Hell and Ignorant High Priests

I am sure it will come as a big shock to you that some of the high priests in this Church are ignorant of basic doctrine and need to go back to the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class for a refresher course. Strong evidence of this took place in my high priest group meeting this morning. And just in case some other high priests reading this are equally ignorant, here is the “official Church doctrine” on the subject:


Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways. First, it is another name for spirit prison, a place in the postmortal spirit world for those who have “died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets” (D&C 138:32). This is a temporary state in which spirits will be taught the gospel and have the opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples (see D&C 138:30–35). Those who accept the gospel may dwell in paradise until the Resurrection. After they are resurrected and judged, they will receive the degree of glory of which they are worthy. Those who choose not to repent but who are not sons of perdition will remain in spirit prison until the end of the Millennium, when they will be freed from hell and punishment and be resurrected to a telestial glory (see D&C 76:81–85).

Second, the word hell is used to refer to outer darkness, which is the dwelling place of the devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (see D&C 29:36–38; D&C 76:28–33). Sons of perdition are those who receive “no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame” (D&C 76:34–35; see also D&C 76:31–33, D&C 76:36–37). Such individuals will not inherit a place in any kingdom of glory; for them the conditions of hell remain (see D&C 76:38; D&C 88:24, D&C 88:32).

This is from True to the Faith, the correlated book published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and copyrighted in 2004 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and introduced by The First Presidency. This book is distributed by the priesthood to new members at or shortly after their baptism. And the doctrine in it is as pure and undefiled as anything in the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants.

So the next time somebody tells you that the only Mormon “hell” is reserved for the sons of perdition who go to Outer Darkness, you can set them straight. But try to be more diplomatic about it than I was this morning, or you might end up eating a knuckle sandwich. Some people are so terrified of going to hell they like to pretend that there is no such thing, and that the worst that can happen is to end up in one of the three kingdoms of glory.

Tomorrow, if I get around to it and still feel like it, I might share with you what Bruce R. McConkie had to say about hell in his marvelous book Mormon Doctrine. Then you can decide whether or not to dismiss his doctrine as “personal opinion” as so many do. I think you will be quite amazed at how close his definition of “hell” is to the one taught as “official Church doctrine” by the Church.

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24 Responses to Hell and Ignorant High Priests

  1. Well, I take the Standard Works, the revelations of the Holy Ghost, and the teachings of Bruce R. McConkie, James E. Talmage and Joseph Fielding Smith as my guide. It was personal revelation from the Holy Ghost that gave me my deep respect for the scriptural and doctrinal teachings of Smith and McConkie. And I try to cross reference all of these with each other accepting as true only what they all agree on. And you may be right about the Abraham quote, but I did not say that references to the Father did not exist, only that most and nearly all references were to the Son. If I said that ALL scriptural references to God were to the Son, then obviously I was wrong and misspoke.

    Robert L. Millet teaches that NEARLY all reference to “salvation” in the scriptures are references to eternal life and exaltation, not lesser kingdoms of glory, resurrection, etc. But he does not way that ALL references to salvation are to eternal life and exaltation. I mention this only because it is another example of doctrine that can be easily misunderstood if the person reading the scriptures is not careful and makes unwarranted assumptions. The Great Apostasy in ancient times took place in part because the “experts” began to understand the words differently and not because the words themselves had changed.

    When our understanding of the standard works is different from such men as Talmage, Smith and McConkie we need to be absolutely certain that the error is theirs and not our own. For most of us, they are the teachers and we are the pupils. Yes, we are entitled to revelation and scriptural interpretation from the Holy Ghost, but so were they. And at least in my case, their scriptural studies were far beyond my own. Not only were they smarter and had studied the scriptures a great deal more than I have, but also they were probably more righteous and closer to the Lord than I am. There is no way to know that for a certainty, but it is certainly a probability.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Sorry. I left off an important quote. “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” -Joseph Smith

  3. Jimmy says:

    I believe you(my opinion) are incorrect as pertaining to “Every reference to “God” or even the “Father” in the scriptures is a reference to the Son except when the Heavenly Father introduces the Only Begotten Son at the time of his baptism in the River Jordan as recorded in the New Testament.” For instance, Abraham 3:27 Says: “And the Lord said : whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man : Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said : I will send the first.” This isn’t the only instance but I find it clear, and I know it doesn’t expressly say God but read on.

