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Benjamin Seeker

Joseph Smith and Multiple Mortal Probations

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What follows is a thesis on the controversial doctrine from the 19th century referred to as multiple mortal probations, which fell out of favor along with Adam-God. This thesis explains a bunch of odd data points and suggests a straightforward explanation for the origin of Adam-God. The sources are quoted from boap.org and the MF0081 "Multiple Mortal Probations: LDS Related Quotes" document found at mormonpolygamydocuments.org.

In the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith began believed in and secretly taught something akin to reincarnation. Michael Quinn documented it as follows:

Quote

By the time of his death in 1844, Joseph Smith had also reversed his prior rejection of the Cabala's doctrine of "transmigration of the souls."  Two of the women Smith secretly married as plural wives in the 1840s said that he privately affirmed reincarnation. Apostle Lorenzo Snow said that "his sister, the late Eliza R. Snow Smith, was a firm believer in the principle of reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from Joseph the Prophet, her husband." Prescendia Huntington Buell (later Kimball) also affirmed her belief in "plural probations," referring to a statement "in confirmation" by her polyandrous husband Joseph Smiths. In the 1840s their polygamous relationship to the Mormon prophet was as secret as his conversion to reincarnation.

These secret teachings coincided with teachings by Joseph that either explicity stated or implied that previously resurrected beings, essentially from a prior earth, could interact with mortals on this earth. Perhaps the clearest example of this is a statement recorded by Nauvoo saint, George Laub. He wrote that Joseph stated, "Now the history of Josephus in Speaking of angels came down and took themselves wives of the daughters of men, See Geneses 6 Chapter 1-2, verses. These ware resurrected Bodies, Violated the Celestial laws."

More significantly, JS' King Follett Sermon suggests that, after the resurrection, each heir to Godhood will eventually serve as a Christ in a mortal probation. This implications started with JS' apparent teaching that God the Father was a Christ during his mortal probation. This is a straight forward interpretation of the standard collated version of the sermon most often circulated, but it's made even clearer by George Laub journal summary. He wrote, "...Jesus Christ spoke in this manner; I do as my Father before me did. Well what did the Father do? Why he went and took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh and had power to lay down his life and to take it up again."

Another George Laub journal entry on JS' Sermon In the Grove seems to confirm that this is how Laub understood it. He recorded, "But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Saviour Says the work that my father did do i also & those are the works he took himself a body & then laid down his life that he might take it up again." However, Laub didn't only understand that the Holy Ghost would serve as a Christ (more on that later), but he also implied that JS' King Follet Sermon taught that all who achieved Godhood would pass through the same. Laub wrote, "For we are to go from glory to glory and as one is raised to a higher, so the next under him may take his degree and so to take the exaltation through the regular channel. When we get to where Jesus is, he will be just as far ahead of us again in exaltation." The standard version of the sermon can be easily interpreted in this fashion. Here is the relevant portion:

Quote

...they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? to inherit the same glory, the same power and the same exaltation, until you ascend the throne of eternal power the same as those who are gone before. What did Jesus do? why I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory, so that Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before; it is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyond the grave.

Apparently, Laub wasn't the only who understood the King Follett Sermon this way. In January of 1846, just over a year and a half after the death of JS, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball ordained each other to act as a savior. They also vicariously ordained Joseph and Hyrum to do the same. Following is the summary of the January 1846 Nauvoo Temple Record from the Multiple Mortal Probations document:

Quote

Brigham Young laid hands on Heber C. Kimball and "Ordained him to the Godhead, and that he would act as the Savior to a world or worlds." This was part of a long prayer. Promised wives, seed without number, be full partaker with Abraham, Isaac., and Jacob. The Godhead was a different blessing from Godhood. (Some received only Godhood.) Heber C. Kimball then did the same to Brigham Young, i.e., ordained him to The Godhead. They in turn did it by proxy for Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Other saints (W.W. Phelps) were blessed to act in Trinities (or Presidencies of worlds).

Given George Laub's explicit summary of the King Follett sermon and the short time between JS' death and these ordinations performed in the Nauvoo period, it seems very likely that the doctrine underlying the ordinations originated with JS. This teaching was perhaps even canonized as, "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" (D&C 132:24, see vs. 22-25). However, the teaching was probably only explicitly taught to a select few. For example, in 1860, Orson Pratt wrote, "I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body offlesh and bones, before he came (to earth and) he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given." Orson Pratt apparently wasn't in on it or hadn't understood it as others had.

JS also gave more info about this path to exaltation, which is that the Holy Ghost, the third member in the Godhead, was going to serve as a Christ. Besides the Laub's record of JS' comment on the Holy Ghost in his summary of the Sermon on the Grove, there is an additional JS comment recorded by Franklin D. Richards in August, 1843, not that long before the King Follett Sermon. Richards wrote, "Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has."

From the above we can imply that JS believed that all Gods had served as Christs, that all heirs of the Celestial kingdom would serve as Christs as part of their progression from exaltation to exaltation, and that the Holy Ghost would also serve as a Christ. Here is where my thesis becomes a bit more speculative. It's my guess that JS believed that heirs of the Celestial Kingdom would not only serve as Christs, but first they would serve as Holy Ghosts. As is common knowledge, the trio of beings who participate in the creation in the temple are Michael, Jehovah, and Elohim, and these possibly represent JS' conception of the Godhead. JS taught many times that Michael stood next to Christ in authority, and he also taught that Elohim was the head of the Gods (i.e. The Father). With this possible equivalency between Micheal and the Holy Ghost in mind and JS' probable belief that all were to serve as Holy Ghosts prior to being Christs, JS likely believed the Nauvoo endowment was a representation of one stage of what each heir of the celestial kingdom was to pass through in their climb up the ladder of exaltation. Adam-God can then be seen as based on JS' teachings and the endowment, with a simple fundamental misunderstanding on the identity of Micheal in the Godhead. Considering the modern Mormon understanding of the titles Jehovah and Elohim didn't develop until long after Brigham Young, it is understandable that he could have developed his own interpretation of Micheal, Jehovah and Elohim. In fact, he attributed his identification of Michael as God the Father to JS' commentary on Daniel and JS' equivalence of Adam, Michael, and the Ancient of Days. The apparent supremacy in Daniel of the Ancient of Days to the "one like unto the Son of Man," who JS interpreted as Christ, makes Brigham's Adam-God doctrine even more understandable.

That's the gist of it. Let the comments, insights, and debate ensue!

Edited by Benjamin Seeker
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Ok so if we are going to be Christs of other worlds then do we have to go through all the suffering Jesus went through in Gethsemane and on the cross? Do we all have to get crucified and possibly multiple times? What I was looking forward to about eternity was the end of suffering.

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3 minutes ago, VideoGameJunkie said:

Ok so if we are going to be Christs of other worlds then do we have to go through all the suffering Jesus went through in Gethsemane and on the cross? Do we all have to get crucified and possibly multiple times? What I was looking forward to about eternity was the end of suffering.

I should clarify that I approach this issue from a historical perspective. In other words I don't believe this theology, and I'm not recommending beliefs or anything along those lines. 

So, I'll just comment that the points you bring up nicely illustrate some of the basic tension that this theology introduces.

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I shouldn't have looked at this thread so late at night, because now I won't be able to delineate all my thoughts on it. This is not a final conclusion by any means, but this strikes me as Joseph Smith trying to get to his next level of understanding and thinking some of his own thoughts on certain things short of getting a definitive revelation on the subject. I don't want to say any blessing or whatever is wrong but these were the early days of the Restoration and I think some of these people wanted to take any new concept they heard and run with it, e.g., stuff like blessing people that they will get translated to Kolob and whatnot. It's kind of like how in our times people will say stuff like, "What if the Holy Ghost is Heavenly Mother?" And we do have to think about possibilities, because eventually it leads to more firm answers, but we needn't think that every thing we think is automatically true.

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That information about Brigham and Heber ordaining each other to the Godhead is crazy stuff.  Thanks for sharing this interesting history.  No wonder they were so arrogant.  

As for multiple lives and multiple mortal experiences, Joseph and the early saints were getting pretty creative and speculative by Nauvoo.  Amazing, some of the stuff they came up with.  Mormonism today is pretty bland by comparison.  

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I've read a couple of interesting books on reincarnation/multiple mortal probations and I actually really like the idea. It "feels" more true to me than most of Christianity's "one and done" model. If learning, progression, and the development of the soul is the reason for life, then I don't see how that is possible with just one life time. There is just too much to experience for once to be enough. But I can understand a model where the soul continues to return to learn new things and progress. Eventually, a soul could achieve relative perfection and rise to the level of becoming a savior for others. That actually seems more admirable to me - that Jesus himself "became" who he was through 1000's of lifetimes of progression and trial and error, just like the rest of us. Just being made perfect from the get-go isn't something special. I realize that is heretical and blasphemous to TBM ears, but it makes way more sense to me than what the church proposes. 

 

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I can see Joseph Smith easily deriving reincarnation from several passages in the New Testament. 

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12 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

What follows is a thesis on the controversial doctrine from the 19th century referred to as multiple mortal probations, which fell out of favor along with Adam-God. This thesis explains a bunch of odd data points and suggests a straightforward explanation for the origin of Adam-God. The sources are quoted from boap.org and the MF0081 "Multiple Mortal Probations: LDS Related Quotes" document found at mormonpolygamydocuments.org.

In the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith began believed in and secretly taught something akin to reincarnation. Michael Quinn documented it as follows:

These secret teachings coincided with teachings by Joseph that either explicity stated or implied that previously resurrected beings, essentially from a prior earth, could interact with mortals on this earth. Perhaps the clearest example of this is a statement recorded by Nauvoo saint, George Laub. He wrote that Joseph stated, "Now the history of Josephus in Speaking of angels came down and took themselves wives of the daughters of men, See Geneses 6 Chapter 1-2, verses. These ware resurrected Bodies, Violated the Celestial laws."

More significantly, JS' King Follett Sermon suggests that, after the resurrection, each heir to Godhood will eventually serve as a Christ in a mortal probation. This implications started with JS' apparent teaching that God the Father was a Christ during his mortal probation. This is a straight forward interpretation of the standard collated version of the sermon most often circulated, but it's made even clearer by George Laub journal summary. He wrote, "...Jesus Christ spoke in this manner; I do as my Father before me did. Well what did the Father do? Why he went and took a body and went to redeem a world in the flesh and had power to lay down his life and to take it up again."

Another George Laub journal entry on JS' Sermon In the Grove seems to confirm that this is how Laub understood it. He recorded, "But the holy ghost is yet a Spiritual body and waiting to take to himself a body as the Savior did or as god did or the gods before them took bodies for the Saviour Says the work that my father did do i also & those are the works he took himself a body & then laid down his life that he might take it up again." However, Laub didn't only understand that the Holy Ghost would serve as a Christ (more on that later), but he also implied that JS' King Follet Sermon taught that all who achieved Godhood would pass through the same. Laub wrote, "For we are to go from glory to glory and as one is raised to a higher, so the next under him may take his degree and so to take the exaltation through the regular channel. When we get to where Jesus is, he will be just as far ahead of us again in exaltation." The standard version of the sermon can be easily interpreted in this fashion. Here is the relevant portion:

Apparently, Laub wasn't the only who understood the King Follett Sermon this way. In January of 1846, just over a year and a half after the death of JS, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball ordained each other to act as a savior. They also vicariously ordained Joseph and Hyrum to do the same. Following is the summary of the January 1846 Nauvoo Temple Record from the Multiple Mortal Probations document:

Given George Laub's explicit summary of the King Follett sermon and the short time between JS' death and these ordinations performed in the Nauvoo period, it seems very likely that the doctrine underlying the ordinations originated with JS. This teaching was perhaps even canonized as, "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" (D&C 132:24, see vs. 22-25). However, the teaching was probably only explicitly taught to a select few. For example, in 1860, Orson Pratt wrote, "I heard brother Young say that Jesus had a body offlesh and bones, before he came (to earth and) he was born of the Virgin Mary, it was so contrary to every revelation given." Orson Pratt apparently wasn't in on it or hadn't understood it as others had.

JS also gave more info about this path to exaltation, which is that the Holy Ghost, the third member in the Godhead, was going to serve as a Christ. Besides the Laub's record of JS' comment on the Holy Ghost in his summary of the Sermon on the Grove, there is an additional JS comment recorded by Franklin D. Richards in August, 1843, not that long before the King Follett Sermon. Richards wrote, "Joseph also said that the Holy Ghost is now in a state of Probation which if he should perform in righteousness he may pass through the same or a similar course of things that the Son has."

From the above we can imply that JS believed that all Gods had served as Christs, that all heirs of the Celestial kingdom would serve as Christs as part of their progression from exaltation to exaltation, and that the Holy Ghost would also serve as a Christ. Here is where my thesis becomes a bit more speculative. It's my guess that JS believed that heirs of the Celestial Kingdom would not only serve as Christs, but first they would serve as Holy Ghosts. As is common knowledge, the trio of beings who participate in the creation in the temple are Michael, Jehovah, and Elohim, and these possibly represent JS' conception of the Godhead. JS taught many times that Michael stood next to Christ in authority, and he also taught that Elohim was the head of the Gods (i.e. The Father). With this possible equivalency between Micheal and the Holy Ghost in mind and JS' probable belief that all were to serve as Holy Ghosts prior to being Christs, JS likely believed the Nauvoo endowment was a representation of one stage of what each heir of the celestial kingdom was to pass through in their climb up the ladder of exaltation. Adam-God can then be seen as based on JS' teachings and the endowment, with a simple fundamental misunderstanding on the identity of Micheal in the Godhead. Considering the modern Mormon understanding of the titles Jehovah and Elohim didn't develop until long after Brigham Young, it is understandable that he could have developed his own interpretation of Micheal, Jehovah and Elohim. In fact, he attributed his identification of Michael as God the Father to JS' commentary on Daniel and JS' equivalence of Adam, Michael, and the Ancient of Days. The apparent supremacy in Daniel of the Ancient of Days to the "one like unto the Son of Man," who JS interpreted as Christ, makes Brigham's Adam-God doctrine even more understandable.

That's the gist of it. Let the comments, insights, and debate ensue!

I thought I had reached the bottom of the rabbit hole...I guess it goes deeper still.

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 The "True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days" down in Manti headed by James Harmstrom (who died in 2013), teaches or taught this doctrine along with plural marriage. Not sure if that group is still active anymore.

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17 minutes ago, Black Moclips said:

I've read a couple of interesting books on reincarnation/multiple mortal probations and I actually really like the idea. It "feels" more true to me than most of Christianity's "one and done" model. If learning, progression, and the development of the soul is the reason for life, then I don't see how that is possible with just one life time. There is just too much to experience for once to be enough. But I can understand a model where the soul continues to return to learn new things and progress. Eventually, a soul could achieve relative perfection and rise to the level of becoming a savior for others. That actually seems more admirable to me - that Jesus himself "became" who he was through 1000's of lifetimes of progression and trial and error, just like the rest of us. Just being made perfect from the get-go isn't something special. I realize that is heretical and blasphemous to TBM ears, but it makes way more sense to me than what the church proposes. 

 

My niece is a Medium, and she mentioned something like this happening when we go to the other side. 

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I'm not going to do anything drastic, but, goodness gracious!  The thrill is gone.  Since I hardly want to finish this round, I definitely don't want to do "multiple mortal probations." Once this one is done, I will be satisfied with whatever modest reward it qualifies me for.

P.S.:  And one lifetime is more than enough, if that lifetime lasts for eternity! ;) 

Edited by Kenngo1969

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13 minutes ago, Johnnie Cake said:

I thought I had reached the bottom of the rabbit hole...I guess it goes deeper still.

"...when brother Pratt went back last fall, and published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives; it was thought there was no other cat to let out.  But allow me to tell you ... you may expect an eternity of cats, that have not yet escaped from the bag ..." BRIGHAM YOUNG, 1853

:)

Edited by Benjamin Seeker

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Just now, Kenngo1969 said:

I'm not going to do anything drastic, but, goodness gracious!  The thrill is gone.  Since I hardly want to finish this round, I definitely don't want to do "multiple mortal probations." Once this one is done, I will be satisfied with whatever modest reward it qualifies me for.

Just think of the fun rides in life one could take though Ken! As long as I don't come back as a cockroach or some kind of insect. 

Oh, and another thing, so many on this board have mentioned how attaining Godhood is much better than living as angels and playing harps in the clouds doing nothing. 

Maybe Shirly Mclaine was right. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/shirley-maclaine-tells-film-set-stories-line-article-1.2545803

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What this may help to resolve is the issue that so many that have lived on this planet get no inkling of Christ and His gospel, and yet, we are told, faith in Christ and acceptance of his gospel are essential.  If mortal probations, then individuals get better opportunity.  As it is now, one could easily conclude God respects persons, because some of us clearly get benefits others never had. 

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Despite the comments and quoted references that say Joseph taught reincarnation, I do not see any of his doctrine that teaches it.  It looks to me like they just misunderstood what Joseph was teaching.

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36 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

"...when brother Pratt went back last fall, and published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives; it was thought there was no other cat to let out.  But allow me to tell you ... you may expect an eternity of cats, that have not yet escaped from the bag ..." BRIGHAM YOUNG, 1853

:)

I thought it was supposed to be turtles all the way down?  I like cats better. :lol:

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13 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Despite the comments and quoted references that say Joseph taught reincarnation, I do not see any of his doctrine that teaches it.  It looks to me like they just misunderstood what Joseph was teaching.

Seems to me that there is as much evidence for this reincarnation doctrine as there is for the Heavenly Mother doctrine. 

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22 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Despite the comments and quoted references that say Joseph taught reincarnation, I do not see any of his doctrine that teaches it.  It looks to me like they just misunderstood what Joseph was teaching.

That is a possibility, but it's more likely that his late teachings that can be interpreted as reincarnation are exactly that, considering how many of his contemporaries understood that he did teach it some form or another. D&C 132:22-25 can easily be interpreted that way:

Quote

22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

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.

Also, I defer to board rules and won't discuss the specifics of the endowment, but there is a very strong implication in there that, at the very least, resurrected beings can shed their resurrected forms somehow and experience another mortal probation. This implication is emphasized by JS' teachings on identifying angels vs. evil spirits (found in D&C), which he taught on multiple occasions, maybe 5 or 6 times, before and after the Nauvoo endowment had been administered. This idea lines up nicely with JS' late teaching that the Sons of God who married the daughters of men in Genesis were resurrected beings who violated celestial laws (see quotation in OP), and, of course, it all lines up with JS' teachings about exaltation to exaltation in his comments about the Holy Ghost and God the Father in the King Follett Sermon, Sermon on the Grove, and other Nauvoo era comments.

Also, I didn't mention it in the OP, but I believe Michael Quinn documents an influential relationship between JS and Alexander Neibaur, who was a convert from Jewish Cabala and who related reincarnation-like Cabala sourced ideas in a couple of Times and Seasons articles during the Nauvoo era.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker

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D&C 88:31-31

"And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place [the telestial kingdom where they now live], to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received."

Some say this scripture suggests that a person might be able to leave the telestial glory experience another life on earth and then return to the telestial glory. 

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20 minutes ago, JAHS said:

D&C 88:31-31

"And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place [the telestial kingdom where they now live], to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received."

Some say this scripture suggests that a person might be able to leave the telestial glory experience another life on earth and then return to the telestial glory. 

Interesting, interpretation. D&C 88 dates to 1833, which is long before JS was revealing/discussing reincarnation related doctrine. Given that the content of JS' revelations usually coincide with questions and subjects he is interested in at the time, my best guess is that this interpretation of 88 is probably a stretch. D&C 132 on the other hand was dictated in 1843, prime time for this topic.

Edited by Benjamin Seeker

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14 hours ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

What follows is a thesis on the controversial doctrine from the 19th century referred to as multiple mortal probations, which fell out of favor along with Adam-God. This thesis explains a bunch of odd data points and suggests a straightforward explanation for the origin of Adam-God. The sources are quoted from boap.org and the MF0081 "Multiple Mortal Probations: LDS Related Quotes" document found at mormonpolygamydocuments.org.

Do you have a direct link? I couldn't find it. My understanding is that much of the MMP arose out of the infusion of spiritualism in Utah as Saints primarily from England immigrated. (There were for a while more Mormons in England than Utah) It's true that several apostles believed in such matters and you're right that they fell out of favor in the early 20th century. Although we probably should distinguish between MMP as a doctrine of reincarnation for the telestial kingdom from MMP as part of Adam God (the idea of a progression from mortal, to Christ, to Father, to falling as Adam, to return to Father).

Quote

More significantly, JS' King Follett Sermon suggests that, after the resurrection, each heir to Godhood will eventually serve as a Christ in a mortal probation. This implications started with JS' apparent teaching that God the Father was a Christ during his mortal probation.

That seems a bit of a stretch. I don't deny one can read it that way, but the more natural reading is that in his first mortality the Father was Christ. And as the head of our creation under the Father, it is Jesus who will be head in the next creation the way the father is. That is, I think the text is inherently ambiguous there. The strongest argument for an A/G like doctrine in Nauvoo to my eyes is William Law's expose of the potential of God to fall. Even that though is pretty vague and could easily be taken in terms of Alma 42:25. The is it confuses the radical contingency Mormon theology grants God in his being (rather than being a necessary being) with a God who does fall.

