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?
Let’s look at some scriptures.
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?
Well, the way I see it under Mormon theology with the inability to eternally progress through the kingdoms, if you don’t make it to at least the lowest rung of the celestial glory ladder, then your procreative nookie possibilities throughout all eternity are cut off and that is pretty much defines, “better off never having been born.”
Either way, we are all going to hell or we are all going to be deprived coitus in the afterlife, again pretty much hell, so the fear based control of the religion stands pat. Although Andrew’s points are probably good for livening things up in Elder’s Quorum, so all the sons of perdition will feel guilty when they go home and watch football.
Great post and question, Andrew. My first thought as I read through these scriptures is the underlying message of fear. Fear is, and has always been, the greatest purveyor of control. One of the biggest purveyors of fear is religion–any kind. I am careful as I write, for ‘fear’ that what I’ll say will get parsed and piecemealed apart, but this is my COMMENT, my opinion and nothing more. (CYA complete–I hope).
The classic response to this doctrine has always been, in my experience, that a lay-person in the LDS Church does not have the fullness of the Gospel, as you stated earlier. But this is a classic example of when the doctrine doesn’t match…the doctrine. There are many examples of this in Mormondom–doctrines that are very difficult to swallow are whitewashed and morphed to be more palatable to those “milk drinkers”, while the more carnivorous Mormon, ready for meat, knows the “truth” but has such exceptional faith that stuff like this and the doctrine of polygamy in the afterlife are accepted, no questions asked. And this type of mentality is rewarded and aspired to!
To say that former Mormons, after having a ‘witness’ to the Holy Ghost are all doomed and should never have been born is, like anything else, a scare tactic for the members so that any thoughts of leaving are quashed and, if all of the other trappings fail, fear will keep them in check.
Joseph Smith (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith) made it seem like that those who go to outer darkness are not even most apostates. It was reserved for those who had had angelic or divine ministrations witnessed to by the Holy Ghost and THEN denied it. It was compared to saying the sun does not shine at noon day and to argue against anyone who claims it does shine.
Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but while I believe in the church, and there are some experiences which were pretty powerful to me, I’m also pretty sure that I have never seen an angel or had a divine ministration. It is my belief that the vast majority of church members never see Christ in this life (or even people anywhere).
I have heard people even say that not all of the Quorum of the Twelve would be considered sons of perdition, condemned to outer darkness for merely leaving the church (now if they actively lied about the church, knowing they did so, then it might be different).
Say what you will, it is my firm belief that as long as a person is actively seeking to do what they see as right in their innermost core, then they will be okay. Even if that leads them outside of the LDS church (note that some people within the church would argue that it is impossible to be truly seeking the truth and what is right and not find and/or stay within the church–I don’t agree with that).
It is the people who are fully aware of things and choose to fight against the truth. The real question is (at least in my mind): Why would anyone do that? To try to convince others that something they know is true with complete certainty is actually false. I look at the sun, see it shining, then try to convince others it is not. Why would anyone do that? But that is my understanding of what it takes to become consigned to outer darkness.
Based on your post, what do you see in this verse of scripture?
35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 88:35)
The surrounding scriptures are worth reading to gather in the interaction of law and justice.
You are to be commended for addressing one of the most complicated and deep subjects that there is…and one that affects us radically for all eternity. My take is based upon a few points that have been within my experience.
Starting with your last paragraphs about the Holy Ghost.
Even though we are ‘given’ the gift when confirmed, much depends upon us choosing to “RECEIVE” it into our being, our heart, the way we live each moment…ASKING for it to be WITH us and lead, comfort, and whatever else we need like inspiration and direction. That is part of our agency. To be worthy and to participate in the interaction and interdependence with that great spiritual being who has been assigned to ‘be’ and ‘do’ for us things pertaining to our spirit and mortal lives.
WHEN we sincerely activate his presence by receiving and LISTENING carefully…and THEN FOLLOW what He says…there is a personal exchange between us….like a filling of light, our hearts are changed after his touch…our minds are ENLIGHTENED and IN lighted. We KNOW that it was Him. We KNOW it with a deep knowing that NO ONE can refute.
Then, as we progress…..day by day..experience by experience…question and problem solved & answered time after time…line upon line, precept upon precept…that knowing Him, the Holy Ghost’s presence..that deep testimony that He has anchored inside, has truly…PERMANENTLY attached to our whole being at that point….when THAT kind of knowing that CAN ONLY BE DONE BY THE SPIRIT HOLY GHOST touching our SPIRIT………that is a SURE testimony. =SURE= being an important word here..because at this point, because a divine spirit has made a permanent imprint upon our spirit…it’s like Joseph Smith said about his vision of God.
He knew God knew He knew. He knew God knew that God knew…..There was NO doubt and the responsibility was complete for the knowing.
God is so just and fair. Law covers all, but mercy steps in. The Atonement is so complete and mercy-FULL. Repentance is a huge factor in our turning and returning to a full relationship with the Savior.
There is a saying that touches this conondrum.
“The best kept secret in the Church (of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints) today is the gospel”
Any ‘fear’ or ‘scare tactic’ is from the Adversary. A loving Heavenly Father never uses a tool of darkness to bring his children unto Him.
We are empowered to chose every step, every thought, every activation and reception of the Holy Ghost to get through our weaknesses and rise above the banal and darkness of living a mortal life.
Outer Darkness is not for anyone except those whom-after receiving a SURE witness, like in Calling and Election…where you KNOW CHRIST and have been SEALED UP TO ETERNAL LIFE in the SECOND ENDOWMENT….those who are FULL of a SURE testimony from the Holy Ghost and REALLY KNOW GOD and the ways of his kingdom….
that those kind of brothers and sister who might shed innocent blood of little children, etc…
Who DENY their sure testimony….who OPENLY REBEL against Christ, DENY HIM and His ATONEMENT…who openly FIGHT against and try to destroy the Kingdom…..
So much to explain…but hopefully I mentioned enough to shed a little more light on this sad subject.
It simply is not simple.
But, one thing for sure. It WILL be just.
Fair. Honest. Even LOVING.
God the Father would cease to be God if He did not follow fairly Eternal Law.
That is how He became God. HE IS LOVE. TOTAL LOVE – Light – Truth.
I am NOT kept “in check” by fear.
I have simply learned the difference between blessings and consequences of being dis-obedient.
My life is soooo soo so much happier, peaceful, successful, orderly, easier…more plentiful…WHEN I am willing to be worthy to have and then ask to receive the Holy Ghost.
Then my day is filled with LIGHT.
I have learned I like and prefer to be in LIGHT and will not chose anything that might become darkness…or end of in ‘outer darkness’ eventually.
We each desire for – seek for – crave – am comfortable in – a differing amount of light and truth.
As we chose that level..where we are comfortable…it may be IN or OUT of the LDS church. Since many other churches or methods of worship hold a differing measure of truth..each child of God is drawn / comfortable in THAT form and amount of worship & truth. They are for the most part sincere or even completely matched to that level of light according to the light which is IN THEM….or to that measure to which they DESIRE. Since no child of God is forced, and we are all accountable for those choices…WE and WE alone are chooing our kingdom of glory.
Since there are millions of kingdoms and unknown amounts of glory (glory is intelligence or truth and light)…there are some children who chose darkness over light.
There are, sadly, some who chose to rebel again the light, rebel against their SPECIAL testimony given spirit TO spirit (from the Holy Ghost) and chose darkness over light, even the brightest light.
Hence, a ‘kingdom’ of the darkest….where the worst of rebellion can live forever, made by THEIR OWN CHOICES (after a fair and loving judgement according to their understanding and correct knowledge)…that being ‘outer darkness’.
They did NOT want to be with God or IN any part of His various kingdoms. They were not comfortable in light and chose darkness and all opposites to God.
That is my testimony, There are load of scriptures to back, but I have an appointment.
Love to All
The scriptures you cite should be read in light of Joseph’s other comments on the matter, which you and others have alluded to above:
I think you’d be hard pressed to find an exmo that falls under this category.
I just came across your website and think its really cool, thanks for sharing a great post, look forward to reading more in the future.