    The key element in our scripture study is that the Holy spirit of prophecy is present in ALL studying. If I don’t have the spirit with me as I read, I do not try to understand or analyze the scriptures because I am not perfect and cannot judge all truth for myself. I must be guided by the Holy Ghost. Therefore I read because I know the Spirit will come if I read long enough. Then I will move to a place as moved upon by the Spirit so I can learn the truth that my Heavenly Father wants me to learn at that time.

    As pertaining to the Abraham scripture, the Lord is God, our Heavenly Father. Not because the footnote says it, or an apostle said it(BRM), or anyone says it. This is truth because it is true, and it has been revealed to me that it’s true. Now I do not say this in authority for the church. We shape the doctrine that we know by the way we look at it. Bruce R McConkie took it down a firm line, The Straight and Narrow Path. I personally hold that view. Why? Because of what Elder McConkie said as pertaining to truth. We are saved in and only through Christ, the source of all truth(distributed by the power of the Holy Ghost). We must believe in Christ, meaning conforming our lives to the word of the Lord as given and testified of by the Holy Ghost. If we put any stock in a false doctrine(non truth) in the matter of salvation, then we cannot be saved.(terrestrial or higher) Why? The blessings of the atonement come only to those who believe in Christ. The fullness thereof is reserved for those who receive into their hearts the fullness of it by doing what he asks. Which is “Doing all that we can do.”(2 Nephi 25:23,26,28-29) The only fruit of the atonement given to those that live the telestial law, as far as I know, is that those people will be resurrected and thus will have their body with glory equal to the goodness of their works in this life.

    Ultimately, truth is truth because its truth, and we look to the source of it. That is Jesus Christ. Of whom is testified by the Holy Ghost. Therefore, we must seek the Spirit. We seek the Spirit to learn truth and to be born again, and sanctified and cleansed by the atonement.

    Elder McConkie said at one point that the Standard Works are called the Standard Works because they are the standard. Those words are set in stone, meaning that they are unchanging. There are many commentaries with differing interpretations on the scriptures. However they thus become fragmented in the sense that they are no longer the pure word of Christ. The Bible is fragmented in this sense because of the errors in translation. Essentially the shortcomings and impurities of men get in the way. Elder McConkie stressed the importance of taking the scriptures as a standard of learning.

    We also sustain the apostles of the church as “prophets, seers, and revelators.” They reveal scripture as directed by the spirit, which ONLY, but always, testifies of truth. That is what is so great about truth. It is direct and clean from a garbled message. Not opinions, private interpretations, and speculation, etc. However, they can still be used to teach, because elements of the truth might be contained. But it is not solely truth, if you understand what I am saying.

    So ultimately, there are prophets and apostles that say things that may be opinionized, but that makes it all the more important to listen to the spirit. President Monson is a perfect example. Is every story he tells the doctrine of the church? No(meaning we don’t have to enter our own depression and find others to help and serve)but we learn a principle to apply in our lives, as impressed by the Holy Ghost. Just like Isaiah. He makes you be more in tune to the Spirit, because you have to have it to find the message that he speaks.

    The ultimate key is the Spirit.

  4. I think you have made an excellent point. Every reference to “God” or even the “Father” in the scriptures is a reference to the Son except when the Heavenly Father introduces the Only Begotten Son at the time of his baptism in the River Jordan as recorded in the New Testament. Knowledgeable high priests who have done a fair amount of reading of doctrinal works such as Jesus the Christ and the Articles of Faith by James E. Talmage will know this. The God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are both the Son and not the Father.

    We all need to study our scriptures more and learn our doctrine better. This is more true of some than others.

  5. Pete Pedersen says:

    It is true that being a high priest doesn’t mean you are doctrinally mature. Recently in our high priest class a comment from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Joseph Smith, page 51 is quoted as saying: “God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and this He has given an assurance of in the He raised up His Son Jesus Christ from the dead-the point on which the hope of all who believe the inspired record is founded for their future happiness and enjoyment…” Several so called “gospel scholars” in the class said that it was God the Father who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, according to this. No-one disagreed with their comment, except for me. If I read the scriptures right it states that as “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;” (New Testament | John 5:26) So I think it diminishes our belief in Christ as God when we believe he was raised by the Father. Your comments on this subject would be appreciated.

  6. John, I agree that “some of the high priests in this Church are ignorant of basic doctrine,” but then aren’t we all to some degree?

