Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation

EloheimEternalLivesI am strongly opposed to the idea of past lives or reincarnation. I have always considered it a false and pernicious doctrine that leads one to do less than their best in this life, thinking they will always have another chance to get it right in the next life. Some people have said that the church teaches this doctrine and that it is called Eternal Lives (plural). I disagree, believe that most LDS believe as I do, that Eternal Lives means eternal increase and would like to address that in this position paper.

Associated with Adam-God Theory

By way of background I’ve written a little about this before in an essay where I reviewed a book entitled “Teachings of The Doctrine of Eternal Lives.” For some reason, this subject seems to be related to discussions of the Adam-God theory, which I have also written about previously. My position hasn’t changed even though I’ve had many people engage me in private dialog on the subject. They come up with all kinds of weird spins on what we are taught in the temple.

Adam and Eve Immortal at Birth

I remained convinced that Adam was born an immortal child of God our father and his heavenly mother. Eve was also an immortal child of those same resurrected beings. Jesus Christ did not have a mortal experience until he was born unto Mary. What he put aside was not an immortal and exalted body but simply his status as the most intelligent and most advanced of all of Heavenly Father’s children.

No reintroduction of the Veil

I do not believe we have more than one opportunity to pass though mortality. The same applied to God and to Jesus Christ. There was no “reintroduction of the veil” to God, to Christ, to Adam or to any mortal being ever born on this earth. Elohim does indeed mean Gods – plural – which is in line with what I believe that many of us were Gods – and still are. The veil of our mortal bodies simply hides that fact from us for a season.

Definition of the Fathers

The Fathers, in my opinion, are those early patriarchal prophets who have been resurrected and await our joining them when we finish our mortal probation. We are to be like them and to be sealed unto them with the sealing power that can only come from the voice of the Lord. None of them has ever entered the womb again. That simply cannot and does not happen. They are resurrected and exalted beings now. We would do well to emulate their examples in following Christ.

God only Experienced Mortality Once

I do not believe Gods experience mortality more than once. I have re-read the accounts of the King Follett discourse several times. I simply do not see that Joseph taught that doctrine. Jesus helped to frame the worlds under the direction of our Father by virtue of his position as the most intelligent, the most obedient and the most advanced of all our Heavenly Father’s children. He was assisted by Michael, who was to become the first mortal of this earth – Adam.

No Immortal [Exalted Being] Can Become Mortal

I disagree that our Heavenly Father and Mother became mortal again after they were immortal [and exalted]. Sorry. That’s a false doctrine. Yes, it’s true that came to they earth and ate of the fruit of this world. Adam and Eve were born to them here upon this world as immortal beings, from immortal parents. Adam was created of the dust of this earth in the sense that his parents ate of the fruit of this world when he was conceived. They had already had countless spirit children, but Adam and Eve were the first immortal children they brought forth on this world. This was not the first time they had done this. They had brought forth immortal children on countless other worlds before this one.

Immortal Beings Bear Immortal Children

Again, there is never, was never, will never be a time when the veil is reintroduced to an immortal and exalted being. The mortal body is the veil. An immortal [exalted] being will not become a mortal being for any reason. Not even Jesus did this. Yes, he was a God before he was born because he had obtained all knowledge available to him before mortality. But he was not an exalted being. That requires immortality. Immortal beings cannot bring forth mortal children (*See excellent comment from Donald below). Adam and Eve were immortal [but not exalted] until they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then became mortal.

Update 4-10-13: I added the words in brackets above

No Past-Life Mortal Experiences

We establish ourselves as valiant in the pre-mortal life by our obedience to the commandments there and our faithfulness to the performance of assigned duty. There are no past-life mortal experiences to be remembered or relied upon as a source of growth or experience. Past-lives is a false doctrine explained by the presence of spirits who have attached themselves to us, which can be easily detected by those with spiritual insight or priesthood keys of discernment. This is clearly taught in books by Mel Fish and Doug Mendenhall.

Pre-Mortal Life is as a Spirit

Adam did not choose to become mortal again. He chose be born as an immortal child of Heavenly Parents and then chose to become mortal just as we are taught. I have never had a mortal life before my present time on earth. I learned and grew in a pre-mortal life in the presence of my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. I am fairly certain I had some say about the timing of my birth into this world. Like Adam, I am searching for authorized messengers to teach me more. Up to this point I have accepted what I have been taught by prophets in scripture. But I know there is more that can only be received from heavenly messengers or from Christ.