Joseph was good at balancing fear and hope, pulling out the appropriate card for the given situation. Others would call that emotional manipulation.
Not only is life not a Sierra game–or any game, it is also not a trick question.
Apostate is simply an ugly word. It is such an ugly word, to me it feels like those who label people with it seem heartless.
Googling the word, I came across this “apostate-a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle. Recorded from Middle English, the word comes via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek apostatēs ‘apostate, runaway slave’.”
Runaway slave. Certainly puts a different twist on it.
My interpretation of mormon doctrine is that those who have received their second anointing (i.e. calling and election made sure) are the only ones who qualify for outer darkness. Those of us who have merely moved on to other churches are entitled to telestial glory.
Personally, I am glad not to participate in the LDS Celestial Apartheid in the next life.
Great post as always, Andrew. Ditto JulieAnn’s comment.
Arrgh! This post made me paranoid. Even though I no longer believe in any of the foundational or authority claims of the church – suddenly I had a panic attack reading those scriptures and hearing about my possible ultimate end. I am generally agnostic with atheistic leanings and very much even doubt there is an afterlife – nevertheless after a lifetime in the church it is freaking me out how I still respond to those fear tactics! Revealing!
On the other hand, maybe outer darkness is actually better than the Celestial Kingdom? At least I don’t have to be eternally pregnant there.
Wow. I didn’t realize my life was dark and banal. *smile*
Compared to what it was like living within the confines of religion, I consider my life to be downright blazing with light. Is there room in the mentality of Mormonism to accept that people not in your religions are happy, peaceful and have a life filled with Light?
re: #3– please explain “truth”, as in “It is the people who are fully aware of things and choose to fight against the truth.” What exactly is the ‘truth’? Because in my experience, ‘truth’ and ‘belief’ do not go hand in hand.
re: #5–whether or not you are aware of it, your post exemplifies the reason many former LDS members are so indignant and resentful. Let’s take a look at a couple of phrases for an example:
“We KNOW it with a deep knowing that NO ONE can refute.” I don’t refute your “knowing”; do you refute mine? I know that my experience is that your church is not only NOT the only and only true church, but that is has done harm to thousands of lives and people through it’s political activities. Can you refute my “knowing”, or is your knowing the only valid knowing because you’re ‘right’?
Any ‘fear’ or ’scare tactic’ is from the Adversary. A loving Heavenly Father never uses a tool of darkness to bring his children unto Him.
Ummm, I would call the threat of Outer Darkness, Hell, Perdition, even a life in the two “T” Kingdoms living like Ken dolls because we can’t make babies is pretty fear oriented. How is that “loving?” It is a threat. You may not feel fear because you have your belief system in place, but when your church preaches to a new family and asks “don’t you want to be with your children forever?” You are essentially telling them they will lose them if they aren’t sealed to them. As any parent can attest, that is a fearful and awful thing to say and assert.
We each desire for – seek for – crave – am comfortable in – a differing amount of light and truth.
As we chose that level..where we are comfortable…it may be IN or OUT of the LDS church. Since many other churches or methods of worship hold a differing measure of truth..each child of God is drawn / comfortable in THAT form and amount of worship & truth This statement is absolutely insulting. Do you even realize, through all of your dogma and indoctrination, what you are saying here? What a superior and prideful assertion you make? Of course not; because YOU are filled with LIGHT while others, like me, for example, are only comfortable wallowing in semi-darkness for the rest of our lives because we are somehow inherently incapable of being in LIGHT–aka we are not quite as good, pure and worthy as you.
The disparity between your attitude and what we know of Jesus, the teacher in Nazareth is enormous.
re: #10…do we really have a choice? LOL
(the answer to that is yes–Thank heavens.)
And just for the record, if I sound angry? Then maybe, to some degree, I am. It seems to be a pervasive thought in Mormon folk that anyone who is angry is weak and should not be taken seriously because their anger somehow negates their argument, stance and/or feelings.
Newsflash: anger is okay. Anger is a natural human emotion. It is a valid feeling when faced with superiority complexes and smugness. I get very tired of people responding with “You’re just an angry ex-Mormon…” No actually, I am not an angry ex-Mormon. I am a former Mormon who, when faced with some of the a fore mentioned attitudes and arguments, gets irritated and angry; just because I do get that way, doesn’t make my points moot nor does it nullify my feelings and reason.
End of newsflash. We now return to our regularly scheduled lynching.
Working Mother~ BREATHE! LOL
Click your heels together and repeat…oh wait, wrong story. It’s amazing how many ways we are “lovingly” taught “truth”, yes?
I understand why you feel the way you do. But, having lived with several people that I loved very much and that continued to do things to hurt themselves and others, I know there is some truth to people being attracted to different levels of truth. It is true that if you abuse others, you are destroying your relationship with them and you are more likely to be comfortable around others who do the same things as you and agree with your thinking, even if it is faulty. I have watched family members say they want to be have a family and maintain a job, but continue to make choices that lead to self-destruction. I don’t enjoy being around people who think women are less important then men and take advantage of them. I like being around people who think and believe like I do; that women are equal to men and deserve respect. To me that is truth and not everyone agrees with that. When I read the comment from Sharon in TN that is how I interpreted it.
Anyway, busy day, but I wanted to make that comment.
If you ask me, the people who really want to nail this sort of thing down are the ones who are primarily motivated by a need for security (a fear based on insecurity). Which is not a very Christlike need – and I mean “like Christ,” not what people usually mean which is something like “kind” or “gentle.” What I mean is Christ deliberately put himself in jeopardy and said and did courageous things. He was not like the Pharisees he decried who were hamstrung by their own rules. He went out on a limb and started sawing. I’d prefer to admit that I don’t know, and in a way I don’t really care. I think it’s better to just be the best person you can be – to live what you know to live, and to let others do the same. God can sort it out.
Would you describe yourself as a “TBA” (True Blue Anti-Mormon)?
Wow, lots of comments.
Is the criteria for it being better for someone never having been born whether they can have children or not? Don’t people have value from living their own lives? I certainly think that people’s lives are validated regardless of if they can (or do) have children.
I guess my bigger question is…do you think, on this issue, that more members take the position of “fear”…or do you think they take a more lenient understanding? After all, the scriptures have a lot of examples that are reinterpreted to fit modern sentiments…and of course, we always have people who want to take things to the “harsher” understandings, but these people may or may not be the average.
3) Benjamin Orchard:
OK, thanks for bringing that up! Because I had heard that (or something to that extent), but I didn’t know if I had just imagined it out of thin air or if it was something that actually had some historical basis. And since I agree that the vast majority of people have not had angelic ministries (notwithstanding the powerful spiritual experiences they may have had), I understood the teachings related to Outer Darkness as implying that it would be incredibly sparsely populated.
But as toward who would say the sun is not shining when it is…I think that we would have to take it in a slightly different way. For example, what if one hypothetically discovered God’s existence in such an incontrovertible way (undeniable ministering of angels, or whatever), but then this one found that God actually was unpalatable to them.
Obviously, this won’t do. God sets the rules. However, because we have our own hearts and minds, we can always determine (within ourselves) if we find the rules fair. So, it seems to me that someone who would be a son of perdition would do so on integrity to themselves — instead of trying to force themselves to bend their will to a god that they know, yet who displeases them and makes them miserable — they would rather suffer the consequences of being cut off from this god forever, suffer the consequences of breaking the rules, and so on.
The concept is really difficult for many to imagine, because we couldn’t imagine God being unpalatable to us. We imagine that, as soon as the veil is lifted, everything will make sense and all of God’s ways — mysterious or not — will seem apparent to us as the most moral, logical, intelligent ways.
This comment actually goes greatly with the end of my comment I was making to Benjamin. In such a case, if one determines that for his integrity, for his sanity, for his internal consistency, he cannot abide the law, then he may be satisfied within himself, but the truth will be (supposing there is a law and supposing there is a government) that he will still be breaking that law, still be abiding in sin, and still will reap the consequences of that sin.
I think this raises the idea I was mentioning in the post. Outer Darkness wouldn’t be where God sends someone…but rather, where one sends themselves. Because they — through their own actions and choices — will be filthy still.
