What is the mormon view of the afterlife? Three heavens?


3 Responses to “What is the mormon view of the afterlife? Three heavens?”

Ricardo Duarte
March 5, 2008

The Mormon view of the afterlife, while based on Biblical teachings, nevertheless differs somewhat from the post-creedal view many other Christian denominations have adopted. Without going in to too much detail, allow me to briefly outline the Mormon view with accompanying Biblical support.

After death, Mormons believe the bodies of men and women are separated from their spirits. Human spirits go to a place called the “Spirit World.” In the Spirit World, there are two divisions. One division is called “Spirit Prison” (Isa. 24:22, Isa. 49:9, Isa. 61:1, Luke 4:18, John 5:25, 1 Pet. 3:1, 1 Pet. 4:6). “Spirit Prison” contains not only the souls of the wicked, but also the souls of many righteous people who through no fault of their own never had a chance to learn of Jesus Christ or to receive essential ordinances like baptism. The other division of the Spirit World is called Paradise (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 12:4). Paradise contains the souls of the righteous who did have the chance to learn of Jesus in mortality and to receive sacred ordinances.

Those human souls in Paradise preach to their brothers and sisters in Spirit Prison, helping them learn of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the living on Earth can perform vicarious baptisms (1 Cor. 15:29) and other ordinances in Mormon temples on behalf of their ancestors so that the essential ordinances are available to those in Spirit Prison if they choose to accept them. Thus, unlike many other Christian denominations, Mormons do not believe that those of other faiths, even non-Christian faiths, are destined for damnation.

At a future day, Mormons believe Jesus Christ will judge every man and woman based on their faith and personal effort to follow His commandments (1 Sam. 2:10, Ps. 9:7, Ps. 50:4, Eccl. 3:17, Eccl. 11:9, Eccl. 12:14, Dan. 7:10, Dan. 7:26, Matt. 12:36, Matt. 16:27, Matt. 25:32, John 5:22, John 12:48, Acts 17:31, Rom. 14:10, 1 Pet. 4:6, 2 Pet. 2:4, 1 Jn. 4:17, Jude 1:6, Rev. 14:7, Rev. 20:12). Every man and woman will be resurrected (return to life), just as Jesus Himself was resurrected. At death the spirit and the body were separated; at resurrection, the physical body and the spirit are again reunited, working in perfect harmony as they did in mortality. After the resurrection and the Final Judgment, Christ will offer the righteous an eternal reward.

What is the nature of this eternal reward? As Mormons understand the Bible, heaven is not one single place. Mormons believe in a heaven made of three “kingdoms” or “degrees of glory” (1 Cor. 15:39-41, 2 Cor. 12:2, John 14:2), called the Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial kingdoms.

In the Celestial or highest kingdom, Mormons believe that, under the guidance and tutelage of God our Father and His divine Son Jesus Christ, human beings will grow and develop. This concept of “theosis” or “exhaltation” is important in Mormonism. Every faithful Mormons hopes to one day become more like God, through the grace of Christ.

April 17, 2008

The “three heavens” as explained by the webmaster are after the final judgment. If we want to know the ins and outs of the space between judgement and death we read Alma’s words to his son Corianton as follows:

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. ” (Alma 40: 11-14)

Seems pretty bleak, but Alma didn’t get the whole picture because the picture wasn’t painted during his lifetime. Christ wasn’t born, killed, and resurected till 100 years after Alma’s question was answered by the angel.

Later-day revelation has added information on what Jesus’ spirit did durring the three days his mortal body was lying in the tomb in Palistien as follows:

“Between his death and resurrection, the Savior visited the world of departed spirits. There he taught the righteous and authorized faithful spirits to preach the gospel to all the dead, including the wicked, so that everyone would have the opportunity to accept the full gospel of salvation. ” (teachings of Joseph Smith pp. 191, 218–23)

So the righteous spirits rest from their troubles, but are given opportunity to find continued joy in teaching their brothers and sisters who either didn’t have a chance, or chose not to listen for whatever reason, to God’s ‘full gospel (plan) of salvation’ in this life.

Alma, being a prophet speaking further truth on the subject from God, also stated this: “And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other— the one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness. These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil. Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved. ” (Alma 41: 3-8)|

April 17, 2008

I need to add an apendage to my last answer by explaining knowing these truths is why LDS do temple work for everyone we can. We never know who beyond the veil will be taught by the righteous spirits, accept the gospel, and need to obtain all the rest of the ordanances of salvation.

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