My mind reflects back now to another curiosity in Mormon doctrine caused by a lack of information. The Church believes that many of us will go to the celestial
kingdom and there become Gods and have spirit children and eventually create our own worlds and people them. Then our children on those worlds will pray to us and
worship us as Gods. Since the course of God is "one eternal round" (I Nephi 10:19) that means that the course of God in the past will be like that of the future.
Taking this into account it means that our God at one time lived on another world like this. This is recognized by Mormon doctrine since Lorenzo Snow said
"as man is God once was." Now the question that arises is this: When God was on this other world was he the Savior of that world, or was he an Apostle, or maybe
he was just an Elder who was a faithful home teacher? Then too he may have died as a baby and only breathed a few breaths. Maybe he was born during a Millennium
and knew no sin.
Let's suppose that God was a typical member of the Church in His day. He had to spend most of his life just earning a living. He paid his tithes and offerings and did his home teaching and obeyed his Bishop. He never had any opportunity to be a savior for he would have never dreamed of comparing himself to such. Finally, he died and went off to the spirit world and there by some mysterious process learned everything necessary to be a God. Now he is up there in heaven and we worship him. The question I have is, would not God feel humiliated to have a Son like Jesus who showed him up so much when he came down for his life? If this were the case then Jesus did ten times as good in his earth life as his Father did. How can I show due respect to a God that has not experienced all the tribulation of earth life that I have? Such a God could not succor me in every time of need. One can only have a very limited number of experiences and trials in one life. Each person I meet can only understand a portion of my problems because only a portion of his problems are similar to mine. What right did God have to command Abraham to take the life of his son or Jesus to be crucified if he had not went through a similar experience himself? What right did God have to expect his son to be a savior if he had not done so himself?
Let us suppose that ten million souls on God's original earth made it to the celestial kingdom and became Gods. That would roughly mean that we have one chance in ten million of having for our god the person that was the savior of a world. Chances would be our God is merely some Elder that did his duty, but wait! The scriptures tell us that we are the lucky ones! Our God was the Savior of a world. Jesus said:
"The Son can do nothing of himself, but what HE SEETH THE FATHER DO: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth." (John 5:19-20)
Here we have it! God must have been a savior at one time for what Jesus did when he was here was almost a carbon copy of what he saw the Father did. Our God then
certainly does deserve our respect, but what about the other Gods who were not Saviors? How can their only begotten Sons say that they are doing what their
Fathers did? How could they teach anyone else to be a Savior if they have not learned how and proven it through an actual life as a Savior themselves? They could
not. To become a God we must "overcome all things" [Doctrine & Covenants (D&C) 76:60] and "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is
death." (I Cor 15:26) Jesus overcame all things and the last enemy he overcame was death and after many lives it will be our last enemy for
we as yet have not overcome all things for he "only hath immortality." (I Tim 6:16)
How could one possibly overcome all the weaknesses of mortality in one life? Many believe that in some mysterious way we do not understand we will overcome the weaknesses of the flesh in the spirit. But how can this be so? If one did not pay his tithing because he was worried about feeding his family how can he possibly gain the faith necessary to do this in the spirit where he does not have to worry about survival? One can only overcome the things of the flesh IN THE FLESH. It is as Jesus said to his disciples:
"And I will show it plainly as I showed it unto my disciples as I stood before them in the flesh and spake unto them saying: As ye have asked me concerning the signs of my coming, in the day when I shall come in my glory in the clouds Of heaven, to fulfill the promises that I have made unto your fathers. For as ye have looked upon the long absence of your spirits from your bodies to be a bondage, I wil1 show unto you how the day of redemption shall come...." (D&C 45:16-17)
Here Jesus was talking to the disciples during his mortal life and he commented on the apostles grumbling about the hardship of their spirits being separate from
their bodies, obviously in the past. But if their life with Jesus was their first life, when were their spirits ever separated from their bodies and, how did they
know it was a bondage? If their spirits had previously been separated from their bodies then sometime in their past they occupied other bodies. The disciples were
merely complaining about their lack of progress between lifetimes!
The disciples like Abraham had lived numerous lives as shown in the scriptures: "And Joshua said unto the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your father dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time...." (Joshua 24:2) The other side of the flood probably means before the days of the flood of Noah. "And I took ... Abraham FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FLOOD, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan..." (Joshua 24:3) This scripture certainly implies that Abraham lived on the other side of the flood, or before the flood, in a previous lifetime
It is as Joseph Smith said: We progress "from grace to grace and exaltation to exaltation until we attain the resurrection of the dead." (History of the Church Vol. 6:306)
Now the common belief in the church is that we are resurrected and then exalted, but Joseph here states point blank that we must first not only be exalted, but go from exaltation to exaltation before we attain the resurrection.
