” It lets people live a life of sin here and now with the hope that they will be saved eventually.

The true doctrine is that all men will be resurrected, but they will come forth in the resurrection with different kinds of bodies-some celestial, others terrestrial, others telestial, and some with bodies incapable of standing any degree of glory. The body we receive in the resurrection determines the glory we receive in the kingdoms that are prepared.

Of those in the telestial world it is written: “And they shall be servants of the Most High, but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end” [D&C 76:112; emphasis mine].

Of those who remain unmarried in eternity, the revelation says: “Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven; which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory” [D&C 132:16].

Let me amend that, amend what I said, that is referring to people who had opportunity to be married right in this life and who were not. Of them, the revelation continues: “For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever” [D&C 132:17].

They neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, is in a sphere.

Commentary on this:
Obviously Elder McConkie is against progression between kingdoms and his arguments are well thought out and logical.  It is hard to argue with him.  Most members of the Church today espouse this same opinion and have jumped right in line with him on this doctrinal explanation.  If asked, the vast majority of church members would repeat that progression is not possible between kingdoms. 

I'll go out on a limb here:  Currently if members state that there is progression between kingdoms, they are thought of as believing in an apostate doctrine.  This specific belief definitely won't result in disfellowshipping them or excommunicating them (unless they're told not to teach this and then still do ... that would be apostasy against Church leaders).  It is a doctrine that is "out there" however and not in the normal main stream of Mormon theological thinking of today.

Bruce is always an interesting read.  He is very black and white, right and wrong, no deviation from the accepted path.  If your views differ from his, then you're wrong and in need of repentence.

Against Progression - Bruce R. McConkie (Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy)
Reference:  Mormon Doctrine, pp. 685-687; Second Chance Theory
There is no such thing as a second chance to gain salvation by accepting the gospel in the spirit world after spurning, declining, or refusing to accept it in this life. ... Thus the false and heretical doctrine that people who fail to live the law in this life (having had an opportunity so to do) will have a further chance of salvation in the life to come is a soul-destroying doctrine, a doctrine that lulls its adherents into a carnal security and thereby denies them a hope of eternal salvation (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, pp. 181-196).

For Progression/Neutral - James E. Talmage (Educator, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Articles of Faith (book)
Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage (1st Edition, 1899, pp. 420-421)

It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.

Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage, 1917 edition

It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation, by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for.  But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.

Articles of Faith, James E. Talmage (12th Edition p. 409)

It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation, by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for; though as to possible progress from one kingdom to another the scriptures make no positive affirmation. Eternal advancement along different lines is conceivable. We may conclude that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.

Commentary on this:
I've highlighted the changes from the previous version(s) in bold red.  The first has no red -- it is the original.  The second, in 1917, had once sentence changed, and the third removed an entire sentence completely changing the doctrine discussed compared with previous editions of the book.

Clearly in the First edition of his book, he wrote that progression between kingdoms was probable.  However, in subsequent revisions of the book, his stance on progression becomes weaker.  Because he does not come out directly and say progression isn't possible, I leave him as a pro/neutral entry on this list.

For Progression - Brigham Young (Prophet)
Reference:  Journal of Wilford Woodruff, 5 Aug 1855
I attended the Prayer Circle in the evening … In conversing upon various principles President Young said none would inherit this Earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods and able to endure the fullness of the presence of God, except they would be permitted to take with them some servants for whom they would be held responsible. All others would have to inherit another kingdom, even that kingdom agreeing with the law which they had kept. He said they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom, but it would be a slow progress.

For Progression/Neutral - Wilford Woodruff (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Journal of Discourses, Volume 6:120, December 6, 1857
If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent creature.  God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end.  It is just so with us.  We are in probation, which is a school of experience.

Commentary on this:
The above quote opens the door for another subject (does God progress in knowledge), but that's not why I included the quote.  I mark this a "for" progression because he states that if there were none, he would be very depressed.  His argument is that God is continually progressing, so we as children of God are as well.  I also marked it "neutral" because his statement is wide open to interpretation; however, it certainly isn't a negative "progression isn't possible" thought.

