Reincarnation and Mormonism, Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Reincarnation & Mormonism


“Great God!   Where is common sense and reason?  Is there none on the earth?” exclaimed a somewhat frustrated Joseph Smith as he was trying to drill the simplest logic into the minds of the saints.  (See Documentary History of the Church Vol 5:297)

He also said: “There has been great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation.  It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle.  Even the saints are slow to understand.  I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, WILL  FLY TO PIECES LIKE GLASS as soon as anything comes that is CONTRARY TO THEIR TRADITIONS:  they cannot stand the  fire at all.  How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.”  DHC 6:183-185

Here we see Joseph’s feelings after trying to teach the simplest truths.  Imagine the difficulty he would have had if he had taught about reincarnation.   We will show that he believed in the doctrine, but wisely kept it to himself for this was one of the hidden mysteries that he dared not reveal.

The teaching of reincarnation as presented here is truly a two edged sword.  Members of the Mormon Church cannot be luke warm to this revealed concept.  They will either delight in the truth of this glorious revelation, or fight with all their strength to denounce it as a doctrine of the devil.

This article will prove beyond refutation that the latter simply cannot be done!  All truth is logical and we will show without doubt from the scriptures and the words of the prophets that the holy doctrine of reincarnation provides the only possible solution to the dilemma regarding the injustices among men and the salvation of  his eternal soul.

Will good LDS members fly apart like glass as the true doctrine of eternal lives is now clearly presented, or will they open their hearts and minds and let the Holy Spirit of God verify these things to them as it has to us?

We’ll begin with two well known statements made by Joseph Smith that strongly indicate that he knew of the doctrine of multiple lives, but felt it would be disaster to express it publicly.  To the Twelve he said:  “Would to God, brethren, I could tell you WHO I AM!  Would to God I could tell you what I know!  But you would call it blasphemy and want to take my life.” (Life of Heber C. Kimball; Page 333)

On Sunday, April 7, 1844, just two  months before  his martyrdom he gave one of his strongest public hints to the fact that he had previous lives he could not reveal.  This was his finest hour as he addressed twenty thousand Saints on the character of God at the funeral of King Follett.  At the end of this, one of his last sermons on the earth, he said:  “NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY.  I CANNOT TELL IT.  I shall never undertake it.  I don’t blame anyone for not believing my history.  If I  had not experienced what I have, I would have not believed it myself…When I am called by the trump of the  archangel and weighed in the balance, YOU WILL ALL KNOW ME THEN.   I add no more.  God bless you all.  Amen”  [Documentary History of the Church; Vol 6:  Page 317]

What was there in his history that “no man” knew and that he could not tell?  Why would those closest to him want to take his life if he revealed himself?   These were indeed strange statements from the Prophet for many were quite familiar with his history as Joseph Smith.  In fact,  he insisted on having a scribe  by his side at all times for the purpose of keeping an exact historical  record.  Whatever it was in his history that he was holding back was never clearly revealed to the church in his age or in the present age.  One thing we do know for sure, however, is that it would have been startling.

What would the saints  have done if he had said something like this? “Brethren, I wish to reveal myself unto you.  Keeping this within myself has been a heavy burden and I wish to unload it.  Let me read you a verse from Daniel, chapter twelve, verses ten and thirteen concerning a promise to this man:  ‘Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly:  and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand… But go thy way until the end be:  for thou shalt rest, AND STAND IN THY LOT AT THE END OF DAYS.’

“Here we are told, brethren, that there are many things to transpire in the latter days that only the wise will understand, so use wisdom,  and know that the prophecy made to Daniel is now fulfilled and will yet be fulfilled in a greater measure for Daniel is here standing before you, only he is now known as Brother Joseph.  Before my life as Daniel, I reigned as King David, and before that I was Joseph who was sold into Egypt.  In more recent history I was Mormon, so you see that when Moroni appeared to me he was not working with any stranger.

“This is not all.  I am a stranger and pilgrim to this planet and have lived in other star systems in ages past where I learned the lessons necessary to fulfill my mission on the earth which encompasses not only past lives,  and the present, but future lives as well…

We ask you.  Would a revelation such as that have evoked a response or not?   The reaction would have been violent.  The brethren would have been so shocked and angry that they would have decided that Joseph would have to be silenced to save the honor of the church, and they would have killed him in the name of the Kingdom of God

Unfortunately, the time was not ripe to reveal the doctrine of reincarnation, or “eternal lives”  as Joseph called it, for the people would have hardened their hearts to that truth and it would have hindered the church of God.  The Prophet realized this when he stated:  “It is not always wise to relate all truth.”  DHC 6:608.

