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Joseph Smith and Multiple Mortal Probations


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On 3/21/2017 at 3:42 PM, Black Moclips said:

In cleaning out some folders, I found something I wrote and posted on a board long ago. It might of been ZLMB, or here or the place that shall not be named. Anyway, I thought it was kind of funny. 

I actually really like the idea of reincarnation. I think there is something too it, and you catch catch tidbits of it from some quotations from early church leaders. Of course it isn't taught today, but that doesn't make it untrue. In Mormon speak it would be termed "multiple mortal probations" and it seems like a much more effective learning process than having one shot at mortality. I sometimes imagine two spirits in the spirit world talking:

"So where did you live?"

"Oh, I was 440 AD, in Asia. I only made it to like 15 years old though. Attila the Hun slaughtered our town."

"Really? That's too bad. I know how you feel though, I only made it to age 10 myself, but was sacrificed by the local priest. Mesoamerica, 700AD."

"Sorry to hear that. Yeah, this life thing was pretty random. Remember all that talk about God and Jesus and stuff before we left, learning to obey them, gaining experience, learning the gospel?"

"Yeah, I remember. But I never heard any of that stuff. My life was pretty short and horrible, you know what I mean?"

"Same here. I never got to do any of the things I wanted to do before we left."

"But I was talking to some of those missionaries that keep walking around. They say we can go to the CK if we accept the ordinances of the church." 

"I heard about that too. But holy crap thats gonna be a long wait. It will be forever until they get to our names"

"Ha ha. We should be considered lucky. See that dude over there? Tower of babel era. Waaaay back in time."

"See that group of people over there? I wonder why they are always so happy?

"I was thinking that myself and went over and talked to them the other day. Turns out, they get a free pass. Straight to the CK."

"What? How did they swing that?

"They all died as children. They don't have to wait."

"Really?"

"Yep. I'm sort of pissed. I missed out by like a year and half. I sort of wish the priest in our village would have picked me sooner. I might of had a free pass myself."

 "Yeah, that sucks. So you think you are ready for the CK? You think you learned enough on earth for that?"

"You know, its kind of weird. When I think on what I learned, I'm not sure it translates into CK material. All I really did was work, look for food, and try to stay alive. I'm not sure what the point of going down was, other than I needed to get body."

"Same here. Like I said before, I didn't know anything about real the real God. We worshipped nature or something like that. It seemed reasonable at the time, but we never knew why these Gods seems mad all the time, cursing our weather and such. Seems a little foolish now thinking back."

Easily handled.

Time is not the same there as here, and they can continue their progression without the ordinances until the millenium when they come back and just tell someone "Hey- could you get this done for me- I am ready to go!"

No just God would let them hang out waiting for us stupid mortals to get our acts together- it's not just to have our progression delayed because of someone else.

I don't care what has been said- anything else does not make sense.  I believe that time is phenomenologically non-linear- heck I can go back in time to when I was a kid through memories anytime I want to.   Imagine perfect knowledge of your past and future life with them all "present" - you ARE "whenever" you want/need to be instantly.  That's one way to see it, there are infinite variations on that

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9 hours ago, Alaris said:

I see that Janderich has chimed in on this topic here as well as LDSfreedomforum. I was googling MMP to get some other LDS perspectives and found this thread. Here is a recent article I wrote about a month ago which stirred up much cognitive dissonance on LDSFF.

http://lordoftheseraphim.blogspot.com/2017/12/mutiple-mortal-probations.html

Excellent article.  I bookmarked it.

Here is the first part of a five-part article on the subject that you might find interesting: 

http://www.freeread.com/22520/

7 hours ago, Alaris said:

Here are some good questions along these lines of thinking:

Would you want to settle down in your eternal throne having never shown the greatest love by the greatest work of love?

Should you receive all the Father hath without descending below all?

I get the impression that many LDS believe exaltation and at some point godhood can be bestowed as honorary degrees, and think or hope they won't be required to actually earn them.  An honorary medical degree comes to mind... it's all well and good as long as nobody expects you to have the skills of one who earned the degree. 

