There are 11 thoughts on “Degrees of Glory: A Brief History of Heaven and Graded Salvation”.

  1. Nice article. Thank you.

    Regarding the relative paucity of information pertaining to the concept of degrees of glory in the Book of Mormon, I think one passage worth mentioning is Mormon 9:14, in which Moroni frames our post-mortal fate as a tetralemma using the words “filthy,” “righteous,” “happy,” and “unhappy” (an odd order to things in, yes). Paul also frames the final judgment as a tetralemma (again in an odd (but slightly different) order). While it could be argued that these passages are ambiguous or unclear, I believe that they show that these ancient prophets had some understanding of the doctrine at hand even if they never explained it in as much detail as D&C 76.

  2. Jim, thanks for the article. A useful addition for the end of your article could include a letter issued in 1952 by Joseph L. Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency. In response to a member’s question with reference to progression between kingdoms. brother Anderson wrote:

    “Dear Brother,
    The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held 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.

    Sincerely your brother,
    Joseph L. Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency.”

      • I would suggest that President Nelson’s wording in his latest Conference address bears on this discussion:

        “However, your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected, and those with whom you will live forever. . . .
        “This means making the celestial kingdom your eternal goal and then carefully considering where each of your decisions while here on earth will place you in the next world. . . .
        “The Lord has clearly taught that only men and women who are sealed as husband and wife in the temple, and who keep their covenants, will be together throughout the eternities. . . . [part of D&C 132 quoted]
        “Thus, if we unwisely choose to live telestial laws now, we are choosing to be resurrected with a telestial body. We are choosing not to live with our families forever.
        “So, my dear brothers and sisters, how and where and with whom do you want to live forever?”

        These statements, formally interpreting the included scriptural passages for the church, surely indicate the position of our current prophet.
        “The kind of body with which you will be resurrected” and “forever” and “where you will live throughout all eternity” are plain wording to my mind.
        Do we accept and believe this doctrine as the restored church or do we place it in a scholarly bin of statements to simply take note of or compare and contrast?
        Was Pres. Nelson inspired to teach it?
        Can resurrected Telestial bodies be swapped for Terrestrial bodies or Terrestrial bodies for exalted glorified Celestial bodies?
        Or, are resurrected bodies never separated from the spirit again?
        Just some thoughts 🙂

        • Right on Dennis, couldn’t agree with you more.
          In my mind the doctrine is settled: no progression from kingdom-to-kingdom after the resurrection for the reasons you stated and more. For example: Alma & Amulek both clearly taught that there can be no repentance after the resurrection from the dead. See Alma 42:5 & 34:33-34.
          There’s only confusion on this issue because many “do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a [lesser degree of glory]”. (Alma 42:1)

  3. Jim,
    I really enjoyed your article. There were some great insights. Wondered if you had come across David A. Burnett’s work. You might find his “A Neglected Deuteronomic Scriptural Matrix for the Nature of the Resurrection Body in 1 Cor 15:39-42?” and “‘So Shall Your Seed Be’: Paul’s Use of Genesis 15:5 in romans 4:18 in Light of Early Jewish Deification Traditions” extremely insightful and further expanding your article’s focus.

  4. I enjoyed the article. I love D & C 76. What a shame that these glorious truths were lost to apostate Christianity! I have wondered why the Book of Mormon does not discuss the 3 degrees of glory in the detail that D & C 76 does. I have a theory about that – a theory which, I acknowledge, is pure speculation. That speculative theory is as follows:

    Perhaps, the lack of detail in the Book of Mormon about the 3 degrees of glory may be partially due to that most of the Book of Mormon teachings – while universally applicable – are given to members of the church and former members of the church. Thus, for members of the church and former members of the church, there possibly is a kind of heaven or hell, implying that members of the church and former members of the church are judged by a higher standard than are non-members because non-members are NOT violating gospel covenants as disobedient members of the church and former members of the church are. The Book of Mormon often seems to have 2 main groups: covenant keepers and covenant breakers — whereas Joseph Smith lived in a world of mostly non-members. As I said, this theory is pure speculation.

    • Interesting observations, George. A prevailing idea about the BoM emphasis on a binary afterlife may also simply reflect young Joseph’s own Protestant background and understanding while he translated. His revelatory work still required him to frame concepts according to his own language, style, and understanding at the time.

      Appreciate the ideas you have.

    • George, The Book of Mormon doesn’t discuss the three degrees of glory, the premortal life, post-mortal evangelism, eternal marriage/exaltation, etc. because it’s purposely intended not to. Instead, the book is the test of faith one must pass before qualifying to receive a knowledge-and-testimony of those greater doctrines.

      For so says Mormon himself in 3 Nephi 26:9-11. “And when they shall have received this (The Book of Mormon), which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

      “And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.

      “Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.”

      So, those who obtain a witness of The Book of Mormon through faith and unite formerly with the Church, shall then have the greater doctrines manifest unto them in The Doctrine & Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, The Temple, and the living canon i.e. the teachings of the living apostles.

      • Sam, great point! Another way to say what you said, is:

        the Book of Mormon shows us how to live the 4th Article of Faith:
        We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

        Having the Gift of the Holy Ghost – because of the Savior’s atonement – is the key to becoming Christlike by being purified and sanctified by the Holy Ghost through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Becoming Christlike by being purified and sanctified by the Holy Ghost qualifies one to be exalted.

        Thus, the Book of Mormon shows one how to be purified and sanctified by the Holy Ghost and thereby become qualified to obtain exaltation.

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