1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

The Potential Role of Reincarnation in LDS Doctrine

Discussion in 'Latter-day Saints DIR' started by Thanda, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Hi All. It's been a minute. Hope you're all doing well

    So the last few years I have been less active from the Church. That time has given me an opportunity explore and deliberate on the spiritual questions without being completely constrained by Mormon dogma.

    Now let me add that the Plan of Salvation, especially the dotrine of the pre-existance and the various degrees and kingdom of glories, as taught in the Church still represents to me the most logical view of our place in the universe, our origins and our destiny.

    My issue is around the middle portion of the plan - our life on earth. The question I considered was how a just God could base our eternal destiny on a single life. Especially given that the length of people's lives varies so much, from still borns, to those who die at 4, 10, 15, 25, 50, 70 or 100.

    With this huge disparaty in the time granted to us on earth how certain can we be that every life is sufficient time for a person to make an informed decision about their eternal destiny?

    Furthermore, according the Mormon doctrine, the reason we came here on earth was because we needed our bodies in order to be properly tried and tested and in order to learn and grow so that we can become like our Father in Heaven. If so, then clearly our ability to be tried and tested, to learn and to grow is unique to this second estate. So while the mormon doctrine teaches that the spirit world is some sort of fail safe where any issues in this life will be resolved before judgement, I can't help wonder how people in the spirit would be able to be tried and tested (assuming their life on earth wasn't enough) to the same extent in the spirit world, as they would be on earth with bodies.
    Because the conundrum is that if it is possible to be equally tried and tested, and to progress in the spirit world as it is on earth, then why would we need an earth life in the first place?

    So having looked at these issues in the theology I began to wonder whether reincarnation was not the missing piece.

    In Abraham 3:24 to 26 we have the following:

    "24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

    25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

    26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever."

    Two things stand out to me
    1. Our second estate (our time on earth) will be used to determine our eternal destiny.
    2. The test to determine if we have been successful in our second estate is if can prove that we will do EVERYTHING the Lord commands us.

    So this rules out there being some other place where we can be tried and tested. It is on earth, with our bodies, that we must prove to God that we are willing to do "all things whatsoever he shall commands us". Or as the Lectures on Faith (6:5) put it

    "Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life."
    Note the reference to all EARTHLY things. There are no earthly things in the spirit world.

    So I conclude that if earth is the place for us to prepare ourselves for the final judgement and God is a fair God, then reincarnation makes sense as a part of that process to ensure that each of us have ample opportunity to decide our eternal destiny.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    There was a piece in August 1989 Ensign that addressed this topic:

    What exactly is reincarnation? Is it contrary to the teachings of the gospel?

    Here are the parts I found most applicable to your question:
     
  3. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Thanks for the response. I will give a response to some of the objections raised (remember I did not claim that reincarnation was Mormon doctrine. I know very well that it isn't).

    How do you reconcile the issues I raised about the one life one death doctrine of the Mormon plan of salvation ?
     
  4. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    I question your assertion that one life wouldn't be enough. Here's a short quote from Bruce R. McConkie:

    I think you just need to trust that God knows what he's doing. Aside from that - this life is a very short time. We've been preparing for it for a long time, and will have time to continue working on things afterwards.
     
  5. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    That's what I have hard time with. "We'll have time to continue working on things afterwards". This doesn't quite add up. If this is the life given "for men to prepare to meet God" why do we think there will still be time afterwards (outside of this earth life) for us to still prepare to meet him?

    And remember the conundrum: If we say that there is time after earth life, in the spirit world, for men to still prepare to meet God then we are effectively saying it is possible to prepare to meet God without a physical body. This then sets at naught the importance of a physical body and altogether brings to question why we had to leave the spirit world in pre existence in order to grow.

    Reincarnation however (and to make it clear the reincarnation I have in mind is from one human body to another - not inter species) reinforces the importance of the human body and of life on earth by making it mandatory that our preparation to meet God happens here on earth in our bodies.

    One other thing just came to mind. We are taught that those who did not get a chance to hear the Gospel on earth will have it taught to them in the spirit world. The question is, why would we need to have the gospel taught to us in the spirit world since we already knew the gospel before we ever came to earth? (Remember Jesus says that the devils believe and tremble. So the Gospel is known by spirits) And also what is the value of accepting or rejecting the Gospel when you can't even be tested on your ability to live what you claim believe. Unless of course the next life we go to after we die also has conditions similar to earth like having a veil and being able to be tempted in a similar way we are on earth.
     
  6. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    I’ll try and address some of the rest of your post tomorrow - but tonight it is late and I’m just on my phone, so...

    from Elder Maxwell:
     
  7. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Okay, now I will formally address the points raised in your first reply one by one.

    1. Once again I have conceded from the beginning that this is not Mormon doctrine. In fact it isn't even Christian doctrine. But it is a "truth" held by other religions and I believe it addresses a gap in the current understanding and doctrine of salvation

    2. Reincarnation is not resurrection. There could still be place for resurrection even in reincarnation is accepted. Reincarnation is about having another opportunity in mortality. Resurrection is about a permanent state after (or immediately before ) the final Judgement.

    3. My view on reincarnation does not include inter