We do not Cycle Through Mortality

I disagree with many on the interpretation of what Joseph taught in the last few months of his life and which Brigham tried to systematize in the endowment. I have studied many interpretations of others on what Joseph and Brigham taught. I have considered many versions of Adam-God theories from numerous individuals who have shared them with me. I simply have never found anything better than Elden Watson’s great summary. It is settled in my mind and has been for many years. I have yet to find anything that can convince me that we will ever become mortal again. That is not what eternal lives means.

Share Greater Light and Knowledge

This is my position paper. If I am wrong, show me where. Provide me with further light and knowledge. Point out my flaws in logic. Let me know where I have misunderstood prophets. I’ve shared this position many times over the years and most everyone has agreed that this is an orthodox understanding of what we as a church believe about the purpose of life and mortality. If you want to know more about the source of the idea of past-lives, let me know and I’ll be happy to share. Past-lives is not a doctrine that originated with God, but it can be explained. If you're interested, I can add that in the comments.

Comments

Blake said…
My problem with reincarnation is based on two considerations -- one philosophical/logical and the second scriptural. First, I have no idea what it could mean to that "I" am reincarnated when there is nothing to identify this new and different person with "me." The person born after me who is supposedly a reincarnation of "me" does not have my body, my memories, my personality, my family, my life or what I learned. How could there be any point of contact to suggest that this new person is somehow "me"? It seems to me that the very notion of reincarnation is incoherent and meaningless. There are no criteria of personal identity that it could satisfy that would be logically meaningful to say that this new person is the same as the one I was before. No, it entails that there are two distinct personal identities and identifying them as a single individual is vacuous of any coherent meaning.

The second consideration is Alma 11:45: "Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption."

The notion of reincarnation requires that this verse is untrue -- our bodies will not be joined to the spirit again "never to be divided" and it is not true that "they can die no more" if reincarnation is true. If Alma 40:11 reveals the truth, then reincarnation is false.
Well said Tim. Nothing I disagree with in your position paper.
Rob said…
The devil corrupts every truth. He offers crystal balls for seer stones; he offers trinity for unity of Gods, he offers magic and witchcraft for priesthood; false robes of the priesthood (university graduation regalia) for true priesthood robes; soothsayers for prophets; false astrology for astronomy which does offer true signs and testimony; and he offers reincarnation for multiple estates of mortality and probation/doctrine of eternal lives. There is a difference between what the devil teaches to confuse and what is true.

If the Spirit doesn't teach the truth of the doctrine of eternal lives to you and it seems too much like reincarnation, the devil's counterfeit, then perhaps you don't understand the truth yet. This is probably best. It's a sacred doctrine that the Lord Himself should teach you in time.
tmalonemcse said…
I'm open to it Rob. I know my position paper is a little forcefully stated. It came in response to another reader in a private dialog. That's why I put it up here - because I feel strongly about it. The problem is that I probably don't understand the doctrine of Eternal Lives as you and Bruce do. I've read the book, I studied it off and on for about a year. So far, I can't get past my orthodox Mormon upbringing which always equated Eternal Lives with Eternal increase - the ability to have children after the resurrection - both spirit children and immortal children. I appreciate your comment that it's a sacred doctrine that should be taught directly by the Lord. Until that day arrives, I just wanted to publish what my natural mind can comprehend today.
tmalonemcse said…
And because I referred to it in the essay, I thought I would share how it’s possible that someone can, under hypnosis, tell you all kinds of things about their past lives (I’ve been reading Remarkable Healings by Shakuntala Modi and The Unquiet Dead by Dr. Edith Fiore). I encountered similar stuff in the writings of Dr. Fish but he didn’t use hypnosis. Of course this is just my opinion. Yours is just as valid.

I have long believed that we can acquire spirit attachments. That is a nice way of saying mild possession. I don’t know how the mechanics work – if the spirits just kind of hang around or they actually co-habit our bodies. As I’ve noted several times on my blog, there are two kinds: 1) those who have never had a body and never will and 2) those who have died but won’t move on in the spirit world.

Dr. Modi and Dr. Fiori both document in their books how these spirit attachments reveal themselves when the patient is under hypnosis. I’ve never wanted to go under hypnosis because of the feeling of being out of control. And yet, I allowed myself to be anesthetized last year when I had a colonoscopy. I wonder if any LDS counselors or psychologists use hypnotherapy. Even Bruce R wrote that was OK.

In any event, it is my opinion that past lives is a real thing in that they refer to the past lives of the spirits that may be attached, hanging around or co-habiting you. Of course these would be those that have died and haven’t moved on. That brings up the question or makes me wonder if maybe an evil spirit could be impersonating one of those spirits who hasn’t moved on. Has anybody studied this in any detail?