For Progression - Hyrum Smith (Assistant President of the Church, Church Patriarch, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  August 1, 1843, transcribed by Franklin D. Richards; Words of the Prophet, pg. 24; CHO Ms/d/4409/Misc Minutes Collection
Hiram [Smith] said Aug 1st [18]43 Those of the Terrestrial Glory either advance to the Celestial or recede to the Telestial [or] else the moon could not be a type [viz. a symbol of that kingdom]. [for] it [the moon] "waxes & wanes". Also that br George will be quickened by celestial glory having been ministered to by one of that Kingdom.

For Progression - Franklin D. Richards (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Journal of Discourses, Volume 25:236, May 17, 1884
The Savior tells us that the terrestrial glory, or kingdom, is likened unto the glory of the moon, which is not of the brightness of the sun, neither of the smallness nor dimness of the stars. But those others who have no part in marrying or giving of marriage in the last resurrection, they become as stars, and even differ from each other in glory; but those in the terrestrial kingdom are those who will come forth at the time when Enoch comes back, when the Savior comes again to dwell upon the earth; when Father Abraham will be there with the Urim and Thummim to look after every son and daughter of his race; to make known all things that are needed to be known, and with them enter into their promised inheritance. Thus the people of God will go forward. They will go forward, like unto the new moon, increasing in knowledge and brightness and glory, until they come to a fullness of celestial glory.

Against Progression/Neutral - Joseph F. Smith (Prophet)
Reference:  Improvement Era 14:87 [November 1910]
“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.”

Commentary on this:
Except for "especially gifted and faithful character."  Well, that's got to be me - probably a few others as well.  This statement sounds affirmative to me; however, I left it as neutral because he slammed it shut at the end:  "not provided for".  So, which one is it?  It either it is possible, or it's not.

Against Progression - Joseph Fielding Smith (President of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 2, pp. 31-34 [published 1955]
It has been asked if it is possible for one who inherits the telestial glory to advance in time to the celestial glory?

The answer to this question is, No!

The scriptures are clear on this point.  Speaking of those who go to the telestial kingdom, the revelation says: "And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end" (D&C 76:112).

Notwithstanding this statement, those who do not comprehend the word of the Lord argue that while this is true, that they cannot go where God is "worlds without end," yet in time they will get where God was, but he will have gone on to other heights.

This is false reasoning, illogical, and creates mischief in making people think they may procrastinate their repentence, but in course of time they will reach exaltation in celestial glory.

Now let us see how faulty this reasoning is.  If in time those who enter the telestial glory may progress till they reach the stage in which the celestial is in now - then they are in celestial glory, are they not, even if the celestial has advanced?  That being the case (I state this for the argument only, for it is not true), then they partake of all the blessings which are now celestial.  That means that they become gods, have exaltation, gain the fulness of the Father, and receive a continuation of the "seeds forever."  The Lord, however, has said that these blessings, which are celestial blessings, they may never have; they are barred forever!

The celestial and terrestrial and telestial glories, I have heard compared to the wheels on a train.  The second and third may, and will, reach the place where the first was, but the first will have moved on and will still be just the same distance in advance of them.  This illustration is not true!  The wheels do not run on the same track, and do not go in the same direction.  The terrestrial and the telestial are limited in their powers of advancement, worlds without end.

Commentary on this:
Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie both have the same logic, the same scripture (D&C 76:112), and the same reasoning to defend their positions on this topic.  I think about this wondering if McConkie's marriage to the daughter of Joseph Fielding Smith (and the possible doctrinal discussions  that followed, or the publishing of books like Doctrines of Salvation) had any influence upon his view of progression?  Probably not, but ...

Against Progression/Neutral - John A. Widtsoe (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Fundamentals of Temple Doctrine; Utah Genealogical and Historial Magazine, 13 (1922):132
After reading Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, it seems that hell is to find ourselves in an inferior position and conditions, and to know that we might have been, by our efforts, in a higher and more glorious place, had we exercised our free agency more vigorously for better things.  Moreover our punishment stands, at least measurably, throughout the endless ages, because as we go onward, those above us go onward also, and the relative positions remain the same.  This is the just but fearful punishment of evil doing.

