Maybe that was an inspiration. I would argue that it is a triviality. We are talking trifles. More important doctrinal issues include race, patriarchy, deification, etc. These are issues that actually affect members lives. But then what do we do with the fetishism of an ideal family structure? This would certainly make more room in the kingdom for righteous singles without the patronizing reassurance that we can be married in the eternities.
I always sort of liked the fractal self-similarity of it. Who knew: maybe the highest Celestial level had three levels, too! And so on and so on… worlds without end? I think knowledge of the language of the period and that Joseph used makes it pretty clear that the three degrees Joseph spoke of were indeed those of our Section Not claiming support for that obviously, but if you classify 3 degrees of Godhood, essentially you could have married, unmarried, and something else? You could even take the idea of degrees and apply it to priesthood office — deacon, teacher, priest or elder, high priest, apostle, etc.
Those degrees titles, offices come with a responsibility so you can see how 1st degree celestial kingdom could be procreative spirit parents, and so on. Naturally all conjecture and I hesitate to share it for fear of being taken the wrong way. God can reveal these things and he might. Which goes back to the apostles teaching — so what? No need to reject it for you inability to find evidence of it. Imagine a triangle pointing up with a horizontal line through the middle touching each side and another vertical line coming down from that line to the base. I remember taking it for granted that section meant subdegrees, but then reading it on my mission and seeing it as inconclusive.
Reading it as subdegrees strikes me as an anachronistic reading, if for no other reason than that I think it would have been unusual for Joseph Smith to casually refer to the specific celestial kingdom without more explicitly connecting it back to his vision of the three degrees of glory, because the whole doctrine of the three degrees of glory was not nearly as fixed as we think of it today in the church.
The appeal of the sub-degrees reading is that it opens the celestial kingdom at least in part to the unmarried. That appeals to our universalist tendencies, and it avoids a potential conflict with the doctrine that faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit alone saves a person in the Celestial Kingdom. Interesting discussion. A couple otherwise worthy of the top but for their wicked consumption of Diet Coke and R-rated films? There are plenty of scriptures that we interpret differently than the original writer intended.
If this is one of them, so be it. There is no going back. When you start to think about the implications of discrete cutoffs between glories, lumping everyone ever into 4 or 6 baskets, with some people barely making some and barely failing to make it into others, the whole thing starts to feel pretty grotesque. I think the degrees of glory are an obvious simplification, which teaches very useful lessons about the consequences of our choices and our relationship to our Heavenly Parents, but which also has its limits as a description of reality.
Some people want to spend Sundays talking about why some people are better than others. Others want to spend Sundays feeling the spirit and serving. In reality we all fall on a continuum between those extremes. It might not be all that shocking. Obviously we know nothing. Then all will be well no matter how much the truth has been twisted and skewed. I think Kristine might be right. Literalism is one of the hardest things to sort out in the Mormon religious imagination.
There is great power in literal belief, but there is at least as much power in symbol. Taken too far, literalism wrecks a lot of beautiful things. Doctrine that says God feels the same way is very attractive, regardless of its truth or origin. Thanks for your work on this, Shannon.
Ditto, Loursat. You make a good case that the same can be profitably applied to reading all scripture. As LDS, we do tend to get stuck on scriptural inerrancy and literalism. I know—wishing gets us nowhere. Until I returned west a few years ago, I lived in upstate New York, where we had a branch president who was obsessed with doctrinal correctness. For him, right and wrong answers were what the gospel was all about. Branch council consisted of calendaring, followed by a long, McLaughlin-Group-style quiz on doctrine.
I have to say, I think the judgment bar of Christ is going to be about as different from that as anything could possibly be.
My ex FIL first introduced this idea to me about 20 years ago and I was so flabbergasted I set out to show him where it said there were indeed 3 degrees in the celestial kingdom. Realized that apparently the entire church had a reading comprehension issue. Including me, until someone pointed it out. Glad to see someone did some detective work on this interesting topic. Great research work, Shannon.