As for my opinion on it, I don’t necessarily see the bad thing in it. It’s a great testament to the integrity of a person. Someone may say, “But why would you risk eternal outer darkness or eternal hell for such a petty cause — “to become a law unto oneself”?”
And the answer is the same every time…because that’s what integrity means.
I didn’t really read her comments at “anti-Mormon”. I read them more against the attitude of smugness than many Mormons possess (incidentally, it’s not limited to Mormons – there are many people of many faiths who are so convinced that their faith is “RIGHT”, that all other faiths much be “WRONG”).
Satan is the supreme example of one who is headed for outer darkness. He knows the gospel, chooses not to accept it and has rebelled to the point where he is incapable of repenting.
The scriptures teach that in the end, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ”. I do not think that the sons of perdition will arrive at this state. That is why the atonement can have no place in them and they are not assigned to a glory. This is by their choice.
Every once in awhile, there is a discussion in church about what will happen to Judas. Even though the scriptures call him a son of perdition, I think that the atonement will even save him to some degree of glory. Judas was repentant at the end of his life. He felt sorrow and remorse for what he did which is not characteristic of a son of perdition. I think that the early church leaders who assigned this term to him may not have fully understood. Sons of perdition are incapable of repenting.
Those who do not accept the gospel in this life, will be subject to the buffetings of satan in the spirit world and the vast majority will, in the end, bow their knee and submit to Christ.
Posts about “apostates” and “who has to go to hell” = bloggerbacle trolling and linkbait
“The real question is (at least in my mind): Why would anyone do that? To try to convince others that something they know is true with complete certainty is actually false. I look at the sun, see it shining, then try to convince others it is not. Why would anyone do that?”
#3 – I think the standard answer to this question, Benjamin, is that no one would consciously do this, but when you turn away from the truth, you give yourself over to control of Satan, and he will inspire you to do that. I don’t remember hearing many believing members express much empathy for an ex-member who feels angry or bitter toward the church, regardless of how valid his or her reasons might be. The textbook response is that that person is a sad and typical example of what happens when you leave the path. Satan gets control of you and causes you to join the fight against god’s work.
Thanks, Jen. I think that is a good way to view her comments, although from the comment as a whole, I got a different message. Birds of a feather DO tend to flock together, true; but she was comparing people who ‘recieve the Holy Ghost’ on a daily basis with those who don’t. As far as I can figure, I don’t have the HG in my life, according to Mormon beliefs, but I’m amazed I still feel joy, have a wonderful life and don’t accidentally make wrong turns and get in accidents (no still small voice whispers to me–if it did, I’d take medication.)
Jared–no, I would describe myself as I did–a former Mormon. I don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are things that hold true for me and my life and some of them over-lap with Mormon tenants.
To say I am anti would say that I am against ALL Mormons and Mormonism. That simply isn’t the case. I tend to be a bit contrary and like to seek balance; when I see a viewpoint as unbalanced as #5, it sticks in my craw–I like to present a different vantage point from which to gaze.
I have been out of the Church for over 15 years. I don’t hold the same anger I once did as a newly ejected member. I have a great deal of love and compassion for people of all different walks of life. I can think of countless examples of goodness in–and out–of Mormonism. Where I seem to get stuck is when the One and Only True Church card comes into play. THe lack of humility and the utter superiority of this belief is what seems to irritate many people about Mormonism. Catholics say the same thing, but they aren’t as vocal about it.
“[Christ] went out on a limb and started sawing.”
I’m not sure I agree with that representation of Jesus. Doing what you describe would be reckless and foolish. Rather, I think, Jesus was resolute and fearlessly honest. And the truth made Him a threat to the powerful. I’m sure that’s what you were getting at.
The naked truth always has a way of ruffling the status quo and conventional wisdom.
re SHARON lds in TN:
So, let’s say, hypothetically, that someone is given the gift of the Holy Ghost, but through whatever reason, they don’t receive it. They think they are doing the right steps, but for whatever reason, they don’t receive it.
Do these people, if they apostasize, count as having received the Holy Ghost and denied it? Or do they count as those who received not the testimony of Jesus?
re Mike Hawk:
Thanks for another confirming account. I was pretty sure someone had to deny some really big stuff to win the Outer Darkness Jackpot.
But this isn’t just a Joseph Smith thing or a modern church thing…this is a human thing…to balance fear and hope.
re Holden Caulfield:
I can’t say I looked up the etymology and definition, but I like the word apostate only because it sounds cool. Yes, I am shallow. But indeed, I find the “runaway slave” idea intriguing…
Thanks again for the confirmation…although I had really not looked at it from a “calling and election made sure” standpoint…
re working mother:
The way I see it is this. As many other posters have confirmed, what it means to be eligible for outer darkness is a lot different than what the first reading might seem to give. It’s denying the sun is shining at noon, as others have mentioned the Joseph quote.
In my comment to Ben, I tried to ponder a different analogy, and I think that Holden’s comment (number 9) captured this. If we feel that God’s dominion is slavery, and heaven is the plantation, then in that case, outer darkness would be considered better than the Celestial Kingdom.
Now, keep in mind that this becomes a matter of perspective. As Jared posted, this would require making a “law unto oneself.” So, we would still have to deal with the law that exists (say, if God exists, and if he sets laws, then if we break these laws, we do deal with the consequences.) So where we must be is to be strong enough to accept that if we will break these laws, we are doing it for a cause that we support.
But I completely identify. The first few months, I still had to filter out my “paranoia” relating to church authority…but over time, I realized that my life is mine. I cannot let others control where I will step next.
20 Mike S–
I agree with you in part. What I’ve noticed though, as members gets deeper into living the gospel, they become more like the Savior in that smuginess, and like anti-virtures, give way to what Joseph Smith said:
“All the religious world is boasting of righteousness: It is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. … If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 241.)
Ha, I remember King’s Quest IV and Eco Quest, and hating all Sierra games after those. I don’t think I’ve bought any in years 🙂
Anyhow, thinking of the comparison between Sierra games and denying the Holy Ghost… I honestly feel that denying the HG takes active effort. You may choose to act contrary to promptings you receive, but I don’t think it’s so based on chance occurrences. Receiving the HG is only one step toward knowing the fulness of the gospel. I think that just as we are not the final judges of others, even those who leave the church will be judged by the standard of God, who actually knows all the particulars of the situation. Perhaps they joined and left the church without ever fully understanding it. Or perhaps they lost their sanity on some level. Or any number of other things. I know that makes God sound subjective and partial. But the omniscient perspective that is the Father’s has to include understanding of all the particulars. Otherwise he wouldn’t really be the God that we all believe (or seem to believe) he is. He has a standard, but judgments are based in both his complete knowledge and wisdom, as well as the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
To bring it back to the Sierra comparison which I love so much: I think if you were to use your love arrow and accidentally, unwittingly walk off the screen, God and the Savior would probably understand your intents and mercifully give you the unicorn anyway so you would have the chance to continue past your accident and gain the video game (or celestial) victory. Unfortunately (kind of), Sierra Entertainment is not God, so you will continue to be plagued with their seemingly final judgments based on imperfect and incomplete programming.
I hope I didn’t get too far off there. Maybe I’ll be graciously given the chance to start over and save often.
Continuing the Sierra comparison, are Buddhism and Hinduism like resetting the game and getting another go at it until you reach the prize?
re 13 JulieAnn:
I agree with you, and I agree with the question you ask. But please, consider the ramifications of what you’re asking. The church talks about being the one true church (or at least, the MOST true church, if other churches have “pieces” of truth, the church has “all.”) The church talks about being the only church with the priesthood keys.
So, these statements are very bold. These statements do not allow for wiggle room. So members, to keep with orthodox faith, don’t have much wiggle room outside of these statements. So even though it hurts us when members are so bold, we should recognize — since we know how the church is — that these members really don’t have much other choice (as faithful members, that is.) So, we should be compassionate — despite the pain it may cause us — to recognize why our peace and joy in life is doubted…because it is threatening to others’ worldviews.