He also said: “The design of the great God in sending us into this world, and organizing us to prepare us for the eternal worlds, I SHALL KEEP IN MY OWN BOSOM at present.”   DHC 5:403

In addition he said:  “I have NEVER had the opportunity to give them (the saints) the plan that God has revealed to me.”  DHC 3:286

Now the average Mormon believes he has a pretty good grasp of the plan of salvation and the reason for his mortal existence, but the founder, Joseph Smith, said he was not even able to reveal it.  Therefore, none of the members of the church today are even aware of “the design of the great God in sending us into this world” for that design includes a series of rebirths until each of us eventually attains perfection..

Joseph also refused to elaborate on the conversation of Jesus and Nicodemus when he was asked the meaning of  “Except a man be born of water  and the spirit?” (See DHC 5:325)

Are not we all aware that this merely refers to baptism and the receiving of the Holy Ghost? Members in Joseph’s time were also aware of this.  Therefore, what interpretation of this scripture was Joseph keeping from us?

Let us review it and see: Jesus was talking with Nicodemus and said: “Except a man be BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

“Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee.  Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of flesh  is flesh; and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth:  so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.

“Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” John 3:3-10

Jesus began the conversation  by making the point blank statement that a man must be  born again to see the kingdom and Nicodemus immediately  assumed he was referring to some kind of physical rebirth.  Jesus did not deny this, but began to elaborate and tell Nicodemus that a person must go through two rebirths to see the kingdom of God.

The first rebirth is of the flesh.  A person born in the flesh is “born of water”,  for before birth a baby is completely submerged in water in the mother’s womb.  Baptism is given as a symbol of rebirth,  or reincarnation, but the real meaning here that Joseph was hesitant to reveal is that the physical kingdom  of God was not to manifest in the days of Jesus and one must be born again in the flesh (reincarnated in a future age) to see it.

Jesus also said that the kingdom of God is within us.  This is the Spiritual kingdom, and to see this one must be born again of the Spirit and receive the Holy Ghost.  Those who are born of the Spirit are like the wind, said Jesus.  You can’t tell where they come from or where they go.

What did he mean by this?  It is quite simple.  Those who are born of the Spirit as was Jesus and the prophets show up among mankind unexpectedly and the people they confront are confounded.  They wonder who they are, where they came from, and where they got their  great knowledge.  To ordinary people these avatars are like the wind.   They hear them and marvel, but don’t know where they came from or where they are going.  People are not aware when they are confronted by an advanced being that is born of the Spirit because their identities are hid as they are born again in new bodies from life to life.

Those who are born again are free to come and go on the earth as they choose as Jesus hinted at: “I am the door:  by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, AND SHALL GO IN AND OUT (of physical bodies like the wind) and find pasture.”  John 10:9

Those who are not born again are dragged in and out of mortality with little choice as to where and when they will be born.  A true disciple of Jesus has a great advantage in being able to plan his life and mission on the earth.

Nicodemus was astounded by this doctrine of Jesus.  He knew he was talking about something deeper than ordinances and exclaimed:  “How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?”

If Jesus appeared to the modern day authorities in the Mormon Church and taught reincarnation would not they exclaim as Nicodemus:  “How can these things be?”

His ancient answer would still be appropriate:  “Art thou masters in Israel, and knowest not these things?”

Fortunately we are approaching: “A time to come in the which NOTHING shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many Gods, they shall be manifest.  All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”  D&C  121:28-29   “…All shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.”  D&C 84:98  “And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven.”  D&C 76:9  “For precept MUST be upon precept.”  Isa 28:10

Copyright by J J Dewey

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7 thoughts on “Reincarnation and Mormonism, Part 1

  1. I was raised LDS and found that the presented elements felt incomplete and that I needed more understanding. That is when I found The Immortal through a series of interesting, and perspective-altering experiences. What I can suggest to anyone questioning is that if you seek answers through prayer intending to build a relationship with Heavenly Father without predisposition to the answer you expect to receive… your understanding and relationship with Truth can become expansive beyond what you can imagine at this point. Embrace your position as a Child of God and use that bond to truly understand your Maker.

  2. If reincarnation is Gods plan, how can we truly progress through it if most of humankind does not remember our previous lives? If we can’t remember what we have learned from past lives, what good is it to be born into a new person? How can we progress if we don’t remember the lessons learned from a previous life?

    1. Another question along those lines that I think is important to ask is why such a process is part of God’s plan at all, considering that many lives are in abject poverty and misery. If reincarnation is part of God’s plan, then one has to wonder what other suffering that God has planned for us. I don’t remember signing up for any of it so as far as I’m concerned, even if reincarnation and God’s plan is real, at best it is immaterial and at worst it makes God an enemy who should be slain.

      Reincarnation has been used by religious elites to oppress the poor for a long time. It’s still an issue in many parts of the world such as India. With that in mind, teachers of reincarnation as God’s plan should stuff their frustrations about not being heard, make a serious effort into distinguishing themselves from the charlatans preaching similar things, and stop hiding behind unresolvable claims like access to a higher sight. If they can’t do that, then the only response they should reasonably expect is to be told to take a long hike into the ocean. We owe them no credence.