But just to be clear, the past lives are not your past lives. In other words, it’s not like Shirley MacLaine tells it in her books and many of her movies. I stand by what I wrote in my essay. Until and unless the Lord teaches me otherwise, we do not live multiple mortal probations. The past lives that can be detected in hypnosis are the past lives of the spirits who are attached or are hanging around with you.

Have you ever wondered how a psychic or palm reader can tell you things about you that nobody else could possibly know? It’s because of those spirits that hang around you. They are more than willing to tell the “familiar spirit” of the psychic things that only someone who has been watching you for many years can know. I know it sounds creepy, but to me it explains how physics can do what they do.
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks Steven. And thanks for the link back to your writings. I always like it when readers are willing to let others read more about them, their past writings and where they stand on things. Helps to feel more connected and have an intelligent conversation.
Steve said…
I am not taking a position here. I like the scripture reference, but don't really follow your logic in your first point. Following your same logic in the standard LDS model, how could there be any continuity of identity from the premortal state to a mortal state? Do you really think there is nothing that connects or preserves the fundamental identity from one state to the next? If you do think there is, why would it be any different in a reincarnation model? (unless you for some reason are supposing no existence of soul in a reincarnation model)
CCM said…
I keep thinking about this statement......

Really? How can you be a god and understand the suffering of your children on an earth if you yourself have never suffered? You never even had a toothache…or a fever…or even the sniffles. So how can you be this compassionate and understanding god if you’ve never experienced it for yourself?

How did Christ work out the atonement? He didn't experience a lot of things I've experienced. Yet somehow through His earthly experience and the experience in the Garden of Gethsemene He understands all earthly experiences perfectly. And if we can become joint-heirs of ALL He has, couldn't that include His unique and perfect understanding?
tmalonemcse said…
Bruce, I'm still pondering your comment, but reading CCM's response triggered this thought, well, actually this link to an earlier essay I wrote on what really happened in the Garden of Gethsemane that night:

http://latterdaycommentary.com/2008/05/10/the-atonement-of-jesus-christ/

It answers for me how it is possible that Christ could understand everything we went through even though he did not deserve any of the pain, suffering and sorrow we've tasted in a small part. Hope it helps.
Matthew said…
Exploring this a little via comments from others in support of the concept, I find it both difficult to dismiss or embrace. When I find myself embracing it, it really alters my perception of my life and others' lives. It also potentially explains how Christ was qualified to do everything that he did. It also seems to eliminate any feelings of inferiority or superiority to other souls (which seems rather Christ like). At the same time, it's so altering to my understanding of mortality that it's pretty disorienting. I will have to ponder this further and of course ultimately ask for further understanding from God. Although, I don't know if it's something that I need to know at this point.

I was curious if D. Snuffer ever touched on the subject, and the only thing I could find was this post: http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2011/04/about-eternal-lives.html . I'm not sure what to even read into the fact that he essentially posted an advertisement for a book on the topic, but offered no commentary.
Donald said…
"Immortal beings cannot bring forth mortal children." I wondered if you thought an immortal being could have a child with a mortal being?

I'm also curious to know what you think of these verses in Sec. 132:

24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

"The deathS"......I'm not sure what to make of that
tmalonemcse said…
What an awesome comment, Donald. That adds so much. Of course we believe (at least I do) that an immortal being fathered a child with a female mortal being. The resultant child was both mortal and immortal. This is obviously referring to the Savior. I did not think about that as I was writing my position statement. Your point is that important I almost feel like I need to go back and add it in there.

My interpretation of liveS has always been the ability to procreate after the resurrection and upon receiving exaltation. I also am not sure what to think of deathS unless it means the tragic sense of loss over what might have been. If you or somebody else knows more, teach me.
latterdayseeker said…
Tim,

Snuffer does take on this topic and he, in his usual non-committal way, seems to be endorsing the idea. He poses leading questions without actually giving an answer, but you can tell from the nature of the questions what he is implying.

He gave a talk called "The First Three Words" about the first three words of the endowment. You can get it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/88629102/First-Three-Words-Denver-Snuffer
Donald said…
I've thought the same thing about liveS and deathS. I'm not sure either way about MMP.....I sense some of the same paradoxes you suggest in your blog...yet I don't yet know.....so I leave it on the back burner. Meanwhile, do you suppose it may be possible for a mortal man to have a child with an immortal woman? I'm not aware of any hints in the scriptures.....just wondering out loud. Thank you for your blog...I appreciate it.

