I’ve always taken it as a given that Mormonism’s view of the afterlife shuffle has always been more universalizing than most of the other alternatives. Our formulation of heaven intuitively accommodates for the varying levels of understanding people can achieve in this life and in the spirit world: instead of a binary — heaven and hell — we have glories of heaven. So, we can safely say that although most people aren’t Mormons, most people won’t go to “Hell,” or at least, not the kind of Hell that many non-LDS religious people want to posit for nonbelievers of their religions. Regardless of people’s disagreements with the particulars of exaltation for the celestial aspirants, things actually look pretty good for the rest of us non-celestial people.
That being said, we do know that there is a divider between the glories and the non-glories. We have that ominous concept: Outer Darkness. But what does it mean? Who is it for?
Just as I’ve always taken Mormonism’s after life to be so much more universal than other afterlife formulations, I’ve naturally wanted to stretch out this universalism. So, my understanding has always been that the three glories of heaven will be quite generously populated and that outer darkness will be sparse and lonely indeed.
I took for granted that to qualify for this terrible anti-prize of complete separation, a person would have to try pretty hard. I didn’t think it was like a Sierra game, where you can accidentally and irreversibly render the entire game unwinnable within the first five minutes of turning on the game. Instead, you had to do specific (and unlikely) things. Like, say, come to a fulness of the gospel, have an amazing experience as consequence of your full understanding (like, I dunno, see God), and then walk away from in all with rejection. And then, only after all of this, could you win your new prize of total estrangement from their Heavenly Father.
Even then…this consequence wouldn’t be something that God sentenced someone to. Rather, it would be an individual’s choice to walk away from it all after having seen so much.
That was how I understood it. So, when I realized that I — gasp — didn’t believe in the church’s teachings, the “what if” scenario for if the church ended up being correct anyway didn’t bother me. I would accept whatever I got, but my understanding was that I wouldn’t quite qualify for outer darkness.
…But it all hinges on what it means to have the fulness of the Gospel. After all, it might not mean the amazingness of seeing God face-to-face. We often say that we have the fulness of the Gospel. In this case, would this mean that all ex-Mormons are hosed?
31 Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—
Better off if we had never been born..?
The criteria here for receiving these scathing descriptors doesn’t seem too difficult to reach: just deny the Holy Ghost after having received it.
In the church, every member who is baptized has the laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. If we use that as the yardstick, then wouldn’t any apostate become one for who “it had been better for them never to have been born”?
Is this scripture one of the straightforward ones…or is it one that needs to be looked at more carefully? What do you say?