My Daughter, the Universalist

During sacrament meeting yesterday, I was reading to Caitlyn, our four-year-old, from New Testament Stories, an illustrated scripture-reader which the church first published over twenty years ago. She turned to the story of “The Ten Young Women,” and asked me to read it to her. Which I did: I read about the ten young women, waiting at the door with their lamps burning; I read about the bridegroom who would open the door, but no one knew when; I read about the five women who were wise, and had brought extra oil for their lamps, and the five women who were not wise, and had not. I read how the five wise women refilled their lamps while the other five left to buy more oil when all their lamps burned out; I read how the bridegroom came in the meantime, and invited the five wise women in to the wedding; I read how the other five women came back, found the door closed, and could not go to the wedding.

There was one last panel–a picture of Christ dividing the righteous from the wicked, with an explanation of the foregoing story–but before I could read it, Caitlyn said, “Let me finish.”

I said, “Okay.”

Then she said, “After the other women came back with their oil, the bridegroom came back and opened the door again. Then everybody went to the wedding, and everybody was happy. The end.”

Many Mormons would, of course, consider this a theologically unsound ending, but it is undisputedly an attractive one nonetheless. She said it with innocence, cuteness, but also an assured finality. Universalism never sounded so good.

39 comments for “My Daughter, the Universalist

  1. I see nothing in our doctrine that would contradict her interpretation and some very authoritative statements that support her.$fn=default.htm
    Boyd K. Packer, “Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992, 66.

    We emphasize that the greatest work you will do will be within the walls of your home (see Harold B. Lee, Ensign, July 1973, p. 98), and that “no other success can compensate for failure in the home” (David O. McKay, Improvement Era, June 1964, p. 445).

    The measure of our success as parents, however, will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.

    It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.

    It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled.

    “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, p. 110.)

    We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them. President Brigham Young said:

    “Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., 2:90-91.)

  2. Just an informative note – if you want to copy a link from the church’s website you can NOT copy the link from the address bar because of the use of frames. However there is a way to get a link to the actual article (for Internet Explorer):

    1) Click _Bookmark_ on the top of the article
    2) Click _OK_ to add to your favorites list (if you use this more than once you will need to click _Yes_ to overwrite the last one you did)
    3) Click _Favorites_ on the menu (in IE) then right click _LDS Church Publications (HTML)_ then choose _Properties_ from the popup menu.
    4) Click the tab _Web Document_
    5) Copy and past the text inside the field _URL_ to get the direct article link

    There are other ways to get the URL of an individual document, but this is the easiest way I could find – if anyone else has found a better way PLEASE SHARE.

    For the Packer Article the text is:$fn=default.htm$3.0

    To get the article only (without the table of contents navigation on the left) you leave out the end
    (i.e. the ?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0 part)
    and just paste in

    That is how I got the link below (my name) to go to the article only.

  3. The way I get shortcuts directly to church articles is to right-click on the article link on the menu (either Search Results or the left-side menu) and then select “Copy Shortcut.”

    For example, if you type in the words “Moral Environment” into the search function, a list of articles come up, the first one being Elder Packer’s article.

    At that point, from the list of articles (in the bottom-right quarter of the screen), right-click the title of Elder Packer’s article and select “Copy Shortcut.”

    You’ll get:

  4. Russell,

    I remember as a child being very disappointed with the end of the Book of Mormon. I wanted the Nephites to win, and everyone to be happy.

    Perhaps it’s that children prefer those kinds of endings. I certainly did. I probably still do.

  5. Isn’t the whole point of doing vicarious work for the dead to pave the way for Christ to open the door again? So the women didn’t have the oil the first time. They knew they needed it, they went and got it, and were late. We could read that as being too late in mortality, but not in the eternities, because through temple work the door opens again when the women are there and ready to accept.

    Am I a radical universalist? excellent….

  6. The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.
    (D&C 138:58-59)

  7. In Richard Bushman’s book on Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, he mentions that Joseph Smith’s grandfather was a leading Universalist of his community.