Kind regards
:)
tmalonemcse said…
For Latterdayseeker: Thanks I've read it once. Reading it again today (42 pages). Here's a better link. The other one stopped after page 4: http://www.scribd.com/doc/75128804/1st3Words-1

Update: OK, I went back and read the whole thing. Although this is grossly unfair to Denver and to any who have not read the piece, here is his summary at the end. Nowhere in the talk did I see any allusions to going back and living again. Sorry, this one mortal life is all you get.

First, there are those who were identified as “the Gods” before the world was organized.

Second, there were those for whom this world was designed to be a time of “proving” and testing who were not identified as “the Gods” before the world was organized.

Third, Joseph regarded those who were identified as “the Gods” to be “sons of God who exalted themselves to be gods before the world was made.”

Fourth, you cannot know the group to which you belong because there is a veil between all of us and the pre-earth existence. The risks of mortality, however, are the same for all who are here. The way back is the same no matter which group you belong to, and either can fall from their exaltation or can acquire their exaltation, depending entirely upon the kind of life they live here.

Fifth, only the Lord knows and can tell you of your pre-earth status. If you learn of that it will be only through revelation.

Sixth, nothing about this changes the risks of mortality or the obligations we owe to God while here. It should not change in any way the life you live. It may let you understand things differently, may give you more hope for things, or a deeper appreciation for some ideas, but it should not change how you understand your obligation to live your life. I am hoping, however, that it gives you a new way to view the endowment and how much more we can see within it with a little effort to open our eyes, and follow the admonition from Elohim, to “see.”
Donald said…
Wondering how these verses fit here (or not)......

Jeremiah 18:2-6

2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Brigham Young comments on these verses:

"The clay that marred in the potter's hand was thrown back into the unprepared portion, to be prepared over again. So it will be with every wicked man and woman, and every wicked nation, kingdom and government upon earth, sooner or later; they will be thrown back to the native element from which they originated, to be worker over again, and be prepared to enjoy some sort of a kingdom." (JD 2:124)
Steve: My argument is based on the logic of identity. If X is the same F (thing) in some sense as Y, there must be properties in common between them that are essential to identity. Such properties do not obtain with re-incarnation. What identifies a pre-mortal spirit and a mortal body as the same person is the continuity of moral character, a continuous spiritual body that retains its level of growth in light and knowledge in subsequent lives from the prior lives. In the re-incarnation model these continuities do not obtain. The next life is bereft of the knowledge and moral gains made in the prior life.
Steve said…
meekmildmagnificent: I am assuming you are not Blake, since your name and writing style are both different. I think your point is valid, but only in some particular or narrow interpretation of reincarnation (I am sure there are many variations). However, one could easily imagine a different view of a series of mortalities where the "continuous spirit body... retains its level of growth in light and knowledge from the prior lives" (l would guess only one mortal life per earth if we're trying to integrate it into LDS theology). Just like in the standard model where one progressed previous to this life in spirit, this new model suggests that progression may have occurred both in spirit and in previous mortal lives as well. I see no reason for the dissolution of identity in this model any more than the standard.

That said, I don't necessarily agree with the concept of multiple mortalities, I just disagree with this argument against it.
Bruce said…
Tim,

To you and CCM…I understand your point…but you are talking about Christ who was in a unique position to understand all things. He had already progressed. I'm talking about the average person who is not a God when he comes here.

I didn't know I could bring Denver into the conversation when I made my first post. But since others have quoted him, then I feel free to bring him into the conversation. Have your considered this post?

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/04/parable.html

“A parable - for which I borrow Hindu and Buddhist notions to make it possible to tell.

There was a certain man who feared not God nor regarded his fellow man; who was filled with ungoverned lust and anger. He married, fathered a child, and abused his son daily, for he was without compassion. In the course of his abuse, he injured his son frequently. When the child was a young boy, in a fit of anger, the man killed his son. He was arrested, convicted of the murder, and executed.

Time is known only to man, but not to God, for all things past, present and future are before Him at all times in one eternal "now." God, who is merciful and whose purpose is to improve His children, to bring about their immortality and lead them into eternal life, needed this man to understand within his heart how his acts affect others. For the man regarded not his fellow man and could not feel compassion for his wicked deeds. With God all things are possible, and therefore the man was sent back again to mortality for further instruction.

When he returned, the man was born as the son of a certain man who feared not God nor regarded his fellow man. His father was filled with ungoverned lust and anger. His father abused him daily and in the course of abuse he was frequently injured. One day the father killed him.

When men die they return to God, who gave them life, and so the child, who had once been a wicked man, returned again to God. The Lord asked him upon his return: "Do you now understand?"