Edited by Eek!
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On 2/28/2017 at 12:31 PM, 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.

Does anybody know if this idea of multiple mortal probations is found in any other Christian context? Wondering because I've found an interesting reference from the 18th century. Will dig it out of my notes if anyone is interested.

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14 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Does anybody know if this idea of multiple mortal probations is found in any other Christian context? Wondering because I've found an interesting reference from the 18th century. Will dig it out of my notes if anyone is interested.

I am interested.   By chance, does it have anything to do with John the Baptist? 

Edited by Eek!
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16 hours ago, Eek! said:

I am interested.   By chance, does it have anything to do with John the Baptist? 

In 1786, a guy named John Zephaniah Holwell published a tract called "Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence". I recommend it to anybody curious about the ideas of a premortal existence, war in heaven, plan of salvation, opposition in all things, infant baptism, free agency, multiple mortal probations, etc.

Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence

But more interesting, a few decades previous to publishing this essay, JZ Holwell claimed to have discovered and translated a number of ancient Indian scriptures that he presented as an older and better Old Testament, useful for correcting the theological errors of the numerous Christian sects. Holwell spent 18 months translating these Indian scriptures, but lost them. Only through an 'extraordinary event' was he later able to recover and publish a part of them. 

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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3 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

In 1786, a guy named John Zephaniah Holwell published a tract called "Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence". I recommend it to anybody curious about the ideas of a premortal existence, war in heaven, plan of salvation, opposition in all things, infant baptism, free agency, multiple mortal probations, etc.

Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence

 

He seems to be discussing the more Enochean view where fallen angels came to earth - and we are the fallen angels. This is part of the mystic tradition in Judaism that then became part of the more esoteric tradition in Renaissance thought. The Kabbalistic notion is a bit trickier than Holwell suggests as they are outright platonists. Thus they are talking about forms. Just like two cows both participate in the form of cowness, so do souls can be part of multiple people. So for a Kabbalist when they talk about the spirit of Elijah resting on a person it's literally this platonic form that's part of their identity as a particular person. Their teaching included not just fallen angels reincarnated (in this platonic sense) but also people from before the flood reincarnating as various types of evil or at least bad people. This then gets tied to astrology since within particular theurgical platonism the stars/planets are intelligent beings and they affect individuals because those people participate in the intelligent platonic forms the planets are.

The ideas he relates were also heavily discussed by the Cambridge Platonists in the 18th century, particularly as they dealt with Plato's The Statesman and The Timaeus. 

Edited by clarkgoble
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12 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

The ideas he relates were also heavily discussed by the Cambridge Platonists in the 18th century, particularly as they dealt with Plato's The Statesman and The Timaeus. 

Holwell was also influenced by Chevalier Ramsay and Jacob Ilive (Book of Jasher), in the same circles as Jane Leade and others in the Philadelphian Society. 

Good book right here:
The Birth of Orientalism

 

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4 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

In 1786, a guy named John Zephaniah Holwell published a tract called "Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence". I recommend it to anybody curious about the ideas of a premortal existence, war in heaven, plan of salvation, opposition in all things, infant baptism, free agency, multiple mortal probations, etc.

Dissertation on the Origin of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence 

Thank you.  Muft admit I ftumble over the text fomewhat. 

Can you easily summarize what the author says about multiple mortal probations?  If not, no problem. 

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10 hours ago, Eek! said:

Thank you.  Muft admit I ftumble over the text fomewhat. 

Can you easily summarize what the author says about multiple mortal probations?  If not, no problem. 

Yef, of courfe.

As Clark mentioned, Holwell's ideas come from a school of thought that emerged in the 18th century as Christianity extended its influence beyond Europe, into Asia and America. Three important personalities in this New Orientalism were Chevalier Ramsay, Jacob Ilive and JZ Holwell. There is a lot of material to cover between the three, but here is one excerpt on Ilive and Holwell from The Birth of Orientalism:

"Ilive’s creation story begins long before Adam enjoyed paradise. “Many years, as we compute Time, before the Creation of Man,” God “thought fit to reveal the Eternal Word, his Equal, unto the Angels”. While two thirds of them “were chanting forth their Halleluja’s,” another third were “seized with Anger and Pride” and rebelled. Soon there was war in heaven, and the rebels were cast “into this very Globe . . . which we now inhabit, before its Formation out of Chaos”. At that time the earth was just a “Place of Darkness, and great Confusion, a rude Wilderness, an indigested Lump of Matter.” The matter “out of which this World was formed, was prae-existent to the Formation of the Earth, and to the Creation of Man,” and this dark chaotic world “was a Dungeon for the Punishment of the Lapsed Angels, and the Place of their Residence”. After about 6,000 years of such confinement in chaos, “God began the Formation of the World” as we know it. Whereas for Milton this formation of the second world was designed to repopulate heaven by giving men on earth the chance to join the diminished number of good angels in heaven, Ilive regarded it as an act of divine compassion with the aim of giving the banished angels a chance for rehabilitation. Our planet earth, therefore, is, as it were, a rehabilitation center for rebel angels, and the bodies of men are “little Places of Confinement for the Reception of the apostate Angels” within this gigantic facility. Contrary to Holwell’s assertion, transmigration is clearly part of Ilive’s design since rehabilitation and purification can take a very long time: “The Reader is desired to observe, that I suppose the Revolutions of these Angels in Bodies, and that they may have actuated or assumed Bodies many times since the Creation, in order for their Punishment, Probation and Reconciliation....Regaining their original status and returning home, however, possibly necessitated an almost endless sequence of transmigrations."

Its important to mention that both Ilive and Holwell claimed to have discovered and translated ancient texts in support of their reforms. Ilive translated the Book of Jasher, which was republished the year before the Book of Mormon, and Holwell spent 18 months translating (East) Indian scriptures that he later lost. IMO, the Book of Mormon has an important place within this reform movement and the author/translator intended the setting to be the New World as discovered by Columbus and as it was known in the 18th century, from the East Indies extending through America to the West Indies. Or more simply, the islands of the sea, believed to be inhabited by Israelites, just as Jacob states in 2nd Nephi.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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On 1/31/2018 at 11:49 PM, clarkgoble said:

He seems to be discussing the more Enochean view where fallen angels came to earth - and we are the fallen angels. This is part of the mystic tradition in Judaism that then became part of the more esoteric tradition in Renaissance thought. The Kabbalistic notion is a bit trickier than Holwell suggests as they are outright platonists.

Holwell goes into detail, even describing a plan designed in a premortal state to assure that all rebellious souls could "enter mortal bodies" that are divided into tribes and kinds according to their level of rebelliousness so that they may descend to earth in a state of "trial and probation" passing through different levels "until by their repentance and perseverance in good works they shall "work out their own salvation" and by grace and mercy are purified from their sin and are restored to their state, and admitted into the presence of the Eternal One. And once this plan was set in motion The Eternal One delegated his authority to Jesus to carry it out, and after five thousand years The Eternal One returns to his throne in all his glory to ask Jesus to report on his mission among the mortals on Earth.

"And Birmah (Jesus) stood before the throne and said, Eternal One, I have done as thou hast commanded -- the delinquent Debtah (angels) rejoice in thy mercy, confess the justice of thy decrees, avow their sorrow and repentance, and have entered into the mortal bodies which thou hast prepared for them".

This doesn't sound like typical Enochian or renaissance thought. It sounds like the Plan of Salvation, in a set of Hindu scriptures supposedly translated by a British Diplomat in 1767.

https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=nf0RAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA59

Is there anything comparable in mystic Judaism or Kabbalism? Could you point me to some references? 

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Well obviously Jesus isn't part of it but yeah the Kabbalistic gilgul is pretty similar. All hasidic Jews believe this. Angels are treated differently though. 

The origin for both your quote and the influence in Judaism is the same - pythagorean and neoplatonic influence.