    “This is from True to the Faith, the correlated book published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and copyrighted in 2004 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and introduced by The First Presidency. This book is distributed by the priesthood to new members at or shortly after their baptism. And the doctrine in it is as pure and undefiled as anything in the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants.”

    My understanding is that official church doctrine is only found in the standard works and in first presidency statements that interpret scripture. I would say that it was an overstatement to make the claim that TTTF’s doctrine is as pure and undefiled as the standard works. Sure, it contains truth, but it also contains error. It ain’t binding on us, it ain’t scripture, and we won’t be judged by it, like we will with the canonized scriptures.

  7. truth seeker says:

    McConkie was very intelligent, but I don’t find Mormon Doctrine to be that marvelous of a book. McKay hated it himself. I’d say even better options are James E. Talmages, “Jesus the Christ,” and the complete discourses of Gordon B. Hinckely. Those books are all highly faith promoting and make me want to be a better person.

  8. annegb says:

    My husband has been in two bishoprics, a high councilman, etc. etc. and he’s only read the Book of Mormon once, that was last year. He’s been active in the church since 1976. Never read the Book of Mormon. Basically, he’s clueless.

    However, he’s honest and faithful and good. I think that counts for a lot. I suspect most of the high priests are clueless.

  9. Jim Cobabe says:

    Mark, I think now you have transcended from strangeness and entered silly space.

    Unfortunately, Elder McConkie is not currently available to answer to your charges of teaching of false doctrine.

    Perhaps you and he will be able to discuss your interesting take on these matters at some later, opportune moment. Then I suppose we can discern which of you is the keeper of true doctrine, and which is more likely to lead followers to apostasy.

    Now I am curious, though — do you also keep a similar list of complaints and offending issues that you have compiled for other latter-day prophets?

  10. Jim Cobabe says:

    Isn’t it an odd preoccupation for otherwise faithful latter-day saints to presume to pronounce whether “mistakes” were made by past prophets and church leaders. It leads me to a suspicion that such presumptuous ones must also be making similar assessments of current prophets and leaders.

    I welcome the teachings and counsel of inspired leaders. I wish we could hear more. My suspicion is that the critical attitudes of certain church members constrain the Heavenly Father from granting us further light and knowledge.

  11. Mark Butler wrote:

    And you are repeating his worst errors. If he were here today he would tell you to quit being so manipulative. To quit behaving as he did – implying that anyone who did not adopt his theological creed – the one he published and promoted without any authority of any kind – is going straight to hell. Creeds are an abomination, and that is exactly what you are trying to enforce, not understanding the nature of the word of God. So I am going to quit entertaining such infantile fantasies. Bruce R. McConkie was a great hindrance to the Church in many ways, and it is no accident that his name is known as a hiss and a byword the world over, and in the Church in particular. He was clueless with regard to the doctrines of salvation, not understanding the power of God.

    I’m so glad you wrote this. It is an ideal example of the kind of attitude that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. A lot of saints are unware and even disbelieving that there are Church members who hold Elder McConkie and President Joseph Fielding Smith in such contempt. Our current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve certainly do not. Why, I heard Elder McConkie quoted as recently as Sunday in General Conference. Parts of the Bible Dictionary bound with our LDS Scriptures were lifted verbatim from his Mormon Doctrine, and the chapter headings that he wrote for our standard works are probably the most important commentary on the scriptures that we have. Anyone familiar with Brigham Young’s teachings can tell you that he emphasized the need to follow the living oracles and avoid personal apostasy. And today that means respecting Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith at least as well as our Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley and the rest of our “prophets, seers and revelators.” I happen to know for a fact that both men are still highly thought of by the top leadership of the Church. And if these men had an influence upon Church doctrine it was not because they taught, but because what they taught was embraced by those with the keys of authority to do so.

    If Elder McConkie’s name “is known as a hiss and a byword the world over, and in the Church in particular,” it is not by our living prophets but by those who do not follow prophets and are even confused about what a prophet is.

    As for who made greater errors, Elder McConkie or Brigham Young, unlike yourself I do not feel qualified to make that determination. My thought and understanding of doctrine has been heavily influenced by them both. To my ears, the prophets of the Restoration are all saying the same thing. I don’t hear all the discord so many others report. If some of them sing tenor and others sing bass, if each voice is distinctive and individual, they are still an almost perfect choir singing the same anthem. And the doctrine that I hear coming from that magnificent choir is one great harmony more beautiful that any song sung by mortal human voices. The doctrines of this Church are the most certain proof that the Church is true. And that includes the doctrines as taught by both Brigham Young and Bruce R. McConkie.