In re: 14, I would say it’s indignation. Isn’t that righteous anger? I would just caution…anger wrecks peace and joy. Even righteous anger. So despite these things which give righteous cause to be angry, I think you should still have peace and joy in your life. Why? Because you deserve better than to let others control your feelings! You deserve better than to let the insulting things people say insult you (wow, think about that.)
re 18 Jared: I agree with Mike S in comment 20. It doesn’t seem anti-Mormon.
Really, actually, it seems pro-Mormon. Because let’s look at it in another way. JulieAnn is expressing something that annoys her (and many many other people) about Mormonism. So, this annoying aspect of Mormonism (and, as Mike S said, many other religions), is hurting the church. JulieAnn is calling for change. A change that would raise more compassion and understanding, quite frankly.
re 21 PK:
Interesting thoughts…especially your thoughts that the sons of perdition will never bend or confess.
I hadn’t quite heard that before. (I thought that idea that everyone will bend and confess is that EVERYONE will…but those who did so of their agency are the ones who are saved.)
re 22 N:
Gotta get traffic somehow 8)
The whole idea of what happens after death to those who are ex-mormons, and apostates is an incomplete doctrine. We see through a glass darkly on this doctrine, as well as many others. I am drawn to the doctrine that God is love. This is at the top of list in my experience with sacred things.
I like what J. Rurben Clark said:
I believe that in his justice and mercy he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Report, October 1953
re 28 J.Ro:
The issue is not whether denying the Holy Ghost takes active effort…I think we can conclude that it does. The issue is how easy is it to do?
For example, if it’s just predicated on promptings (which are unclear and contradictory — which is why we have so many different religions, interpretations, philosophies, and so on), then it is very easy to reject the Holy Ghost. HOWEVER, if it’s based on rejecting after having, say, seen the ministering of angels, that’s much more difficult to do.
Your answer seems more consistent with the view that it’s more difficult. For example, God will understand that we didn’t have the manual…we didn’t realize that we needed both those arrows, whereas sierra is perfectly content to let you use one at any time without letting you know until it is too late or giving you much warning.
re 29 Mike S:
I could certainly see that. Reset often, haha.
Another excellent topic, with great follow up on your part.
How would you describe yourself? TB? what?
#32 Andrew S.–
Regarding the idea of denying after receiving sacred experiences: I think there will be few sons of perdition (no daughters). But I think there will be a showing among those who qualify for the pronouncement found in 2 Nephi 31:14
14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
My question is, what qualifies to–deny me. Is it with ones return to sin, or does it mean to become anti?
#34 – I think it might be helpful to clarify what we mean by the use of the term “anti”. Is someone an anti who opposes the church and speaks negatively about it, or is it someone who attempts to destroy it somehow?
Jared, why do I have to be TB anything? I think that part of the issue is that being “TB” creates divisions.
That being said, I guess I could think about this carefully…I am an existentialist. I am an absurdist. “True blue”? I don’t know about that.
Not only that, but what does it mean to “become anti”? You questioned if JulieAnn was an anti-Mormon. Do you really think she qualifies (and, if she does qualify, why wouldn’t she be a “daughter” of perdition)? What does it mean to be an anti-Mormon?
Wow, what a great post! I don’t have time for this today, but I want to be a part of this thread, so hopefully my comments are understandable.
You said this in response to JulieAnn: “So even though it hurts us when members are so bold, we should recognize — since we know how the church is — that these members really don’t have much other choice (as faithful members, that is.) So, we should be compassionate — despite the pain it may cause us — to recognize why our peace and joy in life is doubted…because it is threatening to others’ worldviews.”
I have listened over the years to comments that members of the church have made and they haven’t really phased me. It wasn’t until I had been through some significant experiences that taught me deeper compassion and love for others, that I would hear similar comments and think to myself “did he seriously just say that?” I appreciate you suggesting having more compassion on members of the church because I truly believe that a great majority of them are not trying to offend or come across as holier than thou. I really think many of them don’t recognize how many of their statements can be taken in a negative way because they have been raised in the Mormon culture. I think like anything else, it is takes time to recognize what we are doing and what we are saying and how it could be affecting others. Also, I have learned that many times when someone has said something that can seem offensive, I may very be likely just choosing to take offense and they had no intention to offend. There are very few people in my life that I know who have ever truly TRIED to offend me. Most people are just going about their day and trying to make it through.
I love the gospel and truly believe in it, but I recognize that it gets messy when people get thrown in the mix. I know that I have learned much because of my life experience and one thing I know more now than ever, is we cannot judge one another. I really think the next life will be full of surprises and we will see how we made this life so much harder for one another when it was so unnecessary. I think in choosing to be more compassionate to one another we can smooth out some of the big wrinkles in life.
Andrew S (32) – True, it probably isn’t the main issue at hand. I was feeling a bit of that as I wrote, but nothing else was coming. So, like I said, I hope I wasn’t too far off.
36 Andrew S
Yeah, “anti”, what does it mean? I’m still working on this one, there are many ways to look at it. Just as there are many ways to look at “active”. I suppose this issue brings up the thought that the Lord has many kingdoms, that is, 3 heavens with various degrees within each.
Re: TB?. Still working on it.
Re: sons of perdition. There is reason to believe women can’t become perdition. That leaves the guys in a place by themselves. Yuk, that really adds a view of the conditions in outer darkness.
Sorry, Andrew S, but you’re going to hell. 😉
Jen, thanks for all the comments as well. I think compassion and humility are a challenge for all of us to learn, and it’s precisely because we often times don’t focus on how the message was sent by the speaker (say, the member), but instead we focus on how the message was received by the listening (us).
I think it’s tough…because in part, this is communication. We want to be loved in our own way. We don’t want to be loved in the way the other person wants to love us. Does that make any sense? The member’s way of showing care is to try to share the Gospel…because they have a testimony of its greatness in their lives. The former member’s first instinct is to chafe at this “love.” So it’s tough…
J.Ro, you weren’t too far off.
Just curious…what is the reason women can’t become perdition? Is it similar to the reason women don’t have the priesthood?
WMP, I was afraid of that. 😀 I accept my sentence!
AndrewS, I’ll be there to keep you company.
Yeah, I got the list of everyone who RSVP’d, and the list of attendees is looking pretty good.
“I think it’s tough…because in part, this is communication. We want to be loved in our own way. We don’t want to be loved in the way the other person wants to love us. Does that make any sense?”
It makes perfect sense and makes me think of the book about love languages and how to learn to speak them with the people we love. I think it is very important to feel loved in the ways that make us feel loved. One way to help do that with each other on a more broad level, is to work to understand one another, to show compassion for a different perspective in life and to accept others from where they are at and where they want to be. Also, extending forgivness and mercy to others when necessary can give them a sense of hope and a feeling of being loved. It is all easier said than done of course, but hopefully members and non-members alike can try to understand one another’s perspectives better.
FWIW, I do believe that people can find greater joy and peace outside of religion, especially depending on the way that religion was presented to them. The main focus in my life is my relationship with God and for me that brings me the greatest peace and joy. It is not that way for others and I accept and understand that. I think that the way things are taught, enforced and shown to us can make us go in all different directions and God is fully aware of this. At the end of the day, for me it has everything to do with the intents of our hearts and the value we place in one another. I don’t care if a person goes to church every week if they can’t speak a kind word to their spouse at home. I hope that as a member of the LDS church that I am able to express the value I feel each of us has before God and help others feel accepted by me whether they are in or out of the church.
As far as going you going to hell AndrewS, I am hoping that this life is as hellish as it gets. Hopefully it only gets better from here! 🙂
Anyone, mormon or not, can be cast off into the lake of fire and brimstone after resurrection and judgment. All one has to do is remain unrepentant. It is a false idea to think only members who fall away are qualifiers to the lake of fire and brimstone. The lake will take any sinner.
One more thing-
Anyone who is unrepentant thus “denies” Christ and his atonement. Everyone born into mortality have experienced the Spirit of Christ, thus all are qualifiers.
re 45 and 46:
Rob, so, what does it mean to “remain unrepentant”?
I guess it’s important for us to refrain from judgment.
Personally I don’t think that our formal relationship with the Church has much to do with our eternal destination.
