The Three Kingdoms
In another group a guru with a Mormon background challenged me to a doctrinal duel. He challenged me to answer a question posed by a member telling me that his answer would have so much light that it would put mine to shame.
As you know, I like a good challenge so I accepted and wrote a response. But after I posted, the guy quit his own group and never participated in his own challenge.
I thought I would post my response here. I know those with LDS experience will enjoy it, but the non-LDS should also if I give you a little background.
Standard LDS doctrine teaches that after death you go to the spirit world to await the great judgement. The spirit world has two divisions, one called paradise and the other a spirit prison.
Then after a period of time comes the resurrection where all take their bodies back up again and are judged and sent to a kingdom of glory. There are three kingdoms of glory. The highest is the celestial which has the glory of the sun. This is where the really good guys go.
The second is the terrestrial which has the glory of the moon. This is where your next-door neighbor goes who is a good citizen.
The lowest is the telestial. This is where the liars, thieves and general bad guys go.
Finally, there is a kingdom so bad that it has no glory. This is outer darkness where those who fight against God go to live with Satan.
A lot of these ex-Mormon gurus think I am going there.
That said here was my response.
Chris, who sees himself as a modern-day Elijah challenged me (who he sees as a priest of Baal) to draw down fire (revelation) from heaven.
I am still here with my fire.
Where is Chris?
Oh, well, I will continue (with or without him) since I said I would.
I was asked to comment on a member’s post. This is not really a question but a request for elaboration, so I will elaborate.
He writes: Chris, I have a question/issue with the idea of different bodies that I hope you can help me with.
First some background. I know 1Cor 15:40 speaks of “bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial”. BUT the rest of the verse speaks of the “glory” of these bodies: “but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.”
The thought came that perhaps “glory” was the only differentiating factor between the different bodies.
Then I remembered D&C 88:28: “They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the SAME BODY which was a NATURAL BODY; even ye shall receive YOUR BODIES, and your GLORY shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.”
That verse indicated that we will receive our natural body, but that the difference would be “that glory by which your bodies are quickened”. It supported the idea that the only differentiating factor was “glory”.
Finally, I was studying the Book of Mormon, and for the first time, picked-up on a sequence of events that I’d overlooked before. Again and again, it tells us that FIRST is the RESURRECTION. THEN comes the JUDGMENT.
Of course, the problem is – IF resurrected “bodies” are different, depending on the kingdom we inherit, we would need to FIRST be judged and assigned a kingdom … THEN be resurrected. But that is not the sequence taught in the BofM!!
Can you help shed some light on this???
JJ Response: The first thing to understand is that the typical Mormon understanding of the three degrees, the resurrection, the pre-existence is extremely flawed, caused partially by a lack of full explanation given by Joseph Smith or the scriptures.
Yet Joseph did leave several clues in the D&C and his writings. In the preceding verses to that which John quoted we read: “For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body.” D&C 88:27
What is this? The dead will rise in a spiritual body? That means they will have a physical body, but spirit in their veins right?
Not quite. Here is another hint. We are told this about the terrestrial inhabitants: “And also they who are the SPIRITS of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it. These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.” D&C 76:73-75
What is this? You thought terrestrial inhabitants were physical, but here we learn from one scripture they rise in a spiritual body and even in the nonphysical afterlife there are terrestrial people who are called “spirits.”
Well, that’s because he’s just a terrestrial consciousness who has not been resurrected says one.
Not so says Joseph Smith: “Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but his is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place (terrestrial place) prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and WHO AS YET HAVE NOT ENTEREDINTO SO GREAT A FULLNESS AS THOSE WHO ARE RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD.” Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” TPJS Pg 170
What’s this??? The terrestrial kingdom is a place occupied by ministering angels who are not yet “resurrected from the dead.”
How do they minister to many planets if they are confined to a physical body? But if they are in a spiritual body this would be possible.
Now let us move up to the celestial kingdom. What are we told about this? Surely, this highest kingdom will be composed of physical beings only.