  12. Mark Butler wrote:
    And on that latter point I believe some have errored. The details are not that significant to us in the here and now – in fact writing them in stone is very dangerous, as history abundantly testifies. It is the Spirit that guides each of us in the understanding of the scriptures. Any scripturally coherent exposition cannot lead us away. Any truly harmful theology will explicitly contradict the scriptures on one or more points.

    My whole point in this discussion has been that the standard works ie. the scriptures cannot be privately interpreted. They must be interpreted as the living prophets interpret them. The only alternative is theological anarchy with every man preaching his own doctrine rather than the Lord’s. Just what do you think a prophet is, anyway? If the scriptures were sufficient, there would have been no need for a Restoration. And there would be no need for a Prophet alive upon the earth today. Perhaps you misunderstand or misinterpret the scriptures. Perhaps you misunderstand or misinterpret the teachings of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball or Erastus Snow. Unless there is a living prophet upon the earth against which to measure your interpretation how could you possibly know that your interpretation is correct?

    Let me put this principle another way. When I joined the Church in 1963, the standard, memorized missionary lessons included a segment that went this way:

    “If you had lived in the days of Moses, and you had a question about a matter of religion such as whether a baptism should be performed by immersion or by sprinkling, why would you have gone to Moses for an answer to your question instead of some other religious teacher?”

    The answer, of course, is that Moses was a prophet of God and therefore God’s mouthpiece or spokesman having God’s authority to state the Lord’s position on the matter. Further, the Lord had chosen Moses for this calling. He did not choose himself to be God’s spokesman.

    The living prophet is either God’s spokesman, or he is not really a prophet at all. He is a pretender. And if he is God’s spokesman and prophet, then his words are scripture more certainly to be trusted than anything that has been handed down to us by prophets in the past. Human language is like that. It means different things to different people depending on how they interpret it. And the only correct interpretation of scripture is the interpretation of scripture given to us by the living Prophet. If you do not believe this and it is not part of your religion, then it is likely that you are a member of an apostate sect, perhaps some group of so-called fundamentalists who claim to believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet but who do not believe the same about Gordon B. Hinckley.

    How about it? Do you believe that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet just as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were? If you do not, then you are no Latter-day Saint but someone posing as one in the comments section of my blog.

  13. The standard works and the living prophets have said that every living thing will be resurrected to an immortal state never to die again, and that settles it for me. Apparently Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Erastus Snow were ignorant and had some false ideas. But that shouldn’t bother any of us. The Restoration began with the First Vision and is still going on today. We embrace the concept of continuing revelation as fundamental and essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It should not surprise anyone that the prophets today know more than those that lived during 19th century. We’ve had more than a hundred years of additional revelation since then. And a hundred years from now we will know a great deal more than we do today. That will especially be true if the Second Coming ushers in the Millennium before then.

  14. It is possible that you are so much smarter than I am, and more educated in the teachings of the Restoration prophets, that you are able to see contradictions between the doctrine taught publicly by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the King Follett Sermon. But I know the doctrine as taught in our correlated manuals, as taught by the CES, as taught in General Conference, etc. fairly well, and I also know and deeply love the King Follett Sermon. And I see no contradiction. So obviously you are seeing a contradiction where is none, or I am failing to see a contradiction where there is one.

    I know that Joseph Smith said on a number of ocassions that if he were to reveal all that he knew about the Kingdom of God most of the saints would be so offended by it that they would apostatize. I cannot imagine what he was referring to, but I like to think that I could accept whatever he revealed. The Lord knows that Mormon doctrine even on the most elementary level is a huge departure from everything I was ever taught as a Protestant Christian growing up. I have a proven track record of being able to accept and fervently believe utterly outlandish and fantastical teachings from any traditional Christian perspective. I am loath to think that I have reached the end of my mental flexibility when it comes to embracing revealed truth no matter how seemingly bizarre.

    So I don’t know why I couldn’t understand and accept as true anything that you have been able to accept. But one thing I cannot accept is that it is appropriate to believe and teach anything other than what has been taught by the Restoration prophets from Joseph Smith down through Gordon B. Hinckley. To be sure, they do not teach all that they know, but neither is anything that they teach untrue. And they definitely teach that every living thing will be resurrected including the Sons of Perdition that kept their first estate and became Sons of Perdition in mortality.