 

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14479-transmigration-of-souls

Edited by clarkgoble
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9 hours ago, clarkgoble said:

Well obviously Jesus isn't part of it but yeah the Kabbalistic gilgul is pretty similar. All hasidic Jews believe this. Angels are treated differently though. 

The origin for both your quote and the influence in Judaism is the same - pythagorean and neoplatonic influence.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14479-transmigration-of-souls

Where does the Mormon Plan of Salvation come from: Egypt or Kabbala? Mormons of course would claim that the plan predates all those influences. And that is what Holwell is claiming, in his translation of Indian texts that supposedly predate Pythagorus and Plato.

But all that aside, do you see similarities between Holwell's translation of Indian texts and the Mormon Plan of Salvation?

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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2 hours ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Where does the Mormon Plan of Salvation come from: Egypt or Kabbala? Mormons of course would claim that the plan predates all those influences. And that is what Holwell is claiming, in his translation of Indian texts that supposedly predate Pythagorus and Plato.

But all that aside, do you see similarities between Holwell's translation of Indian texts and the Mormon Plan of Salvation?

Yes, there are certainly strong similarities. Which is interesting since the plan of salvation developed over decades.

The Hymn of the Pearl has really interesting parallels as well. 

As for where the plan comes from, hopefully it's a reasonably accurate if vague description of what happened and will appear in many cultures.

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/27/2017 at 10:31 PM, Benjamin Seeker said:

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."

You are entirely taking that out of context.  The only thing this journal entry suggests is the possibility that the Father was the Elder Brother on his earth who laid down his life for the rest of the humans on that world as the Savior of that world.  It does not imply at all that the Father had already lived in another body prior to that.  Furthermore, this is only one of the possibilities, that the Father was a Savior on an earth.  Brigham Young did not teach this doctrine, but seemed to teach that the Father was a different person than the Elder Brother.  There is no justification for your reading reincarnation into this at all.

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On 3/1/2017 at 12:48 PM, Benjamin Seeker said:

I already did the digging on George Laub's journal. His accounts of JS' Nauvoo sermons date to Jan. 1 1845. https://byustudies.byu.edu/file/4643/download?token=NSejRNxt

Let's just keep in mind the 10+ year difference between JST genesis and these comments. It would be interesting to find out if Enoch 1 had influenced JS or Laub.  

I find that interpretation very plausible, given the wording Robinson wrote down. What he gets out of it should inform our analysis though. Obviously, for some reason or other, MMP is in the air.

The clear context Robinson's wording seems to indicate that he is substituting the word "probation" for what we normally in the Church refer to as "estate."  He suggests that there is marriage in pre-existence, but he is not suggesting that there is another earth life where we get another body before this one.  The first probation he refers to is what we normally call "first estate."  And clearly we were tested there to see whether we would choose God or Satan, so it can be called a "probation," meaning a testing time to see what we will do.  There is nothing in Robinson's account that suggests that it was intended to be understood that there was a previous mortal existence where someone had a previous body.

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On 3/2/2017 at 4:25 PM, Benjamin Seeker said:

I realize that Heber also subscribed to Adam-God doctrine, however I didn't want to address that here because though we have evidence for JS believing and teaching some version of reincarnation and MMP, we don't have good evidence suggesting he subscribed to the idea that Adam was God the Father, while we do have strong evidence suggesting that he believed Adam was next in authority to Jesus Christ. That being said, Brigham Young did state on at least two occasions that Adam-God doctrine was from Joseph, and significantly, Adam-God doctrine inherently includes a version of MMP.  

Similar to Robinson's account of "two probations," the quotations from Heber C. Kimball indicate a use of the word probation as we would normally use "estate."  And when he suggests that people would be thrown back into the grinder so to speak to be ground up and be reshaped into vessels of honor, he is clearly referring to hell after death before resurrection in spirit prison, and suggests that this hell can be considered another "estate" or "probation" so to speak, where people can be reshaped and reformed by repentance.  The Bible suggests this as well, stating that people must pay their debt to justice until the utmost farthing (Matthew 5:26).  Spirit prison can be a place of refinement to make vessels of honor out of the wicked.  This is the context of Heber C. Kimball's statements.  He is not suggesting that someone is entering into a new mortality.