The man replied, "Yes. I have been both. I have been the victim and I have been the perpetrator. I have been the father and I have been the son. I have released my uncontrolled anger and I have been the victim of it. I remember abusing and I also remember being abused. I see now that when I was ungovernable and unkind it was only myself who I abused. What I have given has returned to me and I have caused my own suffering."

The Lord said, "It is well. Now let these experiences work in you, for without the opportunity to use them to live aright, you are not yet ready."

Having been the wicked father and the abused son, the man returned again to the same time and place to now be a neighbor of the wicked man and the abused son. How, then, ought the neighbor act so as to show he had truly learned?"
latterdayseeker said…
Tim, the point I was trying to make with Snuffer's paper is that the "Gods", the noble and great, shed their exalted bodies to come to earth, be born in the flesh and go through mortality in order to assist their children. So at least one group of people who are here on this earth have previously been gods with all that entails. As Snuffer points out:

"For those who qualified before this life to be “exalted” to meet the definition of the word, they must have been sealed into a family unit, husband and wife, possessing the capacity for the continuation of lives. This would mean, therefore, that the Elohim (being plural) included those who were parents. Parents whose decision to come here and prove their own children, required them to in turn come and minister here as servants for those children whom they hope to redeem.

We have a very limited view of the workings of God among men. We have taken a Judeo-Christian view when we were meant to understand things which go far beyond anything these religious traditions have been able to retain. The Restoration of All Things was supposed to revolutionize our understanding."

It seems clear to me that Snuffer is trying to disabuse us of the notion that we were all spirits before we came here and that this is our first time in mortality, at least those who belong to "the noble and great". They were exalted and lived in family units. Can't be done without passing through a mortality. They are here on the earth right now though they were formally gods, part of the Eloheim. Christ would have been one of them, with an exalted body, not a spirit. How else could he have been the great God Jehovah? How does one become a God without having passed through a mortality? I echo the words of a wise man who once said in a film I saw, "I cannot comprehend such a being!". How do you know that you are not one of this select group who shed their immortal bodies to come here (again) and test you children? Why would Snuff say,

"Sixth, nothing about this changes the risks of mortality or the obligations we owe to God while here. It should not change in any way the life you live."?

Just because we may have been exalted before doesn't mean we will remain exalted in the eternities. We, or whoever the noble and great are, were willing to take that risk to descend into a telestial state (again) because we loved our children enough to become "Saviors on Mount Zion" for them. At least that's the way I read his essay.
Donald said…
Ltterdayseeker

I sensed the same thing from Denver. I suppose our first Father and Mother fell from their exalted state so that man might be. I believe the only way we can know if any of us were among those noble and great ones is by prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost.
tmalonemcse said…
I've read it, re-read it and pondered it all day in between work activities. I opened the scriptures and asked the Lord to help me understand Abraham 3:18-28 a little better. I'll tell you one thing that became clearer to me as I read it. It's the idea that spirits have always existed, as opposed to being born. The scripture (verse 18) says the spirits have no beginning. Cross-reference that to D&C 93:29. If someone can refer me to a good discussion / clarification of the differences between intelligence and spirit, I would greatly appreciate it.

We refer to ourselves as spirit children of God and that he is the Father of our spirits, yet the spirit is eternal and has no beginning. So a spirit, our spirits, were never born, they are eternal and have always existed. How did our intelligences get organized (v 22)? My mortal mind is having a hard time comprehending the idea of spirit birth. Is that a false doctrine, not supported by scripture, but simply something we have taught in this church because it sounds good or feels good and is easier for the mortal mind to comprehend?

I found a nice discussion of spirit birth here:

http://smallsimple.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/literal-spirit-birth-2010-smpt-paper/

And an even better one here:

http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/category/theology/spirit-birth/

I'm no theologian. I just want to get straight in my mind some clear definitions of intelligence and spirit. I think I have a good understanding of exaltation and of what is an exalted being. I can't get past Hebrews 9:27 - "it is appointed unto men once to die." I would never want to go through mortality again. I think someone already brought up Alma 11:45: "...this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided..."

I just can't bring myself to believe that an exalted being would or could set aside their exaltation to become mortal again. If Denver's conclusions are correct, then I'm obviously one of those being tested, because I simply can't accept that doctrine. I will pray about it and ask the Lord now that I have studied it out in more detail. I have been reading in Denver's first book again where he talks about proofs as being subjective experiences where you know in a unique way to you that something you are asking about is truth.