Commentary on this:
Apparently Elder Widtsoe believes that the kingdoms are on the same track, and keep their relative positions from each other.  It is therefore reasonable to extrapolate this though into the thinking that lower kingdoms progress to where upper kingdoms once were.  It is for this opinion that I have marked his thinking as "neutral".  He does not discuss moving from one kingdom to another, just the punishment and agony we'll be in knowing we could have done better.  It is for this series of thoughts that I marked him "against progression".

For Progression - B.H. Roberts (Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy)
Reference:  New Witnesses for God, Volume 1; pp. 391-392
These are the great divisions of glory in the world to come, but there are subdivisions or degrees.  Of the telestial glory it is written: "And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one, for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world" [D&C 76:98].  From this it is evident that there are different degrees of glory within the celestial and the telestial glories; and though we have no direct authority for the statement, it seems but reasonable to conclude that there are different degrees of glory in the terrestrial world also.  It appears but rational that it should be so, since the degrees of worthiness in men are almost infinite in their variety; and as every man is to be judged according to his works, it will require a corresponding infinity of degrees in glory to mete out to every man that reward of which he is worthy, and that also which his intelligence will enable him to enjoy.

The question of advancement within the great divisions of glory celestial, terrestrial, and telestial; as also the question of advancement from one sphere of glory to another remains to be considered..  In the revelation from which we have summarized what has been written here, in respect to the different degrees of glory, it is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial - that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser glory.  I can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father's children along the lines of eternal progression.  Whether or not in the great future, full of so many possibilities now hidden from us, they of the lesser glories after education and advancement within those spheres may at last emerge from them and make their way to the higher degrees of glory until at last they attain to the highest, is not revealed in the revelations of God, and any statement made on the subject must partake more or less of the nature of conjecture.  But if it be granted that such a thing is possible, they who at the first entered into the celestial glory - having before them the privilege also of eternal progress - have been moving onward, so that the relative distance between them and those who have fought their way up from the lesser glories may be as great when the latter have come into the degrees of celestial glory in which the righteous at first stood, as it was at the commencement.  Thus:  Those whose faith and works are such only as to enable them to inherit a telestial glory, may arrive at last where those whose works in this life were such as to enable them to entrance into the celestial kingdom - they may arrive where these were, but never where they are.

For Progression - B.H. Roberts (Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy)
Reference:  Outlines of Ecclesiastical History, pp. 416-17
20. But if it be granted that such a thing is possible, they who at the first entered into the celestial glory-having before them the privilege also of eternal progress-have been moving onward, so that the relative distance between them and those who have fought their way up from the lesser glories, may be as great when the latter have come into the degrees of celestial glory in which the righteous at first stood, as it was at the commencement; and thus between them is an impassable gulf which time cannot destroy. Thus: those whose faith and works are such only as to entitle them to inherit a telestial glory, may arrive at last where those whose works in this life were such as to entitle them to entrance into the celestial kingdom-they may arrive where these were, but never where they are. But if it be granted that the chief fact about Intelligences is that they have power to add fact to fact and thus build up knowledge, and through knowledge have wisdom, and thus make progress; and if to such intelligences there is granted eternal life-immortality -then it is useless to postulate any limitations for them; for in the passing of even a few thousands of millions of years, even if progress be very slow-there will come a time when these intelligences-men and women of even the telestial glory-may become very acceptable characters, and very important personages. 
Commentary on this:
This is almost the same quote as from New Witnesses For God above, but it is has more information in it.  Paragraph #19 - just before this one - starts out with "the question of advancement" just like in the second paragraph in his previous quote.