    And a UU friend of mine once told me that he thought that baptism for the dead was one of the most progressive religious ideas in Christendom.

    We may be more Univeralist than we think.

  8. Grasshopper references two verses referring to salvation, and certainly we have a pretty Universalist notion of salvation— in that all but the Sons of Perdition attain to some glory.

    But we are not nearly so Universalist in our doctrine of exaltation— where there is a much stricter standard. As best I can tell, exaltation for the dead is laid out in the following two passages, both of which reference the idea of accepting after this life:

    Terrestrial for those that don’t accept when offered, but later accept—D&C 76:73-76

    “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. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.”

    Celestial for those that would have accepted if offered:—D&C 137:7-8

    “Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;”

    Presumably God is the arbiter of who is on their second chance and who is on their first.

  9. But them mere fact that there are multiple chances, with the consequences of good choices being some level of exaltation, makes our doctrine extremely unique. Does anyone else know of a theology that allows more than one bite at the apple. (Garden of Eden pun intended….)

  10. As for the sealing having the power to save one’s children, President Faust gave a talk last year on this in conference called “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered”. The impression I got was that one should not take Elder Whitney’s paraphrase of Joseph Smith so far as to deny individual accountability. President Faust mentions both the prodigal son, and the verse quoted by Grasshopper in D&C 138. He then says:

    “Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy…That judgment must also be left up to the Lord. He tells us, ‘I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.’”

  11. Don’t worry about them there grammatical errors, Karen. We is all able to make mistakes.

    Aaron B

  12. Another option is to right-click on the page and select “Properties” in IE or “View Page Info” in NN. Both methods will bring up a URL that can be selected.

  13. Hm…I relate to the happy stories. I’ve always wanted to see Romeo & Juliet done in a way that let’s everyone be happy & only the bad folks get hurt. oh well…i’m tolde it won’t happen cuz ‘twould be boring.

  14. Juliann,

    Thanks for sharing Pres. Packer’s talk. Even though I’m sure I have read it and heard it before, somehow I had forgotten it. Reading it again caused a well of emotions to come to the surface. Thanks.

    I think a key issue that is involved here is *knowledge*:

    1. Most of those we call the “wicked” are, in the eyes of God, like little children in understanding, not realizing that what they are doing is so wrong, and/or not knowing how to escape if they do. These are the “spritual prisoners” Pres. Packer refers to.

    2. On an earlier post here at T&S, I shared a statement a General Authority made to us while I was on my mission, to the effect that one cannot be said to have had a “chance” for exaltation in this life, unless one has the Gospel actually preached to you, by one having authority, and one feels the power of the Holy Ghost bearing witness that it is true and one recognizes what that is. By this definition, the vast, vast majority of the human race have not really had a chance, and so will be saved in the hereafter, and I do mean exalted.

    3. Satan has power of the human race because he possesses knowledge they do not. God simply will not judge those who do not know what they need to know.

    4. We cannot assume that children who fall away in the Church have a testimony, can we? Is it possible for a young man or woman to go through Primary, Scouting, YM/YW, etc., and never gain a testimony, maybe even never feel the Spriit? Sure it is. And if they then go inactive, and spend their whole lives inactive, when and how would they learn the folly of their ways? To me, Elder Whitney’s statement applies here; God has not forgotten them, and at a suitable time, often not until Paradise, He will feel after them, teach them anew, in an environment where they can learn without distractions, and can then be exalted.

    5. The key, then, to “blow it” as far as losing exaltation, is to either get a testimony in this life and utterly refuse to live up to it (even here I don’t want to seem dogmatic; what happens to a young man with a testimony who falls into alcoholism or drug abuse, who wants to repent but can’t break free from the addiction? I won’t be the one to write such a person off), and/or refuse to teach your children what is right. This latter sin in some ways seems to be less forgiveable than the first.

    6. A number of G.A.’s, including Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, have stated their belief that the vast majority of the human race will be exalted. This isn’t universalism, but it’s close. No wonder we’re told “judge not”!! It appears the only people who won’t make are just those who plain don’t want to.