Thanks for the great dialog everyone. I'll report back the results of my continued pondering and prayer. By the way, is there a forum or online discussion group somewhere dedicated to Denver's writings? And, in case anyone was wondering, the author of the book I used in the accompanying photo for this post is a member of the Apostolic United Brethren. You can read more about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_United_Brethren I am not endorsing his book, this one or any of his many other books. Just thought you might like to know.
latterdayseeker said…
There are indeed forums dedicated to Snuffer's writings. Two of the best ones I have found are at http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/. Create an account then ask Brian Mecham (brmecham@gmail.com) to add you to two of the private, invitation-only forums. One is called Approaching The Heavenly Gift and the other is called Greater Things. They are private because too many people wanted to bash Snuffer on the public forums and it got rather contentious. These two forums are for those who can act civil in discussing Snuff's teachings.

Point Brian to your blog and show him your favorable treatment of Snuffer and he will have no problem letting you in.
God introduced the idea of eternal lives (taking on a body more than once) about a year ago for me. If you become as a child, open to new ideas and believing, and nourish the seed it will bear great fruit. Unfortunately, Most will cast it away because of unbelief and traditions.

If you have a believing heart, you will find the scriptures will begin to open up to you in ways you've never before considered regarding eternal lives. I know the principle is true.
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks Adam. As I wrote yesterday, I said I would pray about it and report back. The answer I got was, "You need to study this out more in order to understand it better so you can ask an intelligent question." In other words, God did not witness to me that Denver was right or wrong about the concept - at least not yet. My conclusion: I will continue to study it out. God gave me a brain and is still teaching me how to use it.

To latterdayseeker: thanks for making me go back and read Snuffer's talk the third time, and for quoting the part that I had overlooked the first two times. He can sure get long-winded in his introductions. Why didn't he just reference the scriptures and the pertinent parts of Joseph's last 1844 public addresses and then make his points? I guess he must have felt that to come right out and say what he meant was too direct.

For the record, this is his statement that still bothers me: "Parents whose decision to come here and prove their own children, required them to in turn come and minister here as servants for those children whom they hope to redeem." I can still see this as God ministering to us through Jesus when he came and worked out the atonement. Jesus always taught that the Father was in him so God was in effect ministering to us.
Angel said…
Speaking about the brain...the way it works is, our brain processes information that comes both through our physical senses (eyes, ears, skin, etc.) and through our spiritual senses. Once the information arrives to a certain part of the brain, the brain decides to keep it as important information and make you aware of it or discard it as not important. The decision made has to do with statistics. For example, if I play soccer, watch soccer, follow soccer news, etc. all the time, then if I were to be in a room full of people talking, and I heard "soccer", my mind would focus attention to that particular group, because according to what "my eye" focuses on most of the time, this is something with a high percentage of importance. For most people, the spiritual learning that their spiritual man does all the time, both during the day and during the night watch, comes as not sufficiently important and is discarded. Let's say tonight you go to sleep, and in your sleep your spirit self goes into the realm of heaven, and sees wonderful things. Once the spirit self comes back, it downloads all that information into your brain, but the brain says: "ups, not important", so you wake up, and have not a single thought about the subject. Sometimes there are flashes that pierce through that brain veil we've put on, but they are hard to understand because we don't have all connections. So, what I'm trying to say here is, first of all, your spirit self knows many more things than you can imagine and he's been taught by angels already, almost certainly. Second, we can "decide" to remember and process all the spirit learns, you have to tell yourself you want to remember those things and then go and read D&C 88:67-68, which explains how when we focus or have our eye single to the glory of God, then eventually that veil parts (the brain now processes that information and you become aware of it). When we want to learn new spiritual truth, we need to go in, and from inside out to the realm of the Kingdom of God.

About eternal lives, I was a fierce defender of your theory exposed here, more traditional in LDS thought. However, little by little the Lord has shown me this is not the case. Once you start learning the truth about it, you realize it was kind of crazy that at one point you though it wasn't true.

Also, if you go back to Egyptian rituals and religion, the kind they got "from the fathers", they talk about a higher self who lives in heaven, and multiple selfs that come to this earth in a mortal probation. All of these are part of one being, you. You have a body, soul, spirit, and holy spirit. The body, soul, and spirit might be different everytime we come to this Earth, but the holy spirit or higher self is always the same. Our spirit is part of our higher self. It's a little difficult to understand at first, but the more you tap into it, the more the Lord shows you. I recommend also to read "One Eternal Round" and "The message of the Joseph Smith Papyri" from Hugh Nibley.