For Progression - B.H. Roberts (Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy)
Reference:  Collected Discourses, Volume 5, June 21, 1896
And it shall be preached until every soul shall hear, and it shall continue to work with those who are the offspring of God until every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess. Salvation, in some order of its many degrees, shall meet the soul of every man and every woman, bringing them unto that exaltation that their souls are capable of receiving, and saving them unto the uttermost-not all alike, any more than men are all alike here, no more than conditions are all alike here; but as the stars differ from each other in brightness or glory, so shall the rewards of men differ in the world which is to come, even "according to their works." But no man shall be left out of the mercy and the grace of God, except only those who do violence unto it, after having once received it; for the crime of high treason against God, and a repudiation of the plan of life and salvation after having received it, merits such punishment and such destruction as is known only to God. But the remainder of the children of God shall find rest in some one of the many divisions of glory that are to be found in the kingdom of God, and shall find peace and glory equal to the development that they have made or are capable of making with the grand opportunities that will be presented to them, until progress shall be made from glory to glory, until every soul shall contain all that it is possible for it to receive, even endless progression. For God has decreed that those of the celestial glory, that is after the resurrection, shall minister to those of the terrestrial glory, and those of the terrestrial glory shall minister to them of the telestial glory; and I can conceive no reason why there should be this continual ministration of the higher to the lower glory but for the purpose of exalting all to a higher plane of glory, in the direction of the eternal progression which God has opened to the children of men. This explanation Mormonism makes possible to these facts that we see before us, and which are otherwise inexplicable.

For Progression - J. Reuben Clark (First Councilor in the First Presidency to President McKay)
Reference:  Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3
I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here.  It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can:  and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come.

For Progression - Lorenzo Snow (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Collected Discourses 3:364-65; General Conference Address, 6 October 1893
God has fulfilled His promises to us, and our prospects are grand and glorious.  Yes, in the next life we will have our wives, and our sons and daughters.  If we do not get them all at once, we will have them some time, for every knee shall bow and ever tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ.  You that are mourning about your children straying away will have your sons and your daughters.  If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory.  This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains.  Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels.  Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity.  When Jesus went through that terrible torture on the cross, Hesaw what would be accomplished by it; He saw that His brethren and sisters - the sons and daughters of God - would be gathered in, with but few exceptions - those who committed the unpardonable sin.  That sacrifice of the divine Being was effectual to destroy the powers of Satan.  I believe that every man and woman who comes into this life and passes through it, that life will be a success in the end.  It may not be in this life.  It was not with the antediluvians.  They passed through troubles and afflictions; 2,500 years after that, when Jesus went to preach to them, the dead heard the voice of the Son of God and they lived.  They found after all that it was a very good thing that they had conformed to the will of God in leaving the spiritual life and passing through this world.

Against Progression - Melvin J. Ballard (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  Three Degrees of Glory (pamphlet), discourse delivered September 22, 1922
Now I wish to answer one or two queries that undoubtedly have arisen in your minds, and in doing so I wish to read some more scripture.  The questions is often asked, "Is it possible for one who attains telestial glory in time in the eternal world to live so well that he may graduate from the telestial and pass into the terrestrial, and then after a season that he may progress from that and be ultimately worthy of the celestial glory?"  That is the query that has been asked.  I have just read the answer, so far as the telestial group is concerned.  "Where God and Christ dwell then cannot come, worlds without end."  I take it upon the same basis, the same argument likewise applies to the terrestrial world.  Those whose lives have entitled them to terrestrial glory can never gain celestial glory.  One who gains possession of the lowest degree of the telestial glory may ultimately arise to the highest degree of that glory, but no provision has been made for promotion from one glory to another.

Against Progression - Spencer W. Kimball (Member of the Quorum of the Twelve)
Reference:  The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 243-44 (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pg. 50)
Exaltation in the celestial kingdom will be granted to those only who enter and faithfully observe the convenant of celestial marriage.  Christ says in unmistable terms:
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens, or degrees.

"And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

"And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

"He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase."
[D&C 131:1-4; italics added]
He cannot have an increase!  He cannot have exaltation!  That means worlds without end.  After a person has been assigned to his place in the kingdom, either in the telestial, the terrestrial, or the celestial, or to his exaltation, he will never advance from his assigned glory to another glory.  That is eternal!  That is why we must make our decisions early in life and why it is imperative that such decisions are right.

Against Progression - George Albert Smith (Prophet)
Reference:  Conference Report, October 7, 1945; Third Day - Afternoon Meeting, p. 172
And may I say that there are comparatively few people in all the world who understand that there will be a resurrection.  The Lord has again revealed this in our day.  He has impressed it upon us and has given us to understand that when the time comes for that resurrection, if we are worthy that we will be quickened celestial bodies, and from then on, we will dwell in the celestial kingdom, the highest of all kingdoms.  But he has taught us also that there are other places where we may go.  If we don't want to go to the celestial kingdom, by being less careful and particular about keeping the commandments of God, we may go into the terrestrial kingdom, and if we are still more careless, we may find our way into the telestial kingdom, which is the least of the kingdoms of glory.