  15. The 1929 sermon by Orson F. Whitney almost certainly should rank among the most poorly worded discourses in LDS history. Suppose you have a son, a man after the Lord’s own heart, but by and by he becomes lifted up in pride, rebels against God, and ends his life in a series of adulteries?

    Can such a man be saved? Yes. David committed worse sins, and his soul will not be left in hell (Acts 2:27).

    But can such a man be exalted? David will not, for reasons documented in D&C 132:39. However, the door seems open for most, on condition of repentance.

    The idea that anyone will ever be saved (let alone exalted) without repentance is a cardinal heresy. All are saved on the same principles – justification by faith, and sanctification through obedience to law (See D&C 88:34-35).

    The Lord cannot and will not save the disobedient – no one will ever be saved in any degree of glory until he or she consents to obey the law of the same. Wilford Woodruff taught as much (See JD 17:244).

  16. Gordon, Would you please supply references in regard to Smith and McConkie’s view on eventual exaltation?

    It seems to me, that at least as a matter of dynamic equilibrium, the telestial glory will always have innumerably more denizens than the celestial (cf D&C 76:109). While allowing for the possibility of progression from one glory to the next, there does not appear to be any doctrinal basis for the idea that this is the rule, rather than the exception.

  17. “Does anyone else know of a theology that allows more than one bite at the apple.”


    It isn’t exactly a *theo*logy, but Buddhism teaches an analogous principle.

  18. Juliann,

    Joseph Fielding Smith immediately follows the quotation of Brigham Young you have supplied with the following clarification:

    “All children born under the covenant belong to their parents in eternity, but that does not mean that they, because of their birthright, will inherit celestial glory. The faithfulness of fathers and mothers will not save disobedient children. Salvation is an individual matter, and if a person who has been born under the covenant rebels, and denies the Lord, he will lose the blessings of exaltation. Every soul will be judged according to his works and the wicked cannot inherit eternal life. We cannot force salvation upon those who do not want it.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:90).

    I might add, that Joseph Fielding Smith is almost certainly the best theologian and Brigham Young the worst, among the Presidents of the Church. The problem with Brigham Young is it is difficult to distinguish his speculations from his revelations. All sorts of intriguing stuff, but wildly uneven.

  19. Mark Butler,

    I assume you meant “Gary”, and not “Gordon” in your request for confirmation of the McConkie/Smith view. It was in a talk that McConkie gave many years ago. As best I can recollect, Bro. McConkie stated that he once had a conversation with his father-in-law, Joseph Fielding Smith, in which the latter stated that, in his opinion, a majority, maybe 60-70% of God’s children would eventually be exalted. Bro. McConkie then stated that, since that time, he had come to the opinion that Pres. Smith was wrong; that in fact the figure would be much, much higher, maybe 95%. That, “the Lord will somehow find a way to bring them home.” Now, I may need help from some of the folks here at T&S who may be more knowledgeable than me of how to look such talks up. I’ll do my best.

    Even if I had not seen that talk, though, I would still believe the principle that most would be exalted. It’s really elementary deduction: If little children who die before the age of 8 are saved, that alone includes the vast majority of all the humans who will ever live (think of historically high infant/child mortality rates in previous centuries). Then we add in those people who, through mental retardation, never reach emotional adulthood. Finally, we add those who never heard the Gospel at all in this life, through no fault of their own.

    Now, I agree with you that it is a heresy that to believe that salvation can come without repentence. Bruce R. McConkie himself addressed “second-chance” theories and “progression between kingdoms” and “sealed in the temple, always saved” as heresies. I beleive that Elder Whitney’s statement could only be understood to mean that children who rebel early in life, never get a testimony, and never get it right later on, will get an opporutunity to feel the Holy Ghost and gain a testimony and have an opportunity to respond to that testimony by repepnting. If not in this life, then in the next. That’s not a “second chance”—remember I mentioned that the Seventy who spoke in my mission made clear it is *not* the fact one has heard the message of the Gospel that constitutes a “chance” for exaltation, but that *plus* receiving the witness of the Holy Ghost and recognizing it. He said this specifically in reference to us as missionaries being careful not to “write off” people who slam doors on us or refuse to be baptized or our wayward family members and friends.