But it’s like the old joke about the priest visiting the elderly playboy. He was talking about repentance, which the old guy answered by speculating that it’s too late for him. When the priest said it’s never too late, he said, “well, in that case, I’ll start next Monday.”
I am one those TBM’s who often get clobbered in these discussions. But I am also a rebellious SOB, who knows how hard it can be at times to do the thing you know is right. I believe that the threshold of Outer Darkness is pretty high.
But I also believe, that God will not be dragging us home kicking and screaming.
In the end, I have faith in an informed choice. We will not lock ourselves out by accident; OTOH, Lucifer seems to be fully informed, too.
I can’t really say if I have received the Fullness — I believe there’s still quite a way for all of us. And I try to be really honest about the fear thing, because I have done way too much in this life out of fear. What draws me into the Priesthood fellowship is not fear, but love. I can feel it, and I have had some quite precious experiences, especially giving blessings in my family. D&C 84:20 says quite a bit.
Sure, there are plenty of enlightened people outside the LDS church, including some who have left it. There are also some pretty dark people among active LDS. But it’s not my place to correct them. They’ll have their own interview, I’ll have mine. Different people, different stories. End of story.
I have a random question: is it true that Adolf Hitler was baptized for the dead and as a result, if he accepts, all of his atrocities will be pardoned? Not trying to be inflammatory, I just want to know if this is some ‘anti’ urban legend or if it’s true.
Thanks for your comments, Andrew. No, I don’t think all members come solely from a place of fear. I believe, however that fear is one of the many mechanisms in place to keep True Believers from falling away from the iron rod and those with weak testimonies from leaving completely.(with any religion, not just LDS).
True story: I have a family member with whom I used to butt heads about the religion constantly. She was devout. We never did it angrily, but there were heated moments. One day she was doing her genealogy on the computer. One thing led to another. And another. Soon, she called me to tell me she was leaving the Church. I about shot coffee through my nose. She was 52 at the time, a life-long devout member. She didn’t leave because she was offended, wanted to sin or was sick of callings; she left because she got information and continued to get information that stunned her out of a blind-faith stupor (not that all Mormons are in a stupor, this was her mind-set). She had tons of fear as she proceeded to study and research more on her own. That fear stayed with her for a long time.
The point of my anecdote is this: no, I don’t think members are all led by fear; I do, however, think fear is what keeps people from questioning irrational, incongruent or divergent beliefs and doctrines within the Church’s tenets.
Andrew, I try to be compassionate and kind as well as understanding toward people of all different walks of life. Compassion, to me, is a wonderful way to live your life and I try to be empathetic to people as well. You wrote:
“So, we should be compassionate — despite the pain it may cause us — to recognize why our peace and joy in life is doubted…because it is threatening to others’ worldviews.”
I don’t have compassion for this particular breed of person. It is not my job to keep their world from being shaken. It is my job to say my truth, just as it is their job to say theirs. What I am shooting for here is common ground. I can accept that they believe and feel they “know”; why is it so hard to expect the same courtesy? And when I don’t get it, I balk and call them on the carpet.
Also, to tell me to be ‘compassionate’ toward people who are in a religion that can’t handle their world-view being shaken is akin to telling me to basically pat them on the head and say ‘you’re a sweet spirit’. It is condescending at best, insulting at worst. These members of the Church are intelligent, competent individuals. I don’t feel that having compassion along with nodding my head and saying “all right, you just go lie down and don’t worry your pretty little head about it” is unfair to them as fellow human beings. Don’t you think they want to have information that helps them become more compassionate as well? Or am I naive? (don’t answer that…)
Anger is actually a healthy emotion if one can see the root of it and if one can use it as a catalyst for change. Do you believe that the civil rights movement was precluded by peace and joy and compassion? Change comes to this world through anger and action. It also comes through peace and joy, too. I live my life in peace and joy and occasionally there is anger. I feel I strike a fairly good balance.
Jen, your comments are enjoyable and thoughtful. Thank you.
to #45– really? ‘Fire and Brimstone’? DO people actually BELIEVE that?? wow.
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Catching up on comments, but I just want to echo #36. Why do we have to categorize each other and ourselves?
I am a believing member of the LDS, but my beliefs are all over the place in the wide spectrum of what other members believe. I’m Mormon, and I’m at peace with my own personal beliefs. Why can’t that be enough? (and all those who automatically are inclined to say that the LDS Church doesn’t let it be enough, I’m proof that it does. I have served and continue to serve in highly visible callings, and I’ve never once been challenged or reprimanded for my heterodox beliefs. It can be done, and I haven’t had to sacrifice ANY integrity to do it.)
As to the heart of the question of the post, I am of the belief that VERY few people qualify for Outer Darkness, and WAY more qualify for the Celestial Kingdom than most people assume. I see that as the heart of Mormonism, and I believe our natural tendency to deny that is the core reason why we are told to judge not. Generally, we are really lousy judges of ourselves, much less others.
Since I don’t really keep up with posthumous baptismal stuff, I really don’t know if that is verified…but it wouldn’t surprise me if he has.
That being said, it shouldn’t be that much of a shock. We already know from a description of the lower kingdoms (e.g., http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/76/98-111#98 ) that the telestial kingdom includes people that would be considered “terrible.”
Now, relating to your story…I think the scenario you have to account for is…what about the people who *do* search, who *do* seek, who do become educated with the historical and theological issues…and yet remain members in the church because the church fulfills them? These people aren’t driven by fear from questioning incongruent, irrational, or divergent beliefs and tenets. I think these people (many of whom represent the informed faithful co-bloggers and commenters here at Mormon Matters) are sustained by something. Who knows what it is? It’s not fear that’s paralyzing them…it’s something positive that is sustaining them.
This is why I advise compassion and humility. Because I have to recognize that although the church doesn’t sustain me (and I don’t believe it sustains everyone…I don’t believe “one size fits all,”) I recognize that for some, it does sustain them. And so, even if these people assume that because the church sustains them, it should sustain everyone, I take compassion for people even when they believe this. I can patiently abide their comments and actions against me to try to show them that, for some people, the church is not sustenance, and these people are nourished much more outside.
I am not saying it is your or my or anyone’s job to keep anyone’s world from being shaken, but I’d still have to modify what I think the “jobs” are. Obviously, when people just “say their truths,” then this opens the floor for contention in specific instance. For example, if our truth is that “the church is true for all,” then how is it possible for someone to give you the same courtesy? It is not possible for them to accept your truth, because it directly threatens their truth. So, if I had to say we have a job, then we mutually have jobs to become more humble about what we think we “know” and what we think are truths.
Who knows how we do this? I don’t, but I’ve seen quite a few tactics that don’t work so effectively…
To assume that members of the church are only members because of “fear” and because they won’t evaluate “irrational, incongruent, or divergent” beliefs seems to me to be even more condescending or insulting. I’m saying, because I believe these members of the church are intelligent, competent individuals, that they obviously have some positive reason for believing. And heck, they do! They have positive emotional and spiritual experiences! Positive social experiences. And all they want to do is share these same experiences with others (even though *we* know that you can’t just export these things, and so *we* try to express that we can have similar positive emotional experiences outside of the church…one size does *not* fit all.)
So, I’m telling you to be compassionate for people who get something out of the church, because surely, as you WERE part of the church, you must know EVEN ONE PERSON who was improved by the church. SURELY, you don’t see the church in completely stark, negative, destructive terms as a black hole of fear and destructiveness.
When you begin asking questions like:
Don’t you realize that members ask this same question about you? Don’t you realize that members think, “Wouldn’t all of my intelligent, competent friends want to have information — the Gospel of Jesus Christ — that can help them have more peace and joy in their lives, that can make them more compassionate?”
Don’t you see?! People believe in the church because they truly believe it has improved their lives! People want to EVANGELIZE for the church because they truly believe it can improve OTHERS’ lives.
Personally, I believe Martin Luther King did more than Malcolm X. Don’t set up a false dichotomy; you can act under either anger OR compassion. You can act through civility or incivility. You can act through peaceful means or violent means. You choose which you truly believe is more effective.