    If you can cite for me a statement made in public or private by any President of the Church from Joseph Smith through Gordon B. Hinckley, there is a good chance that I will change my view. But I have never seen such a teaching. Is there something in the Journal of Discourses that I could read? Perhaps something in the writings of Heber C. Kimball? I am even ready to accept Adam-God theory as higher doctrine if I can be certain that what he taught means what the apostates and polygamists say it means. President Kimball said that it was false doctrine, but I am not clear whether he is referring to what Brigham Young taught or what the apostates say Brigham Young taught. I am not at all confident that they are the same.

    In the meantime, could you spell out for me how the King Follett Sermon contradicts currently taught doctrine? I’m probably just a little slow picking this up because I believe utterly everything that Joseph Smith said in the King Follett Sermon but find nothing in that sermon that seems to contradict Gospel Essentials or True to the Faith which are correlated manuals published by the Church to teach investigators and new members.

    As for your remarks about creeds being an abomination, that seems to me a straw man because surely I am as opposed to creeds as you are. All I require of revealed truth is that it be consistent with previously revealed truth or an intelligent explanation of why the contradiction seems to exist. I certainly would never agree to putting a cap on what truth is revealed and suggest that nothing more should be added. But according to my understanding, only the President of the Church has the authority to add anything. Not just any Tom, Mark or John.

    As for the scriptures being comprehensive enough to detect false doctrine, it has been amply demonstrated thoughout mankind’s history that the scriptures alone without personal revelation and without the guidance of living prophets are not sufficient to detect false doctrine. The world is awash with apostate sects that can prove every false doctrine they teach from the scriptures. Without personal revelation and living prophets the scriptures are perfectly worthless for detecting and exposing false doctrine. As Joseph Smith said of the Protestant denominations of his day:

    the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible. (JS-H 1:12)

    Is this not the problem with all human language? What is to prevent a person without inspiration and without living prophets from understanding the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon just as incorrectly as they understand the Bible? Look how differently men in our land understand the US Constitution, another written document inspired by God and horribly misunderstood by uninspired and even evil men.

    I do not believe in prohibiting anyone from pondering the discussion of the mysteries, but when in our pondering we come up with answers that contradict what the Lord’s chosen prophets teach, we need to seriously question our own inspiration, not to mention our ability to understand spiritual things.

    Where does this idea come from that the mortal Sons of Perdition are not resurrected? It certainly doesn’t come from the Church headquartered in Salt Lake City. What “prophet” is teaching this besides yourself? Or is it original with you? I am willing to accept new truth as long as it does not contradict truth that has already been established. I’m even willing to accept truth that does contradict if it can be shown to me where my previous understanding was incorrect. I just cannot accept that two things that are both truth contradict each other. And you seem to be saying that the LDS prophets are teaching false doctrine when they say that every living thing including the Sons of Perdition will be resurrected. Are you suggesting that they know better but they are lying to the membership of the Church because they do not believe them ready to hear the whole story? I suppose that could be true, but it doesn’t seem very likely to me. It would just be a lot easier for them not to say anything at all.

  15. Mark Butler says:

    That is why I give the D&C 76 account precedence. Now your interpretation is vaguely plausible, but it will not work in context. The reason it won’t work is that the passage is based on a dichotomy between the sons of Perdition and all the rest. The sons of Perdition are damned. All the rest are resurrected. Why all the rest? Because all the rest is the subject of the sentence. Adverbial qualifiers after the verb do not modify the subject, they modify the verb – the one here explains how all the rest will be resurrected, it does not change nor restrict nor expand the scope of the subject of the sentence, which is “all the rest“.

    Are you forgetting something? The living prophets of God, those whom he has commissioned to preach his doctrine and to keep that doctrine pure, teach what I do. And we Latter-day Saints are a prophet-following people, are we not? It is possibly the most fundamental tenet of our faith after the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You belong to the same Church that I do, don’t you? You hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, I assume. Then how is it you feel free to teach a different doctrine from that taught by the Savior’s called and set apart seers?