    Now with regard to the size of the telestial kingdom, it will have a lot of people, as per the D7C reference, but in that same D7C 76 it refers to the Celestial Kingdom as also having an innumerable number of people. When one thinks of the tens of billions of human beings who have ever lived or will yet lived, it makes sense the kingdoms will have a lot of members, but it doesn’t tell us, by itself, which would have the most, IMHO.

  20. Gary,

    How should I think about the following passage, according to the “~95% saved” view?

    “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (New Testament | Matthew 7:14)

    Viewing life as a difficult road where many will not get to the highest reward seems to me to be more representative of the scriptures than a view where practically everyone is exalted. In such a Universal exaltation view, practically all the filtering was done in the pre-existence when Lucifer took the spirits that followed him. Keeping one’s second estate is practically a shoe-in. Do you find that difficult to reconcile with the scriptures or do is that the message you get when reading them?

  21. Given this ~95% view and a warped mind, it seems that high infant mortality rates were the best thing going for God’s work and glory. Is modern medicine really inspired by Satan?? ;)

  22. Searching the LDS magazines for the last 30 years, I could find no mentions of “Fielding” and “exaltation” in a talk by Elder McConkie that sounded like the claimed quote. Which does not mean he didn’t say it, just that it may take some work (or cleverness) to find the quote.

  23. Matt J,

    I have a warped mind too, so don’t think it hasn’t occured to me that, following what I have been saying to its logical conclusion, we’re worse off now that our children live to adulthood! (Big grin)

    Frank McIntyre,

    Yep, I was afraid it might not be easy to find that quote. I’ll do my best on my end.

    Mark Butler,

    I’ve thought about the “few there be that find it” scripture a lot. I look at who the Savior was speaking to. The crowd of people who spoke those words to were predominantly Israelites. They had the Gospel, some of it, at least, and He was come to give them the Fulness. There were other paths they could follow—Phariseeism, Saduceeism, the Herodians, the Zealots, the Essenes, or they could just ignore it all and go about their business. Following Christ would mean persecution, even death, but eventual exaltation. Following the other paths would be easier, but would lead to Hell. These people, in other words, *would* be judged, as they were hearing the Gospel, and would feel the Holy Ghost (especially after Pentecost). I don’t think we can automatically apply those words to headhunters in New Guinea in 1800 or Eskimos in Saskatchewan in 1654, etc. In fact, the Savior Himself on one occasion stated that, had He performed the same miracles the Jews saw Him do in the pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon, the latter would have repented and turned to Him. So, why didn’t he do that? Because the pagans wouldn’t crucify their own God! But the members of the Church, the House of Israel, would…

    Life *is* a difficult road. Those who never had a chance for the Gospel in this life but have it preached to them in Paradise must still repent in just as full a sense as anyone else. I imagine it will be harder and take more time for such folks, as they have even more to learn than those of us with the Gospel already in mortality, but I have confidence they’ll make it, given the perspective of Paradise. I’ve brought this up before on other posts here at T&S, but thinking this through, is it possible (just for grins) that the Gospel *isn’t* about saving the “little people” (cause they’re gonna make it, as they’re humble and God’s accounted for them)—maybe its all about saving the proud—maybe God’s up in Heaven saying, “Goodness gracious! What am I going to do with the “beautiful people”? No matter what I do, they’re so proud and stiff-necked! Their only hope is for me to give them the Gospel in mortality, so maybe it’ll temper all the pride they’vew got from being so smart and educated and “better” than everyone else.” In other words, is it a “curse” to be a member of the Church, to be so much more accountable? You mentioned the millions of folks in the telestial kingdom. Hmmm….weren’t millions of apostate Nephites (immoral, proud, murderous, but knowing the Gospel full well) killed at Cumorah? Anf millions of Jaredites (in the same condition as the Nephites) earlier? Hmmm…maybe the telestial kingdom will have a lot of Church members there…

  24. My apologies, Gary. It is sound doctrine that nearly all will eventually be saved, through willing submission to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, whether telestial, terrestrial, or celestial.

