There are many things about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that differ from some of the more mainstream Christian denominations. One of these deals with the details of post-mortal life, and a belief Latter-day Saints hold known as eternal progression.
Let’s start with a scripture. This one’s coming from Corinthians. One thing the Corinthians did not quite understand was the resurrection. Paul goes into a bit of detail explaining this doctrine.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrialis another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:40-42)
Here, Paul is talking about the conditions of resurrected bodies. If you’re at all familiar with Mormon doctrine, you may be aware of the fact that we don’t simply believe we’ll all end up in either Heaven or Hell. Indeed, there is a Heaven and there is a Hell. But it goes much deeper than that. Heaven is divided into three kingdoms: the celestial, the terrestrial, and the telestial. For more detailed information on what I’m about to present, go to mormon.org (there’s a link on the right side of the page). All of this information has been given to us through modern revelation, through modern-day prophets.
The celestial kingdom is reserved for the valiant souls of men. Those that obeyed Christ’s gospel, were baptized and received other necessary ordinances (which everyone will get a chance to receive, whether in this life or the next), and repented of their sins while enduring to the end. Husband and wife, and their families, can remain together for eternity in the presence of God and Jesus Christ. Eternal happiness and progression are their rewards.
The terrestrial is for those who lived good lives, but rejected Christ. And also those that did accept Christ, but were not valiant. They did not strive to obey Christ’s gospel, they were not sincere in their repentance, etc. They will receive Christ’s glory, but not God the Father’s. It will be a wonderful place, full of goodness, but they will be lacking the full happiness that comes from eternal families, remaining married to their spouse, and living with God. It will be like having to settle with a B on a test when they could’ve achieved an A.
The telestial kingdom is for the wicked souls of men. Murderers, thieves and robbers, adulterers, liars, etc. These are the ones who continued in their sins without repentance. They will be shut out from God and Jesus Christ’s presence and glory forever. It will be a good place though. Satan will be bound, and they will have peace and rest. But they will never be in God’s presence. It’ll be like the world is now, only without temptation, illness, war, etc. It’s like settling for a C or a D on the test when they could’ve had an A or even a B.
Hell, or Outer Darkness, as many members of The Church call it, is reserved for Satan and his fallen angels, and all those that lived too wickedly to even abide a telestial glory. Cain and Judas Iscariot are two that we know of. They will be cast out to a place that no mortal mind can comprehend.
If all this seems crazy… that’s okay. It’s certainly very different than what mainstream Christianity professes today. But it is true doctrine. It was preached in Christ’s primitive church. It is nothing new. It is simply doctrine that was lost that has been restored
Think of the traditional view of heaven. Great billowy clouds in the middle of… somewhere. People in white robes playing harps and singing and… playing more harps and singing… on clouds… or something. It all seems rather stagnant, plain, and without growth. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that God is a progressive God. He wants us to learn and grow and actually achieve something great. Just as a father (as He is to us) wants his children to grow up and be like him, God wants us to be like Him. And He has given us a way!
Only in the celestial kingdom is continued progression possible, where we can grow to be like our Father in Heaven. Such is His purpose, to have us progress and grow and learn. I make the point again; isn’t that what any loving father would want for his children? Of course! God’s work and His glory is the immortality and eternal life of man. I know this to be true. If you still have not looked at mormon.org, I again invite you to do so.