INSPIRATION FOR LIVING A LATTER-DAY SAINT LIFE
As to my thinking, I go along with the concept of the atonement as eternal and perfect. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. In context it still seems to me that both interpretations may be viable. I could see it going both ways. I have to agree with Steve. No matter where a person ends up there will be a need to progress. Progress is made on an individual basis, not as a group whether the celestial kingdom is one place of three.
Frankly in one sense I see as many degrees as there are people. I have read it and find it informative. What has not been discussed is our agency. Many do not want the responsibilities or the lifestyle of a higher kingdom. Maybe it can be compared to being worthy of a temple recommend while on this earth.
All are invited but many choose not to accept the invitation to progress. Are there references to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom? The highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom is exaltation; and that requires being righteous, sealed to a spouse, and living up to those additional covenants. So why even have splits in the Celestial Kingdom? On the one hand, I enjoy this kind of detective work about scripture and interpretation. Including the little tweak for know-it-alls. So thank you. On the other hand, I am born-that-way skeptical of every description and speculation about heaven.
Three sub-degrees has always seemed over-specified. It is a culturally significant teaching, and if you knock down the three sub-degrees I suppose another version will take its place. No, my brethren, there will be millions on millions, even the greater part of the celestial world, who will not be capable of a fulness of that glory, immortality, eternal lives and a continuation of them, yet they will go into the celestial kingdom. A paragraph was excised prior to publication and I am adding it here in the comments.
I think it is important to the argument I am making. Smith was an Apostle at the time and a son of Joseph F. Smith, Church president. Work on the Book had been underway since at least Hyrum M. In President Joseph F. Smith sent an interesting note Orson F. Whitney concerning the content of the book. You will please render your best assistance to see that no error in doctrine or inaccuracy in history, should there be any, escape notice.
Hyrum will confer with you as to the time that will be convenient for the reading. That made me remember I also thought J. He referenced Millennial Star in vol. The chosen vessels unto God are the kings and priests that are placed at the head of these kingdoms.
These have received their washing and anointings in the temple of God on this earth; they have been chosen, ordained, and anointed kings and priests, to reign as such in the resurrection of the just. Such as have not received the fullness of the priesthood, for the fullness of the priesthood includes the authority of both king and priest and have not been anointed and ordained in the temple of the Most High, may obtain salvation in the celestial kingdom, but not a celestial crown.
Many are called to enjoy a celestial glory, yet few are chosen to wear a celestial crown, or rather, to be rulers in the celestial kingdom. Again, it is our choice not to progress and receive a fullness of the blessings and power available to all. In every step of the way we have our agency to accept or reject. John, That is an important point. That seems to happen rarely, though given the instruction not to talk about it, it is hard to know how rarely. It could be a reflection of a common understanding among the Saints or even a speculation by the editor or by Elder A.
Nony Mouse. It will be seen by the above diagram that there are kingdoms of all sizes, an infinite variety to suit all grades of merit and ability. BTW, whoever wrote that piece in the Millennial Star did not express anything that suggests any interest in the place of women in the Kingdom of God. From a contemporary viewpoint, that is a major omission, but in I doubt it occurred to the writer or most of his readers. Glory, glory, glory…. Of course there are variations in any place there is.
In our fallen state we tend to turn variation into less and more, or good, better, best. I especially think big-heap leaders have to shoulder giving dang good talks all the time so they come up with ever different analogies folks can relate to. Challenged to lead us into eternal life, just wow! Glory day! And look how bored we often are with many talks. Bless their hearts.
As we eternally grow to become more like Christ and our goodly Heavenly Parents, light increases within us. Here in this estate it ebbs and flows. I expect that may be true in every estate. The more we learn and grow the more we glow. I know folks who truly shine and I can truthfully say I want to be like them when I grow up unto Christ…. Sing with me now folks……. Folks, you do such good posts here at BCC.
Thank you to writers and commentors alike. Keep it coming. Brent- Thank you for your input and references. Maybe I am reading it wrong but is sounds like it states children will remain children through eternity. I question that line of thinking. As I understand it children will be resurrected as children but will be raised by their parents in the millennium and will grow to maturity. They shall rise in immortal glory, grow to full maturity, and live forever in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom—all through the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah… they will be entitled to all the blessings which they would have been entitled to had they been privileged to tarry here and receive them.
