Progression Between Kingdoms

I thought I’d post here a few quotes in favor of the concept of progression/regression between kingdoms. I began to look up all the quotes until I discovered that the folks at the New Cool Thang blog had already done all the hard work. I reproduce the quotes here for my own benefit so I can always find them in the future when the need arises, giving the credit to others for finding them.

“The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.”

-Secretary to the First Presidency in a 1952 letter; and again in 1965

“None would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods — all others would have to inherit another kingdom — they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow process [progress?].”

-Brigham Young, in Wilford Woodruff Journal, 5 Aug 1855

“Once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but the privilege of passing from one to another (though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters) is not provided for.”

-Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 14:87 [November 1910]

“I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come.”

-J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 23 April 1960, p. 3

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

-James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith [1899 edition] pp. 420-421

You that are mourning about your children straying away will have your sons and your daughters. If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity. When Jesus went through that terrible torture on the cross, He saw what would be accomplished by it; He saw that His brethren and sistersCthe sons and daughters of GodCwould be gathered in, with but few exceptionsCthose who committed the unpardonable sin. That sacrifice of the divine Being was effectual to destroy the powers of Satan. I believe that every man and woman who comes into this life and passes through it, that life will be a success in the end. It may not be in this life. It was not with the antedeluvians. They passed through troubles and afflictions; 2,500 years after that, when Jesus went to preach to them, the dead heard the voice of the Son of God and they lived. They found after all that it was a very good thing that they had conformed to the will of God in leaving the spiritual life and passing through this world.

Lorenzo Snow, MS 56:49-53; Collected Discourses 3:364-65.

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

B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God 1:391-392.

Some years ago I was in Washington, D.C., with President Harold B. Lee. Early one morning he called me to come into his hotel room. He was sitting in his robe reading Gospel Doctrine, by President Joseph F. Smith, and he said, “Listen to this!

“ ‘Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time, except the sons of perdition. That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission.’ ” 22

“There is never a time,” the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin.” 23

Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 18

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4 comments on “Progression Between Kingdoms

  1. Sam says:

    James wrote; <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I think that there are significant benefits to living by faith in mortality. With God’s help, we can actually have a change in our nature, which is necessary for our progression.

    Our willingness to choose the right and follow God when living by faith only, is an indication that we will be trustworthy of greater power and responsibility in the next life. Perhaps God is not willing to give power, knowledge and responsibility to those who did not demonstrate faithfulness in this life, because the results could be disastrous in the hands of one who uses such knowledge and power for evil.

    Our demonstrating our willingness to follow God in mortality is an extreme test of our character. It will flush out who and what we truly are. I think that maybe you are assuming that our nature and desires will change in the next life as well. But that might not be true.

    Perhaps you are right though, and I don’t have a hard stance either way.

  2. James says:

    Good thoughts Sam. As with many things in Mormonism the little that we do know on a given subject only leads to more questions.

    I agree with you that mortality is the ultimate proving ground (that is the point after all). Any progression/regression in our godly attributes that takes place outside of mortality could possibly take longer, not be as intense, and the results may be more difficult to interpret.

    I see what you mean about the risk of givine knowledge and power to those who may, possibly, be a higher risk of using impropertly. I don’t know if we (Mormonism) has a strong consensus on what the source of this “power” will be for the exalted. If we unplug from God, will we lose the power that comes with it?

    If I wasn’t clear in my post, I don’t believe our natures or personalities will change after mortality, except to the extent that we continue to be refined by Christ and made holy.

    Good thoughts. I appreciate it. Like you, I don’t have strong views on this. I know that I like it, and that it makes sense to me, but it isn’t something I’m going to get hung up on.

    James

  3. andrewimiller says:

    James,

    Fabulous post and thoughts. I wish I saw it sooner. You mention children who die before the years of accountability and a straight ticket to the Celestial Kingdom, etc. I’ve thought a lot about that. If you were to speculate, what would you suggest might be between death and the Celestial Kingdom for them? Maybe a probation of sorts in a terrestrial sphere (aka the Millennium)?

  4. James says:

    I’m sure you have thought a lot about that, my friend.

    I don’t really have every gear and cog worked out, but I believe that the spirits of children who die may possibly bypass the spirit world (“paradise”) and go straight to the presence of the Father, even before resurrection. This would essentially be a return to their status before leaving pre-mortality. They didn’t get an opportunity to live a mortal lifetime of learning and faith behind the veil, so their character development and spiritual progression will have to take place through some other means. I absolutely believe that other opportunities for progression exist outside of mortality. I imagine it is a slower process, though, as part of the purpose of mortality is to speed up our spiritual development.

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