    I guess we will all find out in due process of time. But until these things are a matter of knowledge rather than faith, I’ll stick with the prophets of God. And as one who follows them, I will follow them in what I believe as well as in doing the things they ask me to do. The First Presidency and the Twelve clearly teach that all living things including the Sons of Perdition will be resurrected, and then they will be cast into Outer Darkness.

  16. Daylan says:


    If spirits can choose “good” (to progress from 2 to 1 to 3) do you think it’s possible that they can change their mind, choose evil and revert to 1?

  17. Mark, as you undoubtedly know, the scriptures can be interpreted many ways. And without guidance either from the Holy Ghost or from living prophets or hopefully from both, it is very easy to interpret them wrong because in so many places they seem to contradict themselves. And while it is true that God is the author of the scriptures, without the revelations of the Holy Ghost and the teachings of the prophets it is impossible for God to correct the misunderstandings we may have. The feedback mechanism is lacking in such a case. And without it, accurate communication between God and man does not take place.

    Keeping this in mind, I believe you are misinterpreting D&C 76 above, specifically where it says

    For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.

    While superficially it seems to be saying that only those who are not Sons of Perdition will be resurrected, it could also be interpreted to mean that only those who are not Sons of Perdition will be resurrected through the Lord’s triumph and glory. Perhaps the Lord receives no triumph or glory in resurrecting Sons of Perdition. Or it may be referring only to those Sons of Perdition who did not keep their First Estate and hence were cast out of heaven with Lucifer. Of course, they will not be resurrected. The point I am trying to make is that it is not necessarily saying that the Sons of Perdition who became Sons of Perdition in mortality will not be resurrected.

    And, the living prophets of God have and do now teach that every living thing including the Sons of Perdition will be resurrected before the final judgement. So your interpretation must be incorrect since they are prophets and you are not, at least not for the purpose of interpreting the scriptures for the Church. The prophets alive today are just as competent to the task of revealing the mind and will of God as the one who wrote the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Scriptures are no more infallible than the prophets who write them. And when two interpretations of scripture are possible and only only of them is consistent with the teachings of the Lord’s living prophets, that is the correct interpretation. We cannot just make up doctrine as we go along, no matter what we may think the standard works say. The standard works say whatever the President of the Church says they do. And he says that every living thing will be resurrected. Check True to the Faith or Gospel Essentials to confirm this.

  18. Rob Osborn says:

    If I read 19:20 correct, it suggests that the suffering would be just like what Christ suffered. He is refering to the eternal punishment that comes upon the ungodly after resurrection.

    The sons of perdition will be resurrected. It is called the resurrection of the unjust/ damnation.

  19. Rob Osborn says:

    I would just like to comment on what was said about those who suffer as Christ did in section 19. That suffering you will notice if you read the entire section, is reserved only for the sons of perdition which comes after resurrection and judgement.

    Just as a spirit without a body cannot recieve a fulness of joy, a spirit also cannot recieve a fulness of misery without the body!

  20. Bookslinger says:

    Mark Butler:

    Perhaps there needs to be a distinction between the earthly lives/laws that results in one being worthy of the telestial kingdom, and the lives/laws of the inhabitants of the telestial kingdom once they get there.

    I think the main point of McConkie’s quote is that you can’t get to the telestial kingdom without first going through Hell. To try, or aim for, the telestial kingdom, is to plan on going to and through Hell.

    If one does, in this life, what is necessary to “avoid Hell”, then the minimum end-result is the Terrestrial Kingdom.

    I think there is some spin, nuance or explanation of McConkie’s quote that is lacking there, but in essence, I agree with it. Those who are only capable of living a telestial law throughout eternity, will first have to pass through Hell, on their way to the telestial kingdom.

    I envision Outer Darkness like the dump outside the city limits. It’s where the refuse goes. Everything that remains “in the kingdom” must be spotless so that Christ can present it to the Father (Revelation and Section 76).

    In the big diagram in my mind, our universe is Heavenly Father’s kingdom. Other exalted beings have their own universes in an overall multiverse. Perhaps Outer Darkness is the void area between universes where no kingdom exists.

    In regards to your quote: “No one has ever been damned as a result of obedience to law.” I would point to the example of the Pharisees. They lived the Mosaic Law to a “T”, but were damned for it, because they refused the higher law, and they refused to let the Mosaic Law point them to the higher law.

  21. Bookslinger says:

    JWR is correctomundo. You get the same two definitions of Hell by reading The Revelation of St. John the Divine in the New Testament, and combining it with section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

    Both are clear that at the end of the Millennium that “death and Hell give up their dead.”