Let me ask you a question. Are you more willing to cooperate with someone when they are angry and when they inspire you to be angry? Or are you more willing to cooperate with someone when they themselves are cooperative and they inspire you to be cooperative?
Have you ever experienced a moment when you were “killed with kindness” or do you believe such a concept is a fairy tale? Have you ever experienced a moment when you realized that “you don’t care how much someone knows until you know how much someone cares?” or does that just sound like a silly couplet?
I never thought to categorize anyone before I came to the ‘nacle. Since I’ve been here people like to categorize themselves. You just categorized yourself at several leveels; one, as not wanting to categorize. Others fine it useful, and even wear it as badge: TBM, cateteria mormon, ex-mormon, intellectual mormon, and so forth.
The church categorizes members by priesthood rank, male, female, temple recommend holder, active, inactive, and so forth. We’re categorized by educational levels, political leaning, and so forth.
Andrew S. feels it can create divisions, and he may be correct. I don’t want to see that, but at the same time it useful to know where a poster and commentator stand.
I lean in the direction of having those who post provide a bio regarding their attitude towards Mormonism, and for those who comment– they can do the same if they choose.
Lastly, having unfettered discusions is what makes Mormonmatters unique.
That’s my .02. 😀
and I disagree, Jared – because labels lead people to assumptions that often are flat-out wrong. I want my words to define me, not some general categorizations in a bio – since I simply don’t fit any easy category. (and natural distinction by age, gender, race, occupation, education, responsibility, etc. isn’t labeling – there’s an important difference between individual descriptives and broad categorizations)
Depending on the topic and the group, I am a: believer, skeptic, disbeliever, conservative, moderate, liberal, independent, apostate (yeah, even me, in some people’s eyes), open-minded, narrow-minded . . . and the list goes on and on. I can’t tell you how many times people’s assumptions about what I must believe have kept them from reading what I actually have said dispassionately and objectively – and how often that has led to misinterpretation and argument over stuff I never said. I’d rather dispense with divisive categorizations and be free to let my own words define me.
#53 – Hold on, Ray. I’m working on an addendum to your list…
We’ll have to agreeably disagree. I feel broad categorizations about a posters attitude towards Mormonism is useful. Their words will further define who they are.
By the way, I think you’re a great guy.
Jared, I don’t know that labels are useful. I would use myself as an example. How, for example, would you classify me?
I was BIC. I went to BYU. I served a full-time mission, including serving as ZL, AP, etc. for whatever that is worth. I have always been a full tithe payer for over 4 decades. I have always had a temple recommend (except for a few inadvertent lapses between renewals). I was married in the SL temple. I have served in multiple callings. I have most recently been YM president to over 50+ youth. I have read the BofM probably 15-20 times. Am I a TBM?
I have never received an answer to my prayers as to whether the BofM is true. Through various levels of studying, I feel as much at home with Buddhism as I do Mormonism. I drink Coke and green tea. I wouldn’t smoke regardless of the WofW. I think the current fixation on wine, etc is an anachronism from prohibition even through I don’t drink. I think Brigham Young was a racist bigot, as were many of the leaders since his time. I can’t stand reading anything by Bruce R McConkie. I don’t understand why Joseph Smith would want to marry other men’s wives or little girls. I’m not gay, but I have a lot of friends who are. They are amazing and charitable and loving people. I think what the Church did towards Prop 8 is reprehensible. I am astounded by the pathetic amount our church gives in actual cash charity throughout the world compared to what they spend on other worldly things. I feel more at home with my non-member friends than members. I could careless about the fixation on white shirts that Church leaders seem to have. I think missions are a waste of time and would be better off being service missions. I wouldn’t care if my sons got their ears pierced. I would get more out of reading the Qu’ran, the Bhagavad Gita, and/or the teachings of Buddha than I do out of the Book of Mormon. I am bored to tears with the pablum we get in Sunday School. Am I harboring apostasy in my heart?
While I have grown less inclined to appreciate the institution of the Church as the years have gone by, my understanding and relationship with God and my fellowman has deepened. I think I am a much better and more balanced person.
So, in my “biography”, am I a “TBM, cateteria mormon, ex-mormon, intellectual mormon”, social Mormon, etc. Where would you honestly put me, and if you can’t put me in a category, how else would this system work?
Labels are dangerous. If you use them to determine who you identify with and thus who you trust, you can not only miss out on pearls of wisdom, but also find yourself uncomfortably grouped with people whose views you may not share.
That said, sometimes a little background does help explain one’s point of view.
The best defense is a good offense. Building up the apostate bogeyman is a great way to divert attention away from the many conflicts caused by sectarianism. History shows us that once you claim to be the only authorized distributor of truth there are bound to be quarrels.
Jared: I know you’ve been trying on many threads around the LDS themed blogs to get people to label themselves, and at every turn you are met with strong resistance. Get a clue: people cannot, do not want to, and should not be classified into neat little groups. Please stop asking people to do so. Categorization is not an attempt to understand people better; it is really an attempt (possibly subconscious?) at reducing them to stereotypes that you think you understand. Its offensive and I’m really getting tired of it. Could you please refrain from asking people to categorize themselves as one thing or another? Please!?
You’ve got your facts wrong. I’ve mentioned this idea 3 or 4 times–total. If you want to discuss something with me, please do so. But don’t bully, lecture, or try to come up with some nonsense reason for my motive.
If you don’t like the idea, say so, but how about canning the rest of it.
#56 Mike S–
Just watched a great movie, returned and saw your comment. It looks like my idea of a bio has gotten poor reviews. I’m a good enough politician to know when an idea I’ve floated is dead on arrival.
Jared, as long as I’ve been frequenting this blog, your comments have been consistently honest and open, and I’ve never seen cause to doubt your motives. I’m sure your interest in this topic is similarly forthright. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it has much traction. For what it’s worth, I don’t usually have much trouble divining people’s positions on most issues through their comments – I don’t think anyone is hiding much. In fact, most direct questions on almost any topic will garner a frank and honest answer. In any event, I’m sure your motives are good. Perhaps there’s another way to get what you’re looking for.
I think my interest in a brief bio on posters comes from my style of reading. I like to know something about the author of whatever I read. Been a habit of mine for a long time.
But like you said–no traction with it here.
Thanks for your perspective.
“re 45 and 46:
Rob, so, what does it mean to “remain unrepentant”?
Basically, I will give the short answer-
It means that you do not repent of all of your sins and thus cannot be cleansed by the atonement.
Rob, rather than respond directly to #64, I simply will ask you to search for “all you can do” in the box at the right-hand, bottom of this blog. There are two or three very good posts on what you have said (or, at least, what I think you have said) that illustrate why I don’t think the Atonement applies AFTER we have repented of all our sins.
In summary, I think we view repentance and grace/atonement differently – and I simply don’t believe we have to wait for full repentance to be cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I think that Atonement is MUCH more powerful than such a construct – and that it does FAR more for all God’s children than most people understand. Based solely on the parsed meaning of your words, it appears you don’t think anyone is cleansed by the atonement in this life – and I don’t think that’s what you mean. Of course, I could be wrong.
That’s one of the reasons I believe that very, very few “apostates and ex-Mormons” will end up in Outer Darkness – and why I’m not about to try to speculate as to whether any individual will or won’t.
I think there are more faithful people in the Church than is apparent from these kinds of discussions, who actually know about the “controversial” stuff in Church history (that is, in context, mostly “ho-hum”). And even more of those who don’t care to speculate why Joseph Smith had other men’s wives sealed to him, for example. If we don’t know we don’t know. The Joseph Smith Papers Project promises to publish every single document that can shed any light to the life of that man. Will that stop the conspiracy theories about the Church trying to hide its history? No, because too many people find it a convenient tool to shock the people who haven’t paid attention. How many Baptists know the full history of that movement?
Let’s face it, I knew about MMM and Joseph Smith’s gun in Carthage jail and polygamy etc. long before the Web brought all that to the surface from books published by the Church, BYU or Deseret book or such.
The thing is that for many people, living the gospel “just works” (to borrow an idiom from computer world). It makes our lives feel fulfilled, or at least better than they were before. I’ve seen lifelong LDS members “convert” and realize that gospel living has a lot to offer.