    However, the idea that nearly all will be exalted is much harder to establish. Those who die without a knowledge of the gospel will have the opportunity to receive it in the spirit world. However, we have little reason to believe that it is easier to develop celestial discipline there than here. Indeed, some authorities have suggested that it is harder.

    Exaltation requires a level of consecration that is rare among the members of the Church, and even rarer among the house of Israel. Those who are exalted will have to submit to a celestial law, and apparently a very great many, in and out of the Church, will be content to follow the requirements of a lesser degree of glory.

  25. Mark,

    I can agree with that, especially if we limit that statement to all those who reach the age of accountability. The Scriptures are pretty plain, and modern prophets as well, that little children who die as children will be exalted, and since that’s the majority of the human race, maybe we could state it this way:

    1. Those who die as little children will be exalted, eventually. This makes up most of the human race, hence most of the human race will be exalted.

    2. Those who reach the age of accountability are a different story. Each such individual will be judged according to the light and knowledge that they had in mortality. This could mean that most such people would be exalted eventually, given their lack of knowledge in mortality (my view). It could also mean that most of them may, even in paradise, choose to only obey the requirements of the lesser kingdoms (Mark’s view?).

    3. No matter what, God is just, He is merciful, and He will give EVERYONE some opportunity to choose or reject the opportunity for exaltation.

    Fair enough?

  26. Gary, I should clarify that my personal view is that the telestial, terrestial, and celestial glories are all part of the kingdom of heaven, filled with righteous, wonderful people who are truly sanctified by degree. That what we tend to think of as the difference between the three degrees within the celestial kingdom is actually a much better model for the distinction between the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial glories.

    Brigham Young taught that all the heirs of the telestial glory will be baptized:

    “I will now tell you something that ought to comfort every man and woman on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith, junior, will again be on this earth dictating plans and calling forth his brethren to be baptized for the very characters who wish this was not so, in order to bring them into a kingdom to enjoy, perhaps, the presence of angels or the spirits of good men, if they cannot endure the presence of the Father and the Son; and he will never cease his operations, under the directions of the Son of God, until the last ones of the children of men are saved that can be, from Adam till now.” (Brigham Young, [JD 7:289])

    Though some authorities differ, the scriptural evidence militates strongly in favor of Brigham Young on this matter.

  27. Gary, I’m right with you in your opinions. First, let me say what I *believe* and then I’ll say what I accept as evidence. I believe that being a “god” is a job not a reward. From what I can see, godhood is being expected to be the janitor of the universe. I can imagine a good many people simply saying “no thanks” without that being a reflection on their character. Such a heaven would not be glorious to them. Our supreme emphasis on service and family indicates to me that this is what it really is all about. My philosophy is that a just and loving God would not put a parrot at the North Pole and a penguin at the equator and say “now have a nice eternity!”. Different strokes for different folk.

    What got me to thinking about this was the persistence of these sorts of statements from prophet after prophet and the regularity with which this sort of assurance pops up in scripture–across our canon. Once I was able to silence the “but” and “if” that we seem to train ourselves to attach to each and every promise, it literally jumped out at me. The only statement I have found that limits exaltation is from Joseph Fielding Smith. He is quite outnumbered.

    I also felt a logical disconnect in a belief that all of our perfected souls were dying as children. Or were they? Could it be that those children could live and still remain in that state? Why would God kill off his best and brightest and leave the dolts to conduct his business?