I don't think the Laub quote you give suggests Laub read the KFD in terms of MMP either. At best it just means the Holy Ghost doesn't have a body and will one day, will die, and will be resurrected.

Likewise the use of the term "savior" is more vague than I think you are using it. When I hear the term applied to people other than Jesus I immediately think of Mosiah 15 and not MMP. i.e. we are saviors in a derived sense in which we preach the gospel. Now of course I think Brigham came to understand it the way you suggest. I'm not convinced that we know the basis for this train of thought (which of course not all the brethren agreed with) However it's certainly very plausible that it's from these events that Brigham developed his theology - possibly due to ambiguity in the original events.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

Also, I didn't mention it in the OP, but I believe Michael Quinn documents an influential relationship between JS and Alexander Neibaur, who was a convert from Jewish Cabala and who related reincarnation-like Cabala sourced ideas in a couple of Times and Seasons articles during the Nauvoo era.

One should note that reincarnation in Kabbalism isn't reincarnation of a full person but is more akin to Platonic notions. That is there is a certain form that Elijah participates in as part of being a person. (And there are multiple forms - the form of being human, the form of being Jewish, the form of being a prophet, etc. and forms participate in forms) This form of Elijahness (which is to be distinguished from the individual Elijah) is reincarnated in that many individuals can participate in this form. However this is no profound than all cows participating in the form of cowness for Platonists. Kabbalism, especially the sort in 12th century Spain that produced the Zohar and so forth is a thoroughgoing Platonic conception of Judaism.

Now of course the argument of various forms of platonism in early Mormonism typically comes with it the claim that Joseph is misreading platonism. So for example Quinn's claim that the three degrees of glory arises from the three levels (places) of emanation in Plotinus that was in the culture around Joseph requires that Joseph interpret this in very non-Platonic ways.

Likewise those who want Kabbalistic influence on Joseph (which I personally find pretty dubious - we don't know the extent of Neibaur's actual knowledge of Kabbalah or Kabbalistic texts) simultaneously require a misreading of these texts. That is they aren't to be taken mystically or platonically but in a materialist/historicist kind of 'literalism.' Further because the arguments depend upon misreadings and often lack explicit texts its pretty circumstantial arguments at their strongest. It's very hard, if not impossible, to establish causation.

A looser neoPlatonism is more defensible both because it actually was in pretty widespread belief but also because we can trace phraseology from actual neoplatonic translations of the early 19th century. However we have to then deal with the problem of Joseph being well versed on such matters yet somehow not getting the whole point of these texts.

Edited by clarkgoble

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49 minutes ago, JAHS said:

D&C 88:31-31

"And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place [the telestial kingdom where they now live], to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received."

Some say this scripture suggests that a person might be able to leave the telestial glory experience another life on earth and then return to the telestial glory. 

Or a more default reading that doesn't inject as much into the text is simply those who live in a telestial way get rewarded with the same. That is a place of their glory or what they're willing to accept. Taking it as implying a loss of resurrection, a new fall, and a new veil of forgetfulness of course isn't in the text. If they are returned then effectively this reading is denying they are resurrected at all.

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34 minutes ago, Benjamin Seeker said:

 

54 minutes ago, JAHS said:

D&C 88:31-31

"And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place [the telestial kingdom where they now live], to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received."

Some say this scripture suggests that a person might be able to leave the telestial glory experience another life on earth and then return to the telestial glory. 

Interesting, interpretation. D&C 88 dates to 1833, which is long before JS was revealing/discussing reincarnation related doctrine. Given that the content of JS' revelations usually coincide with questions and subjects he is interested in at the time, my best guess is that this interpretation of 88 is probably a stretch. D&C 132 on the other hand was dictated in 1843, prime time for this topic.

Edited 28 minutes ago by Benjamin Seeker

 

Here's another one from the New Testament people use to support reincarnation:
John 9:2
"And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Without a previous life, how could the blind man commit a sin responsible for his handicap, as the man was blind from birth? 
We often use this scripture to support the concept of a pre-mortal life, but we would have to assume that it is possible to commit a sin while there in a spirit state.

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