As we shall see, it is obvious that Joseph believed in reincarnation, but this was one of the doctrines he had to keep secret and teach only with subtle hints except for some close friends as indicated in Orson Whitney's diary:
"During our talks he (Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing unreasonable in it, and could believe it, if it came to him from the Lord or his oracle." (Diary of Orson F. Whitney June 8, 1889)
Joseph Lee Robinson, a contemporary of Joseph Smith wrote:
"We also heard him [Joseph] say that God had revealed unto him that any man who ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the celestial glory and that he [Joseph] felt anxious with regard to himself and he inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph, had never committed adultery. (See D&C 132:41.) This saying of the Prophet astonished me very much. It opened up to me a very wide field of reflection. The idea that we had passed through probation prior to this and that we must have been married and given in marriage in those probations or there would be no propriety in making such an assertion and that there were several exaltations in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, the highest we supposed to be the Godhead and we conclude that there are several grades of exaltations in servants to the Gods. Be this as it may, this is what he said." (The Journal of Joseph Lee Robinson, p.12)
Orson Hyde applied the term "baby resurrection" to the coming reunion with our bodies. By this he meant that instead of obtaining new bodies by raising out of
the grave we will become babies again by coming out of the womb of a female. (From "An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals Of William Clayton," pg 429-430)
Other of the early brethren referred to the resurrection as "multiple moralities" and were open to all possibilities as to how the resurrection will play out.
John Taylor clearly pointed out the need to overcome all things before any final triumph:
"If any man or woman expects to enter into the celestial kingdom of our God without being tested to the very uttermost, they have not understood the gospel. If there is a weak spot in our nature, or if there is a fiber that can be made to quiver or to shrink, we may rest assured that it will be tested." ('The Kingdom Of God Or Nothing,' page 345)
"For everyone shall be salted with fire." (Mark 9:49)
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even AS I ALSO OVERCAME, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (Rev 3:21)
Any reasonable person will admit that in one lifetime it would be impossible to be tested in all things or to overcome as did Jesus.
Clearly, then, we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and eventually live the perfect life:
"And he that overcometh and keepth my works unto the end to him wil1 I give power over the nations ... EVEN AS I RECEIVED OF MY FATHER. (Rev 2:26-27)
"As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you." (John 20:21)
Finally God says:
"Him that over cometh I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, AND HE SHALL GO NO MORE OUT (Shall not have to be reborn) (Rev 3:12)
To show clearly that we only achieve immortality after we achieve the status of the Christ we quote: "For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and
element, inseparably connected, receive fullness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive fullness of joy." (D&C 93:33-34)
Now I will make a statement that is beyond refute: If a fullness of joy is produced by an inseparable connection of the body and spirit then any connection where there is not an eternal connection will not produce a fullness of joy. If a fullness of joy is not produced then the union of spirit and body is temporary.
Where is there not a fullness of joy?
Obviously there is not a fullness of joy in the lower words of the terrestrial and telestial.
So what does this tell us?
That beyond scriptural argument the spirit and body can yet be separated and die in the lower worlds.
Those earmarked for the lower worlds are those who are subject to corruption to some degree. Where there is corruption there is always the disintegration of the form. The scriptures are clear: "Whatsoever temple (body) is defiled, GOD SHALL DESTROY THAT TEMPLE." (D&C 93:35) All those in the lower kingdoms have sinned and defiled their temples so their bodies shall be destroyed. Furthermore I must point out that a Fullness of joy which produces immortality only comes in the presence of God: "In thy presence is fullness of joy." (Psalms 16:11) "They shall inherit the kingdom of God ... and their joy shall be full forever." (2 Nephi 9:18) Finally we see that fullness of joy comes from living a life like the Christ: "And for this cause ye shall have fullness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, EVEN AS THE FATHER HATH GIVEN ME FULLNESS OF JOY; AND YE SHALL BE EVEN AS I AM...." (3 Nephi 28:10)
That there is a resurrection of corruption is plainly set forth by Paul:
"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Often in a future life). For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh REAP CORRUPTION (Greek PHTHORA means decay); but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal 6:7-8)
The doctrine of reincarnation was revealed to Joseph Smith near the end of his life, but instead of calling it reincarnation he called it "eternal lives." (D&C 132:25&55) The church has always assumed that the reason the word "lives" is plural is because more than one individual will achieve eternal life (or the husband and wife together make two eternal lives) but this idea does not coincide with the scripture:
"But if she (Emma) will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless HIM (singular) and multiply him and give unto him an HUNDREDFOLD IN THIS WORLD, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of ETERNAL LIVES IN THE ETERNAL WORLDS." (D&C 132:55)
Here the Lord was definitely speaking to Joseph Smith alone, not including his wife or anyone else and promised him IN THIS WORLD (this earth existence) an
hundredfold of fathers and mothers (whoever heard of having one hundred fathers and mothers?) brothers and sisters, houses (know anyone who lived in one hundred
houses?) lands (How could he live in one hundred countries in one life?), wives and children (Joseph Smith never had one hundred wives and children in this
Remember up to now the scripture deals with "this World" -- not the next. However, the scripture plainly points out that only the last few words refers to the next world: "And crowns of eternal lives (plural) in the eternal worlds (plural). In other words, we will live many lives on many other different earths, worlds far superior to this. Instead of living on a telestial earth like this we will go to terrestrial and celestial worlds made of matter whose atoms vibrate to a purer tone whose nucleus of light shines through unfolded electrons until the bodies shine like the sun where there is no night. The highest glory we may obtain in this telestial earth (where we currently live) is to be "servants of the Most High." (D&C 76:112) All the worlds you see in the sky at night are of a telestial order. The higher worlds are in a light beyond normal vision.
Only in the Celestial and above can there be a fullness of joy where standard excursions into mortality will not be necessary.
-- End Of Chapter 2 --
Index Of Chapters On Eternal Lives
Copyright 2001 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved