Mortality as a Final Exam

There may be those who view this life as a test which will only include a list of do’s and don’ts that occur in this mortal life. And if you have enough check marks in the proper column you’re in good shape. I do not agree with this notion. Certainly I believe in the commandments and the ordinances, yet I feel that the final judgment will mostly come down to who you are, what you have become, and the progressive path you are on. But even those who agree with this more-or-less so far, may feel that this mortal life is the only criteria, or period of time, that this test will be evaluated on, thus neglecting the pre-existence as a part of who we are, and what we have become.

I chose the term final test for this post to express the idea that our journey through the plan of salvation may be similar to taking a college class with a semester worth of homework, reading, lab work, quizzes, tests, semester projects, etc., and an important final test at the end. This may be more similar if the final test is a very practical, hands-on type of test. If you follow this so far, this would mean that preexistent spirits, on the verge of coming to earth are not idiot infants, but intelligent, mature, capable beings who have made a remarkable amount of progress so far, completing a ‘semester’ worth of course work. They have learned much and are now ready to take one last practical final exam before receiving their grade or judgment.

If this is a nearly correct way of looking at things, then it may give us a better perspective of how we should work out our own salvation. I also think it answers a few questions. I believe that once we reach the end of our journey and look back we will discover that the path of our existence was more of a smooth continuous path with not so jagged transitions from intelligence, to spirit, to mortality, to spirit world, to a resurrection of glory. One stage leading into the next as a continuation.

There is some scriptural based evidence for significant preexistent progress that I would like to review. This includes:

Jesus as a spirit child of Heavenly Father gaining God hood status prior to being born on earth.

A group of preexistent spirits being referred to as being ‘Nobel and great’ (Abraham 3:22-23)

Children who die before the age of accountability being celestial (D&C 137:10)

One third of the host of heaven being cast out as a result of the war in heaven (D&C 29:36-38)

The first three go together in my mind. Christ and a certain number of spirits were all noble and great prior to coming to earth. For many of them coming to earth may have been a type of technical necessity. Christ needed to fulfill his role as savior, but his status as a God was never in question based on his preexistent progress. There may have been a huge number of noble and great spirits that may have included all children who die before accountability kicks in. The last piece of evidence I state shows the other side of the spectrum. It appears some spirits may have ‘progressed’ in the wrong direction to such an extent that they were not even allowed to participate in the plan of salvation. A type of judgment has already occurred for them, having failed the prerequisites for the course.

It seems to me that we existed for a very, very long period of time as spirit beings. It appears we had agency, intelligence, memories, etc., at that time. It is evident that significant progress, even to the status of god hood, was possible during the pre-existence. All that experience and progress has gone into who we are, and will be part of our final judgment. Which leads me to believe that this life is like a type of practical final exam which is a continuation of where we had progressed to prior to entering mortality.

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13 Responses to “Mortality as a Final Exam”


  1. 1 Geoff J March 5, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    I assume you can see the myriad of problems you face here and why MMP is a much cleaner and logical explanation of eternity, right? If we have been on probation all along and some spirits became God (Jesus at least) while many others were judged and sentenced to outer darkness (the “third part” of the host of heaven) then this earth (assuming it is our only mortal probation) becomes largely an unnecessary technicality for all of us. Given enough time presumably all of us could have ended up in the same boat as either Jesus or the “third part” without ever coming here. Without MMP this life is really only a way to get a body and a way to cut off the test for those who could surely do better given more time.

  2. 2 Naiah Earhart March 6, 2006 at 12:53 am

    MMP? Help me out here; I’m not so good with acronyms.

    I tend to think of this earth as a proving ground more than as a school itself. We certainly learn (rather re-learn) as we go, but I believe that this is the place we have come to choose whom we will serve. We were undoubtedly intelligences in the pre-existence, but we were intelligences with it all laid out before us.

    Coming here, behind the veil, affords us a chance to refine ourselves independent of the obvious. The differences between Heavenly Father and the adversary are so deviously subtle, and we, if we are to ascend, must know the difference. In the pre-existence it was all right there before us and clear what was of Father. Coming here, we have to learn to feel out the right and wrong on our own.

  3. 3 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 8:38 am

    Geoff:

    I think MMP makes more mess than it cleans up. It appears that you feel progression is a linear thing and must procede on linear path for eternity. I disagree with that notion. If I had to guess, I would guess that progress would follow an exponential rise or decay similar to the charging/discharging of a capacitor in electronics or the rise/fall of temperature in heat transfer. this would cause progress to asymptotically approach a final state where you eventually reach a point of diminishing returns where it becomes evident that more time will not change things much. Such an equation would look like this:

    P = C(1-e(-t))

    Where P would be progress, C would be capacity and t would be time.

    I believe that ‘if I only had more time’ might be one of the teeth gnashing excuses given during thefinal judgement. And there may be cases where a perfect judge would see through that.

    I think the following combination is better than MMP:

    A near eternal pre-existence with significant progress.

    A single mortal probation that may be a technicality for some, vital to others.

    continued learning and vicarious work after death.

    Judgement by a perfect judge.