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To the topic only...yeah..and why was this man fore ordained as a prophet?  Faith as faith is should still have nothing to do with so many weaknesses.  After all these years..I still do not know that in a restoration of said gospel..why Joseph Smith was a chosen one.

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45 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

To the topic only...yeah..and why was this man fore ordained as a prophet?  Faith as faith is should still have nothing to do with so many weaknesses.  After all these years..I still do not know that in a restoration of said gospel..why Joseph Smith was a chosen one.

This is just going to be my opinion.

The concept of multiple mortal probations offers the possibility that this was not Joseph's first rodeo.   It also offers the possibility of God's promises coming true in a future life if they don't come true in this one.  For example, in D&C 132 verse 55, Joseph is promised "an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children..."   Obviously that did not happen in that lifetime, but it clearly says "in this world", so it's not talking about some afterlife world.   Likewise, a promise made in a patriarchal blessing could be fulfilled in a future mortal life. 

There is a possibility that John the Baptist may have been the reincarnation of Elijah, I can dig that up if you'd like. 

Just as the LDS teaching of the gospel being taken to the "spirits in prison" addresses the issue of whether those who died without baptism go to hell or not (the Christian world has no such teaching so their God is incredibly unjust to those who never heard of Jesus), likewise multiple mortal probations opens up the possibility that over the long run God is actually fair to everyone, not just a chosen few. 

You might find this article interesting:  http://www.freeread.com/22520/

Edited by Eek!
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18 minutes ago, Eek! said:

This is just going to be my opinion.

The concept of multiple mortal probations offers the possibility that this was not Joseph's first rodeo.   It also offers the possibility of God's promises coming true in a future life if they don't come true in this one.  For example, in D&C 132 verse 55, Joseph is promised "an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children..."   Obviously that did not happen in that lifetime, but it clearly says "in this world", so it's not talking about some afterlife world.   Likewise, a promise made in a patriarchal blessing could be fulfilled in a future mortal life. 

There is a possibility that John the Baptist may have been the reincarnation of Elijah, I can dig that up if you'd like. 

Just as the LDS teaching of the gospel being taken to the "spirits in prison" addresses the issue of whether those who died without baptism go to hell or not (the Christian world has no such teaching so their God is incredibly unjust to those who never heard of Jesus), likewise multiple mortal probations opens up the possibility that over the long run God is actually fair to everyone, not just a chosen few. 

You might find this article interesting:  http://www.freeread.com/22520/

God can accomplish his design of being fair to everyone simply through work for the dead.  I have no idea why you think that somehow MMP is required for "fairness."  Please explain why work for the dead is not sufficient for fairness.

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1 hour ago, Jeanne said:

To the topic only...yeah..and why was this man fore ordained as a prophet?  Faith as faith is should still have nothing to do with so many weaknesses.  After all these years..I still do not know that in a restoration of said gospel..why Joseph Smith was a chosen one.

I have yet to be convinced of any disqualifying weaknesses or sins on the part of the Prophet Joseph.
I personally consider him second only to Christ among our Father's children.

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1 hour ago, EdGoble said:

God can accomplish his design of being fair to everyone simply through work for the dead.  I have no idea why you think that somehow MMP is required for "fairness."  Please explain why work for the dead is not sufficient for fairness.

I understand that you would assume work for the dead is sufficient for fairness.  It may well be - it is a HUGE improvement over the concepts of the rest of the Christian world in this area.

But doesn't it require that people be judged based on "what they would have done"?  This violates the principle taught by the Second Article of Faith:  "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins..."

Likewise, would it be fair to give people an unearned exaltation?  That would violate this principle:  "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated - and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."

If the plan is eternal progression, by going from a small capacity to a great one, and so forth, then actually "walking the walk" probably does matter.  I subscribe to the theory that Jesus was serious when He said we are to become the same manner of man as He is, and I don't see how that much progress can happen in a single mortal lifetime.

Of course I could be wrong.

Edited by Eek!
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