Even though we do not profess these beliefs, I find that Elder Talmage√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs perspective on eternal increase is the only system that makes since to my mind. From the first edition of the Articles of Faith, Elder Talmage declared:
√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√??It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the Kingdom of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√?¬Ě James E. Talmage, √?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√??Lecture XII, Religious Liberty and Toleration,√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√?¬Ě pp. 420-421 as cited in The Essential James E. Talmage, ed. James P. Harris (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997): 69
Elder Talmage√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs original opinion is in harmony with my own thoughts. Since all children who die before the age of accountability inherit celestial glory, the system presents the following issues: If Adolf Hitler, the most wicked individual I can think of who does not qualify as a Son of Perdition, were to have died at age seven and a half, he would have become an exalted being. Now, if one believes that God is in control of the fates and destines of humanity, this view presents major problems for the principle of agency.
If God simply √?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√??takes√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√?¬Ě children who die before the age of accountability because they are too righteous for this world, then he violates the law of agency. I cannot imagine deity pulling a child into the street in front of a speeding car, simply because the nonaccountable child is too worthy for this wicked world. In fact, if that child is so incredibly advanced spiritually that he or she doesn√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęt need to experience the trials of mortality, wouldn√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęt it be better to leave these incredibly righteous spirits on earth to help the rest of us through our struggles in the telestial realm?
Thus, if God does not violate the law of agency and intentionally take righteous little ones before they reach the age of accountability, then exaltation would become an issue of luck. Hitler was not fortunate enough to die at age 7 and a half. In fact, none of us reading this post were auspicious enough to meet with an accident of fate that would have allowed us to skip the trials of mortality. In my mind, the only acceptable scenario is one of eternal advancement and growth.
Really, I was blessed with an incredibly easy childhood. My righteous parents took me to Church every week, held Family Home evening every Monday night, always paid a full-tithe, etc. I have to wonder however, when I consider the choices made by friends and family members who were not as blessed as I, if I would not have made similar choices along the pathway of sin if I had experienced their history and received their genetic makeup. Of course I would have. I have pondered these theological issues for years, and I believe that the only way the Plan of Salvation works is if all of God√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs children eventually inherit Celestial glory through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Accepting this view of the Plan does not negate the need for repentance and missionary work. My reasons for living the Gospel in the present have nothing to do with a future reward. The closer my life approaches the life of the Savior, the more joy I experience. Hence, I want to become like him as quickly as possible.
To enjoy the sacred Gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest reward we can receive in mortality. I believe that √?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√??men are that they might have joy,√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√?¬Ě and that joy is not possible without the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, missionary work is essential. Obedience is essential. None of us should procrastinate the day of our repentance for sin results in suffering. However, I believe that God loves his children so very much that he wants each of us to eventually become like him. The quality of life God enjoys must be so wonderful that his greatest desire, even his work and his glory, is to provide a way for each of us to live the life he lives. We are the offspring of celestial parents. We are of the race or genos of the Gods. Our Heavenly Father√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs plan is to exalt all of his children.
Some of us take longer to get on board than others, but I believe that eventually everyone gets on board.
√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√??The question of advancement within the great divisions of glory-celestial, terrestrial, and telestial; as also the question of advancement from one sphere of glory to another, remains to be considered. In the revelation from which we have summarized what has been written here (D&C 76), in respect to the different degrees of glory, it is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial- that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser order of glory. We can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√Ę?¬Ęs children along the lines of eternal progression. Whether or not in the great future, full of so many possibilities now hidden from us, they of the lesser glories after education and advancement within those spheres may at last emerge from them and make their way to the higher degrees of glory until at last they attain to the highest, is not revealed in the revelations of God, and any statement made on the subject must partake more or less of the nature of conjecture. But if it be granted that such a thing is possible, they who at the first entered into the celestial glory- having before them the privilege also of eternal progress- have been moving onward, so that the relative distance between them and those who have fought their way up from the lesser glories, may be as great when the latter have come into the degrees of celestial glory in which the righteous at first stood, as it was at the commencement; and thus between them is an impassible gulf which time cannot destroy. Thus: those whose faith and works are such only as to entitle them to inherit a telestial glory, may arrive at last where those whose works in this life were such as to entitle them to entrance into the celestial kingdom- they may arrive were these were, but never where they are. But if it be granted that the chief fact about Intelligences is that they have power to add fact to fact and thus build up knowledge, and through knowledge have wisdom, and thus make progress; and if to such intelligences there is granted eternal life-immortality for in the passing of even a few thousand of millions of years, even if progress be very slow- there will come a time when these intelligences- men and women of even the telestial glory- may become very acceptable characters, and very important personages√?¬Ę√Ę?¬¨√?¬Ě B.H. Roberts, Outlines of Ecclesiastical History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979): 416-417.
Edited by enummaelish, 06 March 2005 - 07:25 AM.