God bless you all!
Praise the Lord!
yvonne bent said…
I have had many questions arise as I have pondered this question. I have also had some divine guidance to remember that there are other worlds that this earth was formed after. Would the multiple mortalities not contain opportunities to grow on other worlds or earths, but because this is an experience evidently the hardest and most refining of all, our spirit qualifies to come down here for certain critical experiences. Our spirits can have many experiences, but I believe this earth life, this earth that we stand on, is a one time deal.
Steve said…
Tim:

I've thought about responding to your post, but have hesitated to do so.

Let me just say this. Learning about the Adam-God doctrine (and not the Adam Sr/Adam Jr version) was the start of my coming out of my box. It made so much sense to me that Adam and Eve are the prototypes of what happens if we successfully go from mortal to immortal. Also it makes sense to me that the Father and Mother of my spirit would want to start the process of clothing it with flesh. Exalted beings have power over life and death and so why wouldn't they have the power to become once again mortal, and when that assignment has been completed, to take upon them again their immortal status?

Now this is just one part of the process of eternal lives, but it is where I began my understanding. What did not make sense to me, as has been expressed above, is how a person will learn enough from 1 mortal probation to go on to become a god. To me the spirit world is our book learning and mortality is where we really learn and incorporate those lessons. Don't know about you, but I typically don't get everything right the first time around. And I sure don't want a god presiding over me who didn't get everything right. Do you?

Anyways, thanks for the post - even the Adam Sr/Jr link and allowing the comments.


Steve
Bruce said…
Yvonne,

Many people I respect believe this very thing. And now that you have added your voice to theirs, I would tend to agree with you. That for the righteous this is a one time shot...that your multiple moralities were on other worlds and this is a one time deal here on this earth because this is an extreme test.

However for the wicked...where would they go? If it is true that this is the worst of all worlds.. that.Satan has stolen this world as his own...then if you are wicked here...are you going to a better world for your next probation? That sounds like a reward for evil doing. So I don't think you go to a nicer place if you are wicked here. I'm thinking you come right back here to this earth... back to.the worst of all worlds...back here to hell. Because you haven't learned your lessons and you are stuck here until you do. In scriptural terms I think that is called... "being thrust down to hell". They wicked only stay here until they have learned their lessons and then they move on to a better place next time.

It then follows that those who have proved themselves righteous from other probations are down here in hell by assignment to help those stuck here to learn those very same lessons so that they can escape out of here. The righteous are here to preach the gospel to the spirits in prison.

If I am incorrect, I am more than willing to adjust my beliefs.

But I think we can agree...whether it was here or on some other world...this life is not the first time you have experienced a mortality.
Steve said…
BTW, here is a link to some writings by JJ Dewey that talk about this subject: http://www.greaterthings.com/JJDewey/Eternal_Lives/index.html
I would just add the caveat that greaterthings.com is run by an apostate by the name of Sterling Allan. Just saying.

Tim, I would also be leery about the doctrine of MMP. Many fundamentalist polygamists believe such a doctrine. Also just saying.
Steve said…
Hi, Steven.

In the interests of full disclosure, I would add that JJ Dewey was excommunicated from the Church, possibly for teaching false doctrines. Of course, false doctrine today (i.e. Adam-God) can be the doctrine taught repeatedly by the president of the Church yesterday (i.e. Brigham Young). Heck, I had a stake president tell me that Lorenzo's couplet was not doctrine, despite being taught from the pulpit at general conference. Given our course of study for Relief Society and Priesthood this year, I've been meaning to ask him where he ever got that idea...

So, I no longer care if a thing is doctrine or not. Because doctrine in the Church can and does change. Are we not mostly interested if a thing is true or not? And JJ gives plenty of scriptures to ponder in deciding if he is speaking the truth or not. I've been taught plenty of truth by fundamentalists.
JLC said…
I believe the concept of multiple lives very strongly. I kept my mind open to the possibility of Multiple lives a couple of years ago and as I studied the scriptures the concept was being taught to me constantly. I still can't fit all the scriptures together to get a good cohesive understanding but the doctrine is taught over and over again.

I have only met Denver once. I asked him a couple of question about the Holy Ghost and being born again. He never answered my questions The was I wanted him to. He has a way of doing that. But he did say one thing to me that I thought was interesting. We were standing by a car and he put his finger on the side of that car and he said (as best as I can remember) this is us here on earth (referring to his finger on the car.) Now, put points to the left of this point going back 2 blocks and you will get an idea of all the lives you have lived getting to this point. And then he said, Now, add points to the right of this point 2 blocks and you will get an idea of the lives we still need to live before we can get to understand how God is. Those are not his exact words but that was his exact meaning. He never said if all those lives were mortal lives or not but I got the impressions that at least some of them were.