  3. there is something that opposes this theory. Joseph Smith published a multiplicity, which was terrible for most members of the Church, and now it turns out that reincarnation is worse, which is not true at all and is also completely illogical. According to this theory, if it were true, the Church was not completely restored.

  4. Interesting story, Larry. Can’t say I’m surprised in the least!

    I do hope that a leader will rise among the Mormon ranks who will be able to see clearly and let the world have access to ALL that Joseph taught – among other things 🙂

    There are hopeful signs that more LDS members are finally re-discovering Joseph’s reincarnation teachings and those found in their scriptures. Evidence of such is the various postings from some of the fringe Mormon bloggers I read occasionally, and the fact that there have been a few Sunstone Symposium presentations about reincarnation! (They are really good, and can be found at Sunstone’s website for those interested!) I am forever grateful for the day I ran into JJ’s Eternal Lives books.

    God bless

  5. Larry Woods says,

    I’ve got a story to add on this topic of reincarnation and Mormonism. About the time I discovered JJ on the Internet and read his Immortal book series, I wondered increasingly about reincarnation. All the many Near Death Experiences I read over the years pointed to reincarnation. Finally, I visited my daughter who lives near BYU. Her father-in-law was John Hall, a “Chaired” Professor of Religion at BYU. After we attended a graduation ceremony for a family member, we congregated at the building where John Hall worked at that time. He was dressed in his multi-colored doctoral robes since he had attended the graduation ceremony too. I noticed everyone stood out in the hall milling around and talking excitedly after we all had piled into John’s office. So I walked in while John sat there alone and asked him about reincarnation. I told him my reasons which swayed me toward reincarnation. I figured if I was gonna get set straight on this, now was my chance since John represented the highest echelon of religious doctrinal authority in the whole Mormon Church short of the Apostles and the Prophet.

    Johns answer startled me. He said, “You came to this on your own. I am not going to take that away from you. I believe it myself. I will die soon with this severe heart condition and I look forward to my next assignment.” My jaw hit the floor! John then explained that Joseph Smith Jr. had taught reincarnation. One example he gave was the testimony of Orson F. Whitney. Orson learned about reincarnation when he attended the funeral of Eliza Roxcy Snow, a Mormon pioneer heroine. Eliza’s brother, Lorenzo Snow (who was then the Prophet of the Mormon Church), told Orson that Eliza believed in reincarnation. Orson asked why. Lorenzo said Joseph Smith Jr. taught it to her. Lorenzo said he could find no scriptural doctrine that did not sit nicely with reincarnation and added that he believed it himself. [For myself, I reckon that resurrection comes after many preliminary lifetimes after we complete all our character growth to perfection.] Orson must have thought much on that. He went on to write an epic poem all about reincarnation, Elias, which gained much fame in the Church. I since looked up this poem for myself.

    John also mentioned several documents which the Church keeps under lock and key (because of John Hall’s special position as a Professor of Religion at BYU he was allowed to freely access all the locked away material) and they do not allow anyone to publish any part of these documents. One of them for example, held in the locked archive in the BYU library, contains a vision recorded by Joseph Smith Jr. in which he visited the home of God. Would not the Church do well to publish ALL truth related by Joseph Smith Jr. and other Apostles and Prophets? Another document, for example, which rests in the archives at the Church offices in Salt Lake City, contains the Patriarchal Blessing given to David Whitmer by Joseph Smith Sr.

    This Catholic-like attitude to hide from inconvenient scripture is not becoming of any man of God. Reincarnation shines obvious in these documents which the Church keeps from its members. As an LDS Missionary back in 1969 to 1971 in the Florida Mission, I had been taught to bad-mouth the Catholic Church for withholding certain writings of Jesus’ twelve Apostles which taught about prayer circles and other Temple details and about ordinance work for the dead (a Mormon theological theme). But now here was the Mormon Church doing the very same despicable practice! As I thought about this more I became angry because I know people who got excommunicated from the Mormon Church for believing reincarnation. I have since forgiven the Church since most of their leaders do not have a clue what JS actually taught on this subject. Ignorance is bliss. All this helped bring to an end my 39+ years as a tithe-paying temple-recommend-holding true-believer authority-following Mormon. But even John Hall was afraid to publically teach reincarnation. Yet those few high up leaders who exercise supreme authority in the Church and who know Joseph’s teachings on reincarnation but who keep the lid clamped on it act despicably, IMHO. Would to God that He may grant us leaders and teachers who hold truth unafraid above any and all possible consequences like Isaiah of old. I think the very first sign of sound leadership returning to the Mormon Church will be publication of all these hidden works and dealing with all the consequences honestly.

    Your brother,
    Larry Woods

    1. I testify in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ it is true. It is a part of the plan of our Eternal Father. I know it for many reasons and I know brothers one day it will all be brought to light. Maybe not as soon as we would like but it will. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.

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