Most Latter-Day Saints assume that when they are exalted they will automatically receive the resurrection, but obviously they have not read the teachings of their founder: “You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, FROM EXALTATION TO EXALTATION, UNTIL YOU ATTAIN TO THERESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.” DHC 6:306
We not only have to be exalted once, but a number of times before we overcome death. After all Paul said: “The LAST enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” I Cor 15: Concerning those who receive an exaltation it is written “And they SHALL (not have) overcome all things.” D&C 76:60 Thus even after one receives an exaltation he has to overcome many things, and the LAST thing to overcome is death, and this only occurs after passing through numerous exaltations. All those who have not passed through numerous exaltations will therefore attain another type of resurrection which is being brought to life again by being reborn, or reincarnation. These are the inhabitants of the telestial, terrestrial, and some of the celestial kingdom, but not the sons of perdition. These sons of perdition will attain no resurrection in this sphere of activity, but will be sent back to their native element to start all over again.
The scriptures tell us that the celestial inhabitants can choose whether or not to be subjected to death or endless life: “Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether LIFE OR DEATH, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” D&C 76:59
This is a very subtle scripture but there is no escaping the fact that the choice of either “life or death” belongs to celestial inhabitants. After all, that is what it says in black and white. We are clearly told that the celestial inhabitants are the only ones with any type of immortality: “For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element INSEPARABLY CONNECTED, receive a fulness of joy.” D&C 93:3
Who receives a fulness of joy? We know the son of perdition does not and of the telestial inhabitants it is written: “These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who receive NOT of his fulness…” D&C 76:84&86
The terrestial inhabitants also miss this fulness: “These (those in the terrestial world) are they who receive of his glory, BUT NOT OFHIS FULNESS.” D&C 76:76
Immortality in either of these two lower worlds is impossible according to D&C 93:33 because they do not have fulness of joy; therefore, their spirits and bodies are NOT inseparably connected. Where does one receive a fulness of joy? “In thy presence is fulness of joy.” Psalms 16:11 “They shall inherit the kingdom of God…and their joy shall be full forever.” II Nephi 9:18
These scriptures indicate that a fulness of joy only takes place in the presence of God or the celestial kingdom. Therefore, the celestial is the only one of the three revealed kingdoms where the spirit and body are “inseparably connected”. Thus, of the three kingdoms, only the celestial has any degree of immortality and even there immortality is by choice. They can choose “life or death”. In other words, they can live in an immortal state until they feel they need some new challenge. Then they choose mortality or “death” as did Adam.
The church has taught from the beginning that the earth is a part of the telestial kingdom. During the temple ceremony in the telestial room the speaker reveals: “Brethren and sisters, this room represents the telestial kingdom, OR THE WORLD IN WHICH WE NOW LIVE.” The description of the telestial world given in the Doctrine and Covenants correlates with the information given in the temple revealing that planet earth is the real telestial kingdom.
The highest inhabitants of the telestial world “shall be servants of the Most High.” D&C 76:112 and the lowest “are they who suffer the wrath of God ON EARTH.” D&C 76:104 We are further told that the telestial inhabitants receive “the administering of angels (as did Joseph Smith) who are appointed to minister for them, or who are to be ministering spirits for them; for they (us here on the earth now, the telestial inhabitants) shall be heirs of salvation.” D&C 76:88
The original temples were built with three rooms representing the three kingdoms. The saints progressed from one room or kingdom to another thus demonstrating with profound clarity that we pass from one life to another until we leave the telestial and go to a higher world, the terrestrial, and finally, the celestial.