There are some people who have supposed that if we are quickened telestial bodies that eventually, throughout the ages of enternity, we will continue to progress until we will find our place in the celestial kingdom, but the scriptures and revelations of God have said that those who are quickened telestial bodies cannot come were God and Christ dwell, worlds without end.

Against Progression - John A. Widtsoe (Member of the Twelve)
Reference:  Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 204
In the final judgment, all the earth children of the Lord will be assigned places in one or the other of the three grand divisions or degrees of salvation, known to us from modern revelation as the three glories.  Each assignment will depend upon the use the candidate has made of the opportunities placed before him on earth and elsewhere.  "For they shall be judged according to their works" (D&C 76:111).  By his own acts each person has shown his fitness to participate in the activities of this or that glory.  It would be useless to place him higher than his capabilities would permit, and unfair to place him lower.  If placed too high, he would not be competent or happy there, nor could he be content if placed too low.  The degree of salvation of necessity corresponds, under the merciful justice of the Lord, with the demonstrated worthiness, capacity, and capability of each individual.  The final judgment is individual.

Within each glory, however, there may be advancement.  The law of progress may be utilized by every intelligence in the universe.  Those who inherit the telestial, terrestrial, or celestial glories may progress, and progress eternally.  But, let it ever be remembered that the power to progress is greatest in the celestial glory, and is decreasingly smaller in the lower glories.  There can be no talk, therefore, of those in the lower places overtaking those in the higher, any more than an automobile traveling at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour can overtake one moving at the rate of fifty miles an hour.

They who inherit the celestial glory will dwell in the presence of the Father and the Son.  They are kings and priests.  From that glory issues the power of God, known to us as the Priesthood of the Lord.  In that glory certain conditions of joy belong which are absent in the other glories.  They who have inherited the lesser glories will receive a salvation so glorious as to be beyond the understanding of man - that has been revealed to us - but, "where God and Christ dwell they can not come worlds without end" (D&C 76:112).

Neutral - Secretary to the First Presidency in a 1952 letter; and again in 1965
The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.

Bottom line for this discussion is that there is no revealed word to clarify the true doctrine.  While there is no salvation for believing an untrue doctrine, it is my belief that where there is no revelation, God will not hold us responsible.  In other words, ASK (Ask, Seek, Knock) to find out for yourself.


  1. Elder McConkie's comment, "This is worse than false." caught my attention, given his "black and white" makeup.

    As I thought more on it, it makes perfect sense. What could be worse than a false doctrine? Teaching and/or receiving a true doctrine before one is sufficiently prepared.

    Jesus warned, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." Matt 7:6.

    Bruce R. was point-on when he explained how such a doctrine, openly taught would cripple a fundamental purpose for mortality, causing a great number to drift and wane from eternity to eternity with little or no progression.

    Regarding mortality, there is good reason for loss of pre-mortal memory, careful effort to preserve the need for faith, and time limits bound by birth and death, etc.

    These things arouse our faculties and motivate us to press onward through adversity to develop our character and attributes and keep us on the progressive path to perfection and oneness with God.

    Regardless of my personal tendencies regarding the matter, I think the only course of action must be in harmony with the Church.

    I think we all need to focus on the first principles and endure to the other words, embrace and teach the doctrine of Christ and let the mysteries alone. There is mystery enough just striving to understand the basics of Faith 101.

    The mysteries are attainable, but where much is given, much is expected. The abuse of such knowledge and the temptation to share it beyond the limits of our own allotted acreage of stewardship is perilous at best. There is much to be said about keeping personal revelation on the mysteries...personal.

    Martin Whitrock

  2. Excellent article, thank you for taking the time to research and set forth the varying quotes and points of view.

  3. Great post and excellant references, and I disagree with Martin. We are not supposed to be content with milk. But of course, you may choose only the milk and hence remain in this kingdom. I identify with the Wilford Woodruff quote:
    "If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent creature."