Yes, I read the references. My point is both thoughts cannot be correct. I could be wrong but it seems to me eventually children will be able to progress to maturity. Maybe we will just have to wait and see. Great research! I tend to think of the degrees of glory more as rates of progression than as permanent separations. I also find the cult of perfectionism inherent in our exaltation languaging to be very demoralizing to most members. On the other hand, temple language, until the gendering becomes apparent, tends be empowering, not demoralizing.
I think there is a law half-irrivocably decreed, that you cant talk about the three kingdoms unless had vision. Vision club only. I imagine that Elder Bednar also learned it this way his whole life and has likely never needed to question the origins of such teaching. I am a professional transcriber of 19th century shorthand documents at the Church History Library. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like virtually all church bodies, practices a rite of baptism. However, it has an understanding of the significance of baptism that is quite different from that of traditional Christianity.
In this article, we will look at the relationship between baptism and salvation. We will reserve discussion of the extremely important issue of baptism for the dead for our articles responding to chapter 40 of Gospel Principles , which focuses on temple ordinances. Contrary to a popular misperception, the LDS Church does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation, but only for entrance into the celestial kingdom.
One can also find a good number of statements by LDS leaders that seem to confirm that in their view baptism is a prerequisite for salvation. According to James E. More recently, Dallin H. Such statements, however, are misleading. In LDS theology, there is a general, universal salvation that virtually everyone will receive. Baptism is necessary only for admission to the highest of those heavenly kingdoms.
United Celestial Kingdoms - No Man's Sky Wiki
A more accurate and informative way of stating the LDS doctrine, therefore, is that baptism is necessary for entrance into the celestial kingdom. It is easy to assume that remission of sins is itself an essential, if not the essential, aspect of salvation. However, in LDS doctrine remission or forgiveness of sins is necessary only for gaining entrance into the celestial kingdom. The vast majority of human beings will be saved into one of the lower heavenly kingdoms without receiving this remission of sins. Ironically, then, in LDS doctrine the only people who will not receive any salvation are people who have been baptized!
It turns out, then, that Mormons do not believe that people need to be baptized to receive immortality, or to live forever in a heavenly realm. On this point and in this respect, as odd as it might seem, Mormons and evangelicals actually agree that baptism is not necessary for salvation. The New Testament closely links baptism with forgiveness of sins, but it does not make baptism a prerequisite for salvation or forgiveness.
A close link between baptism and forgiveness of sins, or salvation, is evident in several biblical statements about baptism. The mistake here is subtle but significant. Baptism is related to forgiveness and salvation, but the relationship is that of symbol to reality. In other words, baptism symbolizes the reality of God forgiving us of our sins. The symbol neither creates that reality nor makes that reality possible. Rather, the symbol communicates something of the meaning of the reality and announces that it is effective in the lives of those who embrace it. The act of baptism symbolizes forgiveness of sins and expresses the acceptance of that gift by those who undergo baptism.
The rite or ritual of baptism does not save anyone, but what baptism represents is indeed necessary for salvation. A key statement in the Bible that makes this clear also comes from the apostle Peter. So we ought to be able to agree that Peter does not literally mean that baptism saves people. And in fact Peter makes it quite clear that he does not mean any such thing.
We are saved when we turn to God and appeal to him to show us mercy and give us a good, clean conscience by forgiving us of our sins. An analogy might help at this point. We call this a wedding. Is a wedding essential or necessary to be married? Not exactly. It is the normal, expected, proper rite in which the bride and groom express their commitment to the covenant of marriage, and without it we would feel something is missing. On the other hand, it is possible to be married without a formal wedding ceremony.
Some cultures formalize or initiate marriages in very different ways, and some couples in our culture become married before a justice of the peace which hardly counts as a wedding ceremony. It is not the rite that makes two people married, but the covenant or commitment between them that usually and normally a wedding expresses that makes them married.
Moreover, the elements of the rite are not necessary even if they are culturally customary. Must a couple exchange rings to be married?