    Why does this matter to me? Because once I was able to cast aside the “I’m not worthy” drumbeat, I was able to stop thinking only of myself and begin to reach out to discover a purpose in life. Just a *tiny* sampling of verses:

    I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions; Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. (D&C 101:2-3)

    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself . . . (Eph 1:4-5)

    Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father . . . to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith. (1 Peter 1:2-5)

    I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me: for they are thine. . . those thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdidtion; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:9-12)

    Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost. (D&C 50:41-42)

    My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall many man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10: 27-30)

    They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things . . . Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God–Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life of death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. And they **shall** overcome all things . . .These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. (D&C 76:54-62)

    And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Lev 25:10)

  28. Juliann,

    These verses are all excellent, but how do they show almost unanimous exaltation? Clearly those that are Christ’s are exalted, since that is how we define who is Christ’s. But what is the criteria for being one of His?

    Gary wants to isolate the Sermon on the Mount quote to that time and place– the Jews at the time of Christ. But it is the same sermon given to the Nephites, so surely it applies to them as well. Further, there are a billion Christians on earth right now that know far more about Christianity than the Jews in Galilee in 30 AD— so why wouldn’t this apply to them?

  29. I should be clearer, in my last post I am referring to Jews in Galilee that had no interaction with Christ, not the ones at his feet during, for example, the Sermon on the Mount.

  30. Frank, those verses alone don’t mean anything, of course. No verse does, really. I can’t begin to explain how I put this together on a message board format and I wouldn’t anyway since much of it is personal. We probably have a different premise. I don’t think that everyone *wants* to be a god. I do not think we will all be “exalted”. But I think that it will be more of a self-conscious choice than a punishment and I don’t think that we should consider anyone a lesser form of humanity because they find joy in different things than we do. I may decide to opt out on godhood when I have a fuller picture. Who knows? But I do believe that if I *want* it, it’s mine.

    I’m not sure what you are referring to with the Sermon on the Mount…was that a different thread?

  31. If a person wants to be exalted badly enough, enough to observe their covenants by sacrifice, whatever sacrifice the Lord commands, the Lord is bound to exalt them in process of time (cf. D&C 97:8-9, D&C 132:5, D&C 82:10).

    “For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto exaltation and continuation of lives, and few there be that find it, because ye recieve me not in the world, neither do ye know me.” (Word of the Lord unto Joseph Smith, July 12, 1843, D&C 132:22).

  32. Sermon on the Mount quote is the same as MArk just quoted from D&C 132– “…and few there be that find it”. Gary, earlier in the thread, worked to give that verse a limited. local, interpretation.

    The idea that some will not wish to be like God is fine in the sense that many will be unwilling to be righteous. But this does not seem to be the argument, rather you are claiming that a perfect man or woman would prefer to not be like God, because they’re just not into that whole Creation thing or don’t want to be the janitor. I find this notion to be peculiar and nonscriptural. It makes much more sense that happiness is intrinsically found in that which God does, and I see nothing in the scriptures to support “different strokes for different folks” for those wishing to be exalted.

    D&C 76 lays out the Celestial kingdom and who resides there, it is true that one can choose a lesser kingdom, but this is a failing in that the person loves the light insufficiently. It isn’t just another equally good path. Those of the Celestial kingdom are “joint heirs” with Christ, and of them, D&C 76 says

    “Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—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. And they shall overcome all things.”

    and then,

    “70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.”

    Now we know that the glory of God is to bring about Eternal Life for His children, this scripture says our glory will be as His. Godhood is intrinsic to Celestial Glory.

  33. Frank, the problem I have with the one-size fits all approach to exaltation is that it seems to me to be inconsistent with free will. As for the SM/SP verses about the narrow door/gate, the usual interpretation of that has been contradicted by prophets (quotes given above by others) who express that more than a few will be exalted.

    As for an exegesis of Matt 7:14/Luke 13:23, I can see giving a local flavor to it in the sense that one can argue whether the emphasis on the verse is on finding the door or getting through the door. That probably goes back to the social customs of the day and who was recognized. Opening the door relates to status. (I still can’t find the original reference to it on this thread so I’ll just ramble off into my own direction…)

    The door imagery certainly ties in with the problem of the virgins. In Luke we have the door being shut as well…the master is in control.