I don't blame anyone for not believing the doctrine. There are aspects of it I am unclear about but I am moved by the spirit that it is a true doctrine

A post by Denver call The Games afoot talks about it. He never states whether is believes or not but says, what does it matter if it is true or not? Today and this life is what matters. Get to Know the Lord now.

I like that advice. Good luck to all of us on that journey.
Glenn Thigpen said…
Are you saying that Adam and Eve did not die as noted in the scriptures, but being born of immortal parents, they just were maybe taken away? This would be in direct opposition to Genesis 5:5 which states " And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."

Thanks,
Glenn
tmalonemcse said…
Hi Glenn,

Not sure if your question was directed to another reader or to me, but I'll answer. Adam and Eve died. Like all mortals they left this life the same way you or I do. They were unique in that were born as immortal but not glorified or exalted beings, became mortal by choice and a process of eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were born of heavenly, immortal parents who came to this earth for the very purpose of bringing forth children here. I have no doubt that Adam and Eve have long since been resurrected, shortly after the Savior. Things were different in this world way back when right after the fall. How else could men and women lived so long? It wasn't until after the flood that the life of man was shortened. But the straight answer is, Adam and Eve were born as Immortals and died as mortals.
Glenn Thigpen said…
It was you that I was replying to. However, this goes in direct opposition to your assertion that "No Immortal Can Become Mortal." This gets into some murky theological ground here. But, in my opinion, there must be some difference between an unmortal person who later becomes mortal and an immortal person who is so because of the resurrection.

Glenn
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks Glenn. I have modified the post section heading to reflect my intention. I added [Exalted Being] in addition to being immortal. It should have read "No Exalted Being can Become Immortal." With so many others commenting here to the contrary, I'm not sure that the correction makes much of a difference because the assertion by others is that yes, they can and do lay aside their exalted status to take up a mortal tabernacle again. Is there a difference between the idea of laying aside an immortal body as opposed to laying aside an exalted body? Are they the same - immortal and exalted? Or is the assertion by others that taking up a mortal tabernacle again comes before the resurrection and exaltation. Still pondering...
Donald said…
Here is Denver's blog....seems like sound advise to me:


The game's afoot
I was asked the following question:

"I ordered the book The Doctrine of Eternal Lives, but not yet received it. I am a little caught off guard. Is this teaching true? I haven't read enough to pray about it and I haven't received the book to study it yet. Can you tell me if it's true?"

My response:

I've never propounded this view, because whether true or not, it does not change a single thing about your life now. You have a challenge before you which can only be met by keeping every requirement established by the Lord for your redemption now.

I fear those who are most enamored by this teaching are only distracted by it. They speculate about their own past history (or histories), and don't realize their present life is slipping into history without adequate attention being given to the moment-to-moment responsibilities we are called upon to meet every second of this life.

So, I leave it to you to decide if there's something to it or not. But, I'd remind you, even if you decide there is truth in it, nothing should change. The game's afoot and you have a challenge to live your life well NOW.
Posted by Denver Snuffer at 9:00 AM
tmalonemcse said…
Thanks Donald.

And here's the link for those who are interested:

http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2011/04/games-afoot.html
Jack said…
MMP doesn't work for me. It makes hash of the atonement.
yvonne bent said…
As God would have it, since He answers our queries and knows our hearts, I have found some very interesting information on this subject, but it is much too long to use it as a reply. One is an entire paper by Bertha Dudde, ( her is the link to this paper. I printed it out and have been underlining like crazy) http://www.akademijavjecnogproljeca.org/dudde_poruke/eng/Creation_The_Fall_of_Lucifer_and_Gods_eternal_plan_of_Salvation.pdf) and the other is chapters of a Book called The Great Gospel of John, and it is in volume 4, (starting in chapter 103 page 173, here is the link to that http://www.jakob-lorber.cc/index.php?s=GGJ4.103&l=en )) with the development of matter.
I would welcome some conversation on this. It touches on science, physics, quarks, oxygen, other worlds, other lives, and a whole lot of things that you may or may not connect with, but it has been interesting reading, to say the least, as well as a big huge barrel of new questions to ask.
[...] me. I’m going to argue in this essay the exact opposite position I presented a few weeks ago on Eternal Lives, Past Lives and Reincarnation. In that paper I stated what I would consider to be the orthodox position of most church members. I [...]
tmalonemcse said…
My position on this is evolving, or has it? You can read more here: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2013/05/03/you-have-been-here-before/

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