BTW, I was trying to do some statistical analysis based on scriptural themes, and based on just word-crunching it looks like the scriptures talk more about the love of God and the reward of the righteous than the punishment of the wicked. It’s just that the “false traditions of their fathers” have made people look at the hell fire and brimstone stuff so much.
In the beginning days of wide-scale missionary efforts, the Christian early medieval kings, aided by priests, would basically give you a choice of beheading or baptism. I guess that was what passed for freedom to choose for them. In that context, it is no surprise that the word for apostasy would come from a word that means a runaway slave.
Then again look at ideologies like Fascism or Communism. They used fear extensively. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia needed no religion for terrorizing people, neither did Mao, Stalin or Hitler. What keeps North Korean or Burmese citizenry in line is mostly fear.
We have a culture of confrontation, which we should really work to get rid of. Retributions and recriminations will always just deepen the wounds. So if anyone sees her- or himself on a higher plane, please show it by giving a good example, not by berating the shortcomings of people who basically just want to do what they think is right. If someone feels better out of the Church than in, that’s not a problem for me. I don’t really see why it should be a problem for anyone that I find happiness and fulfillment inside rather than out. I’ve been on both sides, so I know the difference.
When Joseph Smith was talking about apostates, he was usually talking about people who would publish libelous statements, swear false affidavits, perjure themselves in trials, anything to make life difficult for Latter-day Saints. And among them were people, Apostles, who had been present when some notable miracles had happened and revelations received.
That was my short answer I posted before (#64). Now I will expound a little more.
We are cleansed from sin as we repent, one by one of those sins. Its an ongoing process that certainly will not be fulfilled in this mere short lifetime! But there will come a time when we will be made aware of our past sins and then be given the chance to repent of them. When I speak about repenting of “all” our sins to be cleansed through the atonement, I mean it literally in that until we fully repent of all our sins and forsake them, we are not ultimately cleansed in the end from our sins. The BoM is replete with the commands to forsake all of our sins and ask for forgiveness. Let me put it this way-
At the judgment in the end (after the millennium) we must have repented of all of our sins. We cannot at that day say in our heart that we love Christ and yet also love sin in some small degree. It is at that day that we must stand spotless- cleansed from all sin or we cannot gain salvation. Is this fair? Certainly. Satan will be thus removed and when he is only godliness will exist and there isn’t room in the Kingdom for sinners at that point. There will be no eternal fence-sitters stuck between a love for sin and a love for God in the end. You will either side with God and forsake all of your sins and becleansed by his blood and be spotless, or you will go with Satan into the lake of fire and brimstone. Remeber- Christ saves all the works of the Fathers hands who have been given to him to save. Christ will continue to work until he can present the kingdom (us) before the throne of God in a “spotless” condition.
I was gone for the rest of the day, but I’ve really been enjoying the discussion that has been going on (although it seems we had some disagreement at some point.)
I really have to say that I liked what Ray said in comment 53. Now, I provide a bio, and I try to articulate my position, because I do believe that, however arbitrary and dynamic words can be — however many places there are for miscommunication — we should still strive to try to communicate.
But I also agree with him that labels lead people to assumptions that are flat out wrong. The descriptions that we come to through our life experiences, as Mike S illustrated so well in comment 56, highlight the inadequacy of language to fully capture who we are.
Rob, just so I understand what you are saying:
Are you describing one heaven and one hell? Are you saying you believe there will be a large number of people who will be in Outer Darkness? Are you saying that there will be a large number of people who will NOT bow and confess that Jesus is the Christ – or that there will be a large number of people who will do so and still be cast into Outer Darkness? Do you believe in a literal lake of fire and brimstone?
Again, I ask so that I don’t make any incorrect assumptions.
#55-Jared—“Ray….by the way, I think you’re a great guy.” There you go again, Jared, using labels.
#49-JulieAnn–re: Adolph Hitler. He was baptised vicariously. The paperwork is actually floating out there in the internet. I read the story and printed out the paperwork for my files, although at this point can’t direct you to it on the internet. It very well may have been at Utah Lighthouse, I just don’t remember. I know many people don’t like (hate?) the Tanners’ work, but they come across a lot of stuff that is nowhere else to be found.
At “http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/hitlertemplework.htm” (sorry don’t know how to insert a link so you can click on it), you can read an article by Helen Radkey that relates interesting facts about the baptism and records about his baptism. I have quoted some of this below.
“There are currently Ancestral File ordinance records that show that Adolf Hitler was “baptized” on September 4, 1993, “endowed” on October 12, 1993, and “sealed” to his parents and also Eva Braun on June 14, 1994 in the Los Angeles Temple. The June 14 sealing of Hitler and Braun is the same sealing of which Roberts sent copies to McAreavy and Ashton. These entries could once be found in the IGI. They have since been deleted, along with other entries for prominent Nazis.
I have IGI copies of all the LDS ordinance records for Hitler, which are currently in the Ancestral File—but no longer in the IGI. As well, my copies show another baptism for Hitler, almost identical to the one still in the IGI files under Heidler (Hitler) with the same ordinance dates.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ (from his own lips) speaks of either salvation or damnation. He speaks of what it takes to be saved from hell into heaven. Christ often spoke in parables about heaven and hell. He spoke in general easy to understand terms. One of my favorite parables is about the “wheat and the tares”. This parable teaches of a strict heaven/hell dichotomy. The wheat and the tares are allowed to grow in the field which is represented as “the world”. The wheat (sons of God) and the tares(sons of perdition) are allowed to grow together until harvest. The harvest which begins at or around the second coming will continue until the end of the millennium. At this end, the wheat (sons of God) will all be secured in the garners (names written in book of life in physical temples dotting the earth). Read D&C 101:65-
65 Therefore, I must gather together my people, according to the parable of the wheat and the tares, that the wheat may be secured in the garners to possess eternal life, and be crowned with celestial glory, when I shall come in the kingdom of my Father to reward every man according as his work shall be;
(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 101:65)
The interesting aspect of Christ’s gospel is that it is a strict dichotomy. Now I am not implying anything about the different degrees of glory within the Kingdom of heaven (celestial kingdom) which will exist. What I am stating here is that after the millennium there will be only “one” kingdom that Christ will be presenting to the Father- His kingdom- those who Christ has made perfect and without spot. Jesus Christ has made clear through his words and his prophets that he will save all the works of Gods hands minus only the sons of perdition. He will save all of those he saves through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (see articles of faith # 3,4). This is because this is the only method available to be cleansed from sin- the physical waters of baptism. Baptism implies a new change- a new spiritual birth into godliness- becoming a son of God. Once we are baptized, we literally are born into the kingdom of heaven (celestial kingdom ultimately). There is only one thing keeping us from His presence, that being our unclean sinful states. So, the logic is that if Christ saves and cleanses all he saves in the end from all of their sins, then there is nothing that would not allow us back into His presence.
In the end I would believe that there would be hardly any that do not make it to the kingdom of heaven (celestial kingdom). One of the points I believe in is that the Telestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms at that point will not exist as “worlds” for the saved to go. I personally believe there has been a disconnect in regards to interpretation of the plan of salvation. The temple endowment in my view offers us the correct interpretation of the plan of salvation where instad of being assigned a kingdom in the end, we progress through them in order to end up in the celestial. The temple clarifies what the three kingdoms represent and mean- literally! The Telestial is the world we now live in. The Terrestrial is the kingdom of Christ’s reign during the millennium. In the end the Terrestrial will come into Gods presence and be crowned with it’s celestial glory along with all of those on the earth whose names have been secured in the garners (temples) to possess the earth in its celestial glory.
This thus answers the ends of the parable of the wheat and the tares- the wheat will be secured on the earth to possess eternal life in celestial glory while the rest will be the tares and be burned with unquenchable fire in thelake of fire and brimstone. Taht fire of course being a spiritual agonizing state of mind knowing you are chained down in the chains of hell and not being able to have choice (agency) to do anything about it to escape that torment. That is how Satan destroys our agency- he really can do it!