But that is not all. The celestial is NOT the highest. The scriptures tell us there are realms higher than this: In the celestial kingdom “the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17 will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to A HIGHER ORDER OF KINGDOMS will be made known.” D&C 130:10
Higher orders of kingdoms than the celestial??? That’s something we were not taught in Sunday School, but there it is in the scriptures. No revelation has elaborated on these higher kingdoms, and why should they? The telestial kingdom that we are presently in “surpasses all understanding”. A description of any kingdom above the celestial would have no meaning to us in our present state of consciousness. Those who fall short of the highest resurrection (the resurrection of life) and yet do not become sons of perdition are reincarnated and generally come back in another life to this telestial world. When we fall short of the perfection of Christ the scriptures tell us that our defiled bodies will be destroyed and there will be a continuing separation of body and spirit until we overcome all things. The scripture decrees: “And when separated (spirit and body), man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; (referring to our bodies) and whatsoever temple (body) is defiled, GOD SHALLDESTROY THAT TEMPLE.” D&C 93:34-35
Now we understand why it is written that “the wages of sin is death.” Rom 6:23 When we sin and our bodies are defiled we are clearly told they will be destroyed. This is why we are told that “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” I Cor 15:26 We live life after life in the telestial kingdom each time sinning and falling short of the glory of God, leaving our bodies behind to be destroyed until we finally “come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:13) and manifest the glory of God through a life of sinlessness. At that time we “put on immortality” as did Jesus. The Bible agrees with modern day revelation on this subject: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, HIM SHALL GOD DESTROY; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” I Cor 3:16-17
Paul talks about the two resurrections and informs us that one will bring “corruption” and the other “life everlasting”: “For every man shall bear his own burden…Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall OF THE FLESH REAP CORRUPTION; (the resurrection of KRISIS or rebirth in mortality) but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (or the resurrection of life).” Gal 6:5-8
The word “corruption” here comes from the Greek PHTHORA which is derived from PHTHEIRO the same word that is used when Paul said that God shall “destroy” the defiled temples. PHTHORA indicates a state of “decay”.
Thus Paul is simply telling us over and over that if our mind is centered on carnal things we will not put on immortality but reap corruption, decay, and eventually have our bodies destroyed. How else can this scripture be fulfilled unless we are born again and put on mortality instead of immortality? How can we “of the flesh reap corruption” in the telestial kingdom if the inhabitants are all immortal and there is no corruption or decay?
How do we escape the resurrection of corruption? “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life (the resurrection of life), AND SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION (“Condemnation” comes from KRISIS and means the resurrection of life): but is passed from death to life.” John 5:24 The scriptures plainly tell us that there are two resurrections. In the resurrection of life we put on immortality, but still have the free will to choose death. In the resurrection of corruption we will continue to live in a mortal state where our bodies are subjected to decay and destruction.
Conclusion: The three kingdoms talked about in the scriptures represent the three states of matter or the three worlds of form.
The telestial kingdom is our regular physical universe. Look up at the planets, stars and galaxies out there. All of them including this earth are a part of this kingdom. Etheric matter and the lowest part of the spirit prison (astral world) could also be called telestial.
The terrestrial kingdom is a higher vibration composed of positive emotional or desire matter. This is the same matter that creates paradise as mentioned in the scriptures. The lower parts of the spirit prison are created by negative emotional matter.
The celestial kingdom is composed of thought matter created by higher mind.
Those kingdoms higher than the celestial (of which Joseph spoke) are composed of high spiritual vibration beyond the power of images to convey. Sages in the East call these the formless worlds. Buddha called them nirvana.
Finally, the reader asks, “I was studying the Book of Mormon, and for the first time, picked-up on a sequence of events that I’d overlooked before. Again and again, it tells us that FIRST is the RESURRECTION. THEN comes the JUDGMENT.”
There are several ways to interpret this, as is the case with all scripture. When we die, we go through a correspondence of a resurrection and wind up in a spiritual body in one of the kingdoms. After this occurs, and we spend the appointed time there we are judged and sent back to the earth in a new body to reap that which we have sown until we experience the final resurrection of eternal life.
The true last judgement will take place at the end of life on the physical earth, millions of years hence, where DK tells us that 60% of the people will pass on to higher realms and 40% will move on to another telestial earth to continue their lessons.
“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott
March 25, 2005
Copyright by J J Dewey
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