    I would emphasize “the way” over the “door/gate”. This goes back to the “the two ways” of early writings (Didache)and back to free will. Finding the way involves persistence. This is certainly a foundational concept in Mormonism. The rigors we find on that way are part of the journey. Will the Lord then recognize us simply because “we ate and drank” with him? This implies an appeal to table fellowship, i.e., social status. But we need to be known by where we are *from* as well, e.g., Jesus *of Nazereth*, to be recognized. Anyway…this can be tied together but not on a message board.

    And although gate is a variant, I’ll betcha Kevin Christensen/Margaret Barkers’s temple theology could be pulled in as gate is a temple reference. And that presents an entirely new realm of exploration.

  34. Whatever interpretation is given Matt 7:14, it should probably be able to fit the 3 contexts in which it is used— In the Sermon on the Mount, again to the Nephites, and then again in the Doctrine and Covenants. The D&C version includes no door, so perhaps evades the issues you wish to raise about finding doors:

    “For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto exaltation and continuation of lives, and few there be that find it, because ye recieve me not in the world, neither do ye know me.” (D&C 132:22).

    You say the “common” interpretation is contradicted by prophets and others. Gary recalled hearing a quote by Joseph Fielding Smith which was affirmed by Elder McConkie. I have seen no other prophetic statement suggesting virtually universal exaltation. The actual quote referred to is still missing in action, so it probably isn’t a good idea to try to make it do all the heavy lifting when we don’t know what it said nor the context.

    You think tying exaltation to Godhood contradicts free will. That could be the case if one could become perfect like God in every respect, yet still prefer not to be a Creator. But this is exactly the point I protest. Everyone that reaches that level of understanding will understand as God does the importance of Creation. They will then want, of their own free will, the same thing He wants, which is to bring about the Eternal Life of His children. Thus no one is forced to Godhood, but to be perfect involves a desire to want to serve others in that way; there is no contradiction to free will, and so no reason to question the plain meaning of D&C 76.

  35. Frank, you say, “The D&C version includes no door, so perhaps evades the issues you wish to raise about finding doors:”


    The D&C version uses the variant “gate”, perhaps a strong indication that we should be looking for temple context (knocking to gain entry). With the BOM, we are now 3 for 3. As usual, the BOM account gives a more intelligible rendering. In this one the elusive householder at the door is the Lord. The control has shifted. He will open if you knock. And this pericope solves the questions of the SM. Since my background is in NT I always go there first…big mistake. Now we know that it is the way we are to find not the door. In fact, it appears that the door is quite visible to all. But even when they are there not all will knock. Knocking does not seem very daunting considering that they have already negotiated the treacherous path. Even at the end here, which surely must be the end because the Lord himself is there, a chance is given to these people to cast aside their error. If I were to use any prooftext for my take on this issue, this would be the one. (verses given below)

    When you say that “Everyone that reaches that level of understanding will understand as God does the importance of Creation.” my response would be the example of Satan. He was in competition with Christ, whom we do consider to have reached that level of understanding. Yet Satan used free will to do the opposite despite understanding. In fact, don’t we have a category called Sons of Perdition for those who do not “. . . want, of their own free will, the same thing He wants, which is to bring about the Eternal Life of His children. “? Without examples like these, we really would have no basis on which to claim free will as a reality.

    Thank you for dialoguing with me, Frank. I’ve learned something. I’m not going to argue about my personal opinion, however, this is just one way of looking at things that I thought I would throw into the ring. I have no need to convince anyone. It satisfies my soul and that is enough for me. I was lazy to not give documentation for statements I recall about the many who will be exalted. Perhaps my recollections are in error.

    2 Nephi 9:41. O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

    42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches–yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

  36. [Restoring Comment Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Juliann, it sounds like you are done with the discussion, which is fine. Let me clarify for posterity my statement about free will. By “reaches that level of understanding” I am referring to those made perfect and exalted, not those who intellectually comprehend the plan, such as the Sons of Perdition. My phrasing was poor.

    Comment by: Frank McIntyre at May 12, 2004 01:53 PM

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