So, yes, I believe in a strict dichotomy of heaven and hell because nothing else would make sense in light of Christ’s spoken parables and gospel principles.
I never did believe in a god who would send people to hell for being wrong. I kind of liked Heber C. Kimball’s idea that sons of perdition were degraded back into intelligences and reorganized to be used for more spirits. I think Brigham may have believed something like that too.
Thanks for the clarification, Rob. I didn’t want to assume meaning that might not have been intended.
Re: #19, I think you have it exactly right about finding God unpalatable. Persons get their wish if they want a reality that isn’t. A loving God can give then that much, but the delusion of reality one individual can control and maintain by shutting out all the rest of reality is SO very small and limiting. Spirits who go to outer darkness would find heaven to be hell.
I find it ironic that the idea of putting labels on our usernames is straightforwardly dispensed with for reasons that seem apparent to everyone here (including me), yet most of us are completely okay with the idea that the afterlife will lump us all into discrete categories (or according to Rob Osborn, we’ll eventually all be polarized into binary categories).
There is also this naïve idea that during our lifetime we produce some finite amount of discrete, countable, and self-contained objects which we call “sins” that can be logged and archived for future recollection.
We talk a lot about how important it is to realize that this mortal life is continuous and analog, yet it seems that the afterlife is going to be discrete and digitized. Tough luck if you’re a floating-point rounding error.
“(or according to Rob Osborn, we’ll eventually all be polarized into binary categories). ”
It should read- (or according to Jesus Christ, we’ll eventually all be polarized into binary categories)
Give credit where credit is due, I am not the author, I am just restating what Christ himself taught.
Rob, just about everyone here disagrees with your interpretation of the scriptures. I know you would like to Bible bash over the idea, but a) I’m not interested in confronting fringe doctrines, and b) you must understand that regardless of what you believe the correct interpretation is, to acquiesce to your particular flavor of doctrine in this forum would be a useless and distracting position statement for me to make.
In my heart of heart of hearts I have to say that if God really does exist as he is described in the scriptures, he is a much more merciful being than we begin to understand. If his relationship to us is anything like my relationship with my child, I can’t imagine him giving us anything less than everything he could. I take some comfort in D&C 76:89 which states that even the glory of the Telestial Kingdom surpasses all understanding. That doesn’t sound too bad to me.
I find it interesting that we are supposedly going to be judged eternally on choices that we make here on Earth, while our understanding is so flawed and incomplete. For example, we really don’t have any idea what the Celestial Kingdom will be like. I think it is safe to say that the familial dynamic and sexual dynamics that exist here on the Earth will be significantly different in some way or another, but we really don’t know. Furthermore, I don’t know if I really want to have eternal increase or create worlds without end. All that extra “glory” sounds like a lot of work to me. In a slightly unrelated note, the most noble reason for me to choose to do good is because I love God, when despite my best efforts he remains largely unknown to me, but I digress.
It makes me think that maybe there will be progression between kingdoms, so that we can choose what we truly desire once our understanding has fully enabled that sort of choice. I know that McConkie and others have spoken against that notion, but Bruce R. has said a lot of things that I have a hard time with.
I currently remain active in the church mostly because I promised my wife that I would when we got married and if I quit going, it would be huge mixed expectation for her and cause a huge rift between us. I God would really condemn me to outer darkness when I have legitimately given it my best effort, but still don’t believe, whether I stay in the church for the wrong reasons for not, then I really misunderstand things.
That is ok you disagree, most do. It still doesn’t change the fact that there are problems with our current doctrine that probably will not be solved anytime soon. We think other Christian religions have issues, but we ourselves have issues piling up just as high.
Personally I believe the gospel doesn’t make any sense whatsoever if there isn’t progression between kingdoms. We certainly progress through kingdoms in the temple and that is supposed to be the best teaching we have regarding the plan of salvation.
Rob, fwiw, I don’t think anyone here minds at all reading and trying to understand your point of view. I think those who object to it do so largely for two reasons:
1) They disagree.
2) Even if they agree, they don’t agree that it is the plain and simple teaching of Christ.
You obviously don’t accept the “no movement between kingdoms” view of the Plan of Salvation, even though there are those who say, in essence, “Give credit where credit is due, I am not the author, I am just restating what Christ himself taught.” It’s fine and dandy if you really believe that, but please don’t use it as a end-of-discussion justification on this site.
Notice, I have said nothing about my own view of this basic issue, so please don’t extrapolate to what you might assume I believe. I’m simply saying that I hope you understand why your #76 won’t fly here – ironically among those on both sides of most issues we discuss.
I humbly aknowledge others views including yours. There does seem to be lots of indirection whenever one discusses the afterlife and eternity. We just do not know enough about it to know for sure. The views can varry so greatly- from one end tot he other, I am left to wonder at the fact that we perhaps are really no better off than any other Christian on what heaven and hell is and who makes it and who doesn’t. I can accept that perhaps I am wrong, but I also can accept that perhaps others are wrong too. Perhaps we are all wrong, eh eh. Just kidding.
I do jump the gun often times and I should relax and be more humble to others and not assume anything.
What happened to all of the comments on this thread? Why would they be deleted?
There were several comments, good comments, but now they gone. Why would Mormonmatters delete them? That should tell you something.
of it. (ganked from Wikipedia)
I think you’d be hard pressed to find an exmo that falls under this category.
http://eselighting.co.uk/ Andy Light
just came across your website and think its really cool, thanks for
sharing a great post, look forward to reading more in the future.
was good at balancing fear and hope, pulling out the appropriate card
for the given situation. Others would call that emotional manipulation.
Not only is life not a Sierra game–or any game, it is also not a trick question.
Apostate is simply an ugly word. It is such an ugly word, to me it feels like those who label people with it seem heartless.
Googling the word, I came across this “apostate-a person who
renounces a religious or political belief or principle. Recorded from
Middle English, the word comes via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek
apostatēs ‘apostate, runaway slave’.”
Runaway slave. Certainly puts a different twist on it.
Here was some of the comments that were deleted.
interpretation of mormon doctrine is that those who have received their
second anointing (i.e. calling and election made sure) are the only
ones who qualify for outer darkness. Those of us who have merely moved
on to other churches
I found this website by searching for “Mormon Apostate outer darkness”. I had seen a video by an Exmo who actively works against the LDS Church. He gave a discussion on the Plan of Salvation and how it maps onto Christian dogma. He said that according to Mormon doctrine, all exmos go to outer darkness. That did not feel right. Later, I saw a comment of a supposed active Mormon calling someone an apostate. It felt like it was coming from a Muslim. My character has been assassinated before by other Mormons, by saying “I bet you watch R rated movies, too!” But I was never called an apostate. My name is still on the books, so far.
When I joined the Church at nineteen years old, I was told outer darkness was reserved for those who have seen God, and knew he was God, and rebelled against him. It has to be an insane reaction, like the attitude that Satan has. I was told the only people that are condemned to outer darkness so far were Cain and Judas Iscariot.
Lately I have seen that Mormon culture is becoming uglier. Calling people Apostates. Disowning homosexual sons and daughters. Telling Exmo’s that the reason they left the Church was because they wanted to sin. Maybe this has always been with us and I didn’t see it. There is a Mormon myth where a Father tells is son, as he begins his mission, that he would prefer his son to come back in a box than to have him return dishonorably. Thi is like an invitation to suicide for some, not at all appropriate
Personally, I don’t think outre darkness should even be taught. Let people find out about it on their own, most would not.
Seriously it’s all a fairy tale we evolved people. There is no afterlife we return to dust. No such thing as a spirit. The tooth fairy isn’t real nor is alah,elohim, or jywh. Just live and treat others kindly. Move on
I am a former Mormon, excommunicated to be exact. I served a mission, got married in the temple. Had children, still never gained a testimony. The blunt truth being is I’m GAY. I have been GAY since I was 10 years old, came out several times finally left the church when I was 35. I never really thought I was a bad person, just different. I never denied the gospel, never said I didn’t believe in Christ or God, why is this apostate word used in the LDS church, it’s a cruel heartless, judgemental word. Does the church think I’m really an apostate? Just wondering here in California.