    Possible progress and learning after judgement, At least for celestial folks.

    I think this functionally provides most if not all of the benefits of an MMP model without bringing in a form of reincarnation. Best of both worlds.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 8:43 am

    Naiah:

    MMP is multiple mortal probations. I believe it is a form of reincarnation, but only as humans. Is that fair Geoff? Geoff, if you would like to throw in a link to a review of MMP feel free to. Perhaps your guest post at BCC was a good review?

    I like your re-learn comment. It leads to the idea of getting our bodies to conform to the spirit that we are, or were. It seems to me the body may be a type of ampliphier that makes temptations even stronger. Life is a difficult proving ground.

    I think our progress in the pre-existence will have many of us well prepared to feel out right and wrong. It will be easier for some than for others.

  5. 5 Geoff J March 6, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Naiah,

    Here is that link to my T&S guest post over viewing the MMP idea and here is the series at the Thang. The idea is that the inhabitants of those worlds without number that have already passed were not separate batches of God’s children who have since been discarded, but that it was us.

    There is pretty good evidence that Brigham, Heber C., Eliza R., a couple of Orsons and others leaned toward the idea.

  6. 6 Geoff J March 6, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Eric,

    A few things…

    First, you lost me with the equation because you didn’t explain what e was. Can you fill in the gaps for me?

    There are other snags too:

    a. What does “near eternal” mean? Sounds like an oxymoron to me. Either we existed and infinite amount of time or a finite amount of time. It sounds like you lean toward a finite amount of time, so then the next question is if we all lived the exact same amount of time. If not then why did some spirits get longer to prepare than others — how is that just? If you say it was long enough to properly judge us then you have the problem of this life being largely moot as a test. In any case, the model you propose has serious fairness and logic issues I think.

    b. Only Celestial folks can progress after this life? Does that mean free will is taken away from the rest? If they continue to live forever where do they do so with their Telestial bodies (which are presumably like our current Telestial bodies). Is it on a penal planet of some kind where they can never have a space exploration program? Forever is… you know… forever. Would God really discard his own children like that?

  7. 7 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Did my comment to Geoff not take????

  8. 8 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    Ok let me try this again. Geoff, I will review your link to T&S.

    e is e. The exponential function. The inverse of the natural log. On scientific calculators it is the small e. Used for exponential rise and decay among other things.

    I do believe that we have a spirit birthday, so a finite pre-existence. But that the time is mind boggelingly long. From our perspective eternal-ish. The only fairness issue I can think of would come from those who do not trust that God can be a perfect judge.

    When I mention Celestial progress I mean to imply that progress in the other kingdoms will be limited. As far as Telestial folks go, it may surprise you that I do not know the answer to all things. As far as their day-to-day activity and where they will be I do not know and have no speculation at this time.

    As far as Telestial Kingdom bodies being like our current bodies I disagree completely. Telestial bodies will be eternal, without blood, and glorious.

  9. 9 Rob Osborn March 6, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    did my comment not take either?

  10. 10 Rob Osborn March 6, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    The view that this life is some type of final exam has some issues.

    There certainly is not a final reward or endpoint is there?

    The false notion that Telestial folks will be stopped in their progress forever does not have any scriptural support.

    I believe that the temple teaches us that we first enter into the fallen condition in the world. We are then entered into the Telestial Kingdom upon obedience and then on up through to the Celestial Kingdom. I believe that is an eternal pattern for all mankind.

    Telestial along with Terrestrial heirs will be able to advance to higher kingdoms upon their individual obedience to a higher set of laws. Obedience to law enables one to recieve the blessings of that law and if a Telestial soul learns to live according to a Terrestrial law he will reap those blessings of the Terrestrial law, this includes a renewing of the body from Telestial to Terrestrial.

  11. 11 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 8:11 pm

    Rob:

    A final reward or endpoint? Eternal Life. Greatest of all the gifts of God.

    Also there has been questions about limited progress. One possible explanation for this would be found in D&C 131:1-4. Let me try this…

    Only those in the highest degree of the Celestial will have an eternal marriage and therefore eternal increase. Eternal increase from an eternal marriage is a huge chunk of what we would term eternal progression. Therefore all those not in the highest degree of the celetial will have a limited progress. Sure they may still have free will, but they will live singly without eternal increase i.e. progression.

    Also, does not the temple term the earth as the telestial world, not the telestial kingdom?

    I think the only other question in this simplified score is whether or not an individual can progress from one kindom to the next after the final judgment. Bruce R. called this a deadly heresy.

  12. 12 Eric Nielson March 6, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    To perhaps review my original post and purpose. The main points I was trying pitifully to propose:

    Judgement based on what we have become, more than on a checklist.

    A very long pre-existence with a very high possible level of progress before even coming to earth.

    Mortality as a continuation of the pre-existence and a portion of the final judgement, with pre-existence possibly a greater portion of that evaluation in some cases (D&C 137:10)

  13. 13 Wade March 7, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Eric:
    I wanted to thank you for your contributions to the bloggernacle with such posts as this one. Also, if you’re interested, my co-blogger (Ryan) and I would like to extend an invitation to you. Go here to learn more.


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