Posts Tagged 'Mormon Doctrine'



Joseph Smith Teaching Spirit Birth? Or Something Like It?

I was asked to teach the Elder’s quorum Lesson yesterday.  We were on lesson 42 of the manual which can be viewed here.  Right off the bat there is a very interesting paragraph:

By 1843, although the Nauvoo Temple was not yet finished, the Prophet had announced the doctrine of salvation for the dead, and he had administered the temple endowment to a group of faithful Saints. But an important part of the sacred work of temples had yet to be put in place. On May 16, 1843, the Prophet traveled from Nauvoo to Ramus, Illinois, where he stayed at the home of his close friend Benjamin F. Johnson. That evening, he taught Brother and Sister Johnson and a few close friends about the “new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” He explained that this covenant was the “order of the priesthood” necessary to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. (See D&C 131:1–4.) He also taught that unless a man and a woman enter into the covenant of eternal marriage, “they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection.” Those who do enter into this covenant and remain faithful “will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.”  (HC 5:391)

I have been told a few times in blog debates over spirit birth that Joseph Smith never taught anything about spirit birth, and I have been a little surprised by that.  But this quotation (From History of the Church) is pretty interesting and may bring some evidence about his thoughts on the topic.   The money line in this quote is ‘they will not have any children after the resurrection’.

So, if we assume that Joseph did teach something along these lines, and that it was recorded properly.  What are we to make of such after-resurrection child bearing by exalted, sealed married couples?  I am not sure there are very many possibilities:

1 – This was Joseph’s opinion – and he was wrong.  (Not very satisfying, especially given D&C 131)

2 – Exalted couples giving birth to …. resurrected, exalted beings?  (Not very satisfying either.  Seems a short circuit of the Plan of Salvation.)

3 – Exalted couples giving birth to spirit body offspring.  (This sounds more like it.)

Now, I realize that the quote from above speaks only to the eternal future, and not directly to the eternal past.  But given some statements from the KFD, would we not suppose that the same pattern also went on before?

Does this quote not provide some evidence of Joseph teaching something along the lines of spirit birth?

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 7 – Revelation and Self-Revelation

The last of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter seven of ‘Eternal Man’ by Truman Madsen is called Revelation and Self-Revelation. Madsen begins by talking about efforts to explain mankind’s religiousness. There are many who would reduce this as nothing more than folk-psychology, primitive taboo, flights of wish, emotional purgation, or aesthetic ritual. But he claims that there is something of a universal agreement among such writers that man has an innate sense of something holy and sacred. And that this fact of human consciousness cannot be traced to rational and empirical sources. Madsen again credits this sense of the sacred and holy to the modern revelations regarding man’s premortal spirit.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 7 – Revelation and Self-Revelation’

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 6 – Freedom and Fulfillment

The sixth of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter six of Eternal Man is called ‘Freedom and Fulfillment’, which addresses free will. Questions such as:

In what sense, if at all, is man free?
Does everything that happens, have to happen?
Given the same conditions could I have been or done otherwise?

are presented. Madsen gives what was then some new developments which he felt added some freshness to a long stalemate between determinists and indeterminists.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 6 – Freedom and Fulfillment’

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 5 – Evil and Suffering

The fifth of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter five of ‘Eternal Man’ by Truman Madsen is on Evil and Suffering. Madsen concedes that the most staggering objection to a personable God is the overwhelming fact of human inequality and suffering. He then gives a few examples of extreme suffering. For most believers in God, they resort to believing that the ways of God are strange and inscrutable. Some religions go so far as to deny evil. Others find it difficult to not assign evil to God. For one there is no problem, for the other there is no hope.

This chapter is a unique chapter in that most of it is a hypothetical conversation between a woman with a baby that was born blind and paralyzed, and Joseph Smith. Madsen has such a gift for poetic descriptions that I can not hope to match. Yet, I do not wish to simply retype this conversation. If you want the full conversation, buy the book. I will attempt to provide the basics of this conversation in my usual simple way.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 5 – Evil and Suffering’

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 4 – The Spirit and The Body

The fourth of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter four of Eternal Man has to do with the spirit and the body. Madsen begins by presenting three statements from Joseph Smith:

– We came into this world that we might receive a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom.
– The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.
– All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 4 – The Spirit and The Body’

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 3 – Creation and Procreation

The third of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter three of Eternal Man is ‘Creation and Procreation’. Madsen begins by providing a poetic writing by Joseph Smith:

And I heard a great voice bearing record from Heav’n,
He’s the Saviour, and Only Begotten of God-
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that career in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons,
By the very same truths, and the very same pow’rs.

Madsen then asks – ‘But is Divine fatherhood in any sense similar to human fatherhood’? He mentions what he feels is the one important similarity. It is that in both Divine and human fatherhood there is a transmission of traits and attributes. He then offers two anticipated objections to this assertion.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 3 – Creation and Procreation’

Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 2 – Identity or Nothing

The second of a seven part series.  See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Chapter two of ‘Eternal Man’ has to do with the our origins. Joseph Smith taught that man as a primal intelligence is eternal. The spirit-elements that compose man’s Divinely-sired spirit and the matter-elements that compose the body are also eternal. The destiny of these elements are to be inseparably connected throughout eternity.

Continue reading ‘Reviewing ‘Eternal Man’ Part 2 – Identity or Nothing’

Patriarchal Blessings and the Foreknowledge of God

 Many members of the church seem to have a contradiction in their beliefs and attitudes when it comes to patriarchal blessings and the foreknowledge of God.

Continue reading ‘Patriarchal Blessings and the Foreknowledge of God’

Brain Plasticity, Change, and Repentance

An interesting and recent development in the study of the human mind is known as brain plasticity. There is a fairly good wiki page on it here.

Continue reading ‘Brain Plasticity, Change, and Repentance’

Eternal Progression

I was able to teach lesson 17 from the Joseph Smith manual to the Elder’s Quorum today. This lesson included the pre mortal existence, and the famous ring analogy of Joseph Smith. Preparing, giving, and reflecting on the lesson has brought some thoughts to mind. I have been questioning how something can be both eternal and progressing. (This was not part of the lesson.)

Continue reading ‘Eternal Progression’


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