    Combining other words of the prophets, one might also further sub-divide the “Spirit Prison” into various sections. There’s the section (1) of those in the process of learning the gospel and repenting of their sins. There’s the section (2) of those who refuse to repent, so they’re paying/suffering for their sins as Christ suffered as described in D&C Section 19. And there’s the section (3) of those who are only still there because they’re waiting for their temple work to be done to be released. That second section, where people are suffering as Christ did, perhaps we could call “Hell proper” or the “dungeon” part of the prison.

    I would suppose one could move from the different sections, from section 1 to 3, and from section 2 to 1 to 3. And I’m open to the possibility that the three “sections” are more like “states of being” rather than geographic spiritual locations.

    My view of section 2 is that it is the part of Spirit Prison that is most like Outer Darkness, a place that the Light of Christ does not reach, therefore those who are in those locations/conditions are spiritually dead.

    To have the Light of Christ totally withdrawn is like a fish being out of life-giving water. It is death, or existance without life. It is not nihilism. I believe it is the withdrawal of the Spirit of Christ which (under normal conditions) “fills the immensity of space” as described in Section 88:5-13. However, the places where the Light of Christ doesn’t go, and doesn’t “quicken” everything are a) the “Hell” section (section 2) of Spirit Prison, and b) Outer Darkness.

    I believe that the “Hell section” of Spirit Prison is a temporary version of Outer Darkness. It’s God saying to the person, “Do you really want this condition for eternity, or at least until the end of the Millennium? If not, repent.”

    Shortly before I came back to church after a long absence, I had a two-week period of time in which I believe the Light of Christ was withdrawn from me for brief periods, mabye only a minute or two at a time, several times a day. It was the most horrible thing I’ve experienced in my life. But it was not the application of something, it was the withdrawal of something. It was painful discipline, but it was highly instructive. It was an astoundingly tremendous motivation to repent.

    An institute instructor’s quote later put it in crystal clarity, “The worst thing God can do is absolutely nothing, which he does by _totally_ withdrawing from you.”

    As I related the experience to a bishop, he compared it to the few moments of darkness Joseph Smith experienced immediately prior to his first vision. Satan had access to Joseph for a few seconds because the Lord had temporarily withdrawn.

    I don’t know if we’ve been told the reason the Lord allowed Satan to almost crush/suffocate Joseph immediately prior to the first vision.

  22. J. Stapley says:

    Esactly what dave said. It has been a long time since I read the Mormon Doctrine entries on this topic, but it is no surprise the McConkie was right on the money here. The scriptures are pretty strait forward on the topic and it seems to me that there has been consensus for a very long time.

  23. Dave says:

    Great topic, John. I’m gonna have to come up with a different choice for my “H” topic over at BT now! I think the fact that there are two Mormon places that are a little bit like traditional hell suggest perhaps a different approach to the query, “Do Mormons believe in hell?” I think the best answer (relying on the TTTF statement) is something like this:

    “We certainly don’t believe in the sectarian Christian notion of hell as a place of eternal suffering where everyone goes except for saved Evangelical Christians. How could anyone affirming a loving God believe in such a place? The closest that Mormon doctrine comes to that concept is spirit prison (detention but not suffering for the unrepentant after death but prior to the resurrection) and perdition (a place of eternal suffering reserved for a very few souls who come out in rebellion against God after having full knowledge of His goodness and glory). But those really aren’t that much like the traditional Christian notion of hell.”

    But I’m not sure I’d actually say that out loud up North. A rough and tumble bunch up there, even in HP Group.

  24. Brett says:

    I don’t understand your post. From true to the faith it looks like hell is only for sons of perdition and the worst that can happen (for normal high priest and normal members) is end up in one of the three kingdoms of glory.Spencer W. Kimball stated, “The sin against the Holy Ghost requires such knowledge that it is manifestly impossible for the rank and file to commit such a sin” (The Miracle o Forgiveness, p.123) Joseph Smith taught that person has to “have the heavens opened unto him, and know God….He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.358).

    Sure, hell exists in the spirit world, but it’s only eternal for the sons of perdition.

    I think what members mean when they say there is no hell, is that we don’t believe in the hell of the majority of Chrstianity. It bothers me when Christians say we don’t believe in grace. I think our concept of the afterlife is more graceful and compassionate than the majority of Christiandom.

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