The Gospel of Mormonism: The Law Of Eternal Progression
The Plan of Salvation (Gospel) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) basically answers three questions. They are: (1) Where did man come from? (2) Why is man here? (3) Where is man going? This chart briefly outlines the Mormon answer to these three questions.
This brief outline is documented from Mormon Doctrine (1966 ed) by Bruce R. McConkie, one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church until his death in 1984. For further documentation, please see related articles in this issue. A Biblical response to the same three questions is also provided elsewhere in this issue.
QUESTION 1: Where did man come from?
Mormonism teaches that God (Heavenly Father Elohim) lives on a distant planet that orbits a huge star called Kolob with one or more Goddess wives (Heavenly Mother).
Before coming to this earth, all humans were begotten by our heavenly parents and were born with spirit bodies (Mormon Doctrine p. 428, 516-17).
Two of man's older brothers, Jesus and his spirit brother Lucifer, both wanted to be savior. When Jesus was chosen, Lucifer rebelled and convinced one third of the spririt brothers to fight with him and revolt.
All pre-mortal humans participated in this war. Those who fought on the side of Lucifer became the demons (Ibid p. 826, 193). Those who fought most valiantly on the side of Jesus and Elohim were born in Mormon families. Those who were "not valiant" were cursed to never receive the LDS priesthood and they were to be born with black skin to identify the curse (Ibid, p. 526-28).
[Note: in 1978 the "curse" of the blacks was lifted and subsequent editions of Mormon Doctrine, and corrections in post 1981 versions of the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:6) reflect this change.]
QUESTION 2: Why is man here?
Mormonism teaches that mankind is on Earth (also known as the Second Estate) in order to progress. Among other things, this progressing involves:
1. Receiving a body of flesh and bone
2. Experiencing sin
3. Have faith in Christ and Gospel
5. Baptism by LDS Priest
6. Receive Holy Ghost by laying on of hands
7. Obedience to the "laws and ordinances of the Gospel"
8. Gain a Temple Recommend by paying a full tithe, keeping dietary laws (i.e. no coffee or tea), maintaining personal worthiness.
9. Receive endowment, marriage and ceiling for time and all eternity in the LDS temple ceremony. (Ibid, pp. 331-34, 575-76, 620, 851, 227-28).
Question 3: Where is man going?
This question deals with the subject of life after death and can be answered in two parts - The immediate afterlife and mans eternal destiny.
The Immediate Afterlife
Mormonism teaches that at death everyone immediately goes to one of two locations: Paradise or Spirit Prison (Hell)
Paradise is a temporary state reserved for those who are described as "righteous spirits." (Ibid, p. 554-55).
In modern times this most likely refers to those who have been obedient to the Law of Eternal Progression (the Mormon Gospel).
Spirit Prison (Hell)
Spirit Prison, also called Hell is "that portion of the spirit world where the wicked [who have died] dwell" (Ibid, p. 755).
However this is not the eternal state of those who have rejected the principles and ordinances of the LDS Gospel.
Since the death of Christ, righteous spirits (i.e. Mormons) from Paradise can visit those disobedient spirits in hell. At this time, "righteous spirits in paradise have been commissioned to carry the message of salvation to the wicked spirits in hell, there is a certain amount of mingling together of the good and bad spirits," (Ibid).
Through baptism for the dead and proxy marriage for the dead in LDS temples, the non-Mormon spirits in hell can receive the benefits of the LDS Gospel through repentance.
Man's Eternal Destiny
After the Second Coming of Christ and the final resurrection of all men, the last judgement will take place when everyone will be judged by their obedience to the law. Based on that obedience, everyone (except "Sons of Perdition") will go to one of three degrees of glory (levels of Heaven) - The Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, or the Telestial Kingdom (Ibid, p. 401-04, 347-48).
The Celestial Kingdom
The highest kingdom, the Celestial, is reserved for those who have been obedient to the LDS gospel and have, "gained complete obedience to gospel or celestial law" (Ibid, p. 116).
The Celestial Kingdom itself is divided into three categories. Those who are worth and have been married for time and all eternity in LDS temples can achieve celestial exaltation in the highest of the Celestial degrees and can become Gods (husbands) and Goddesses (wives). In turn, they will rule and reign over their own new earth. They will procreate millions of new spirit children who will populate this new planet and the whole Law of Progression begins again (Ibid, p. 321-22).
This Kingdom is the eternal destiny of four types of people. Those who: (1) are "accountable" but die without knowing the Law of Progression, (2) willfully reject the LDS gospel in this life but accept it in spirit prison hell, (3) "Honorable men" blinded by craftiness, and (4) Mormons who are "not valiant, but who are instead luke-warm in their devotion to the Church and to righteousness." (Ibid, p. 784).
This degree of heaven is reserved for wicked, "who have lived, after the manner of the world; who have been carnal, sensual and devilish. [including] sorcerers and adulterers, blasphemers and murderers." The majority of mankind will go here.
This "degree of glory" is better than earth and "surpasses all mortal understanding, but is far less than the glory received in the higher degrees," (Ibid, p. 778).
Mormonism teaches that their Heavenly Father (Elohim/God) was once a mortal man on another earth who was spiritually begotten by an earlier God and his wife. As a man, Elohim was obedient to the Gospel (Law of Progression) and thus became a God.
If Heavenly Father's children (Earth's human population) are obedient to the Mormon Gospel they too can become Gods and Goddesses of new planets (see Godhood, and God of Gods in Mormon Doctrine, pp. 321-22).
As man is,
God once was;
As God is,
Man may become
(Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow quoted in LDS Church News, Jan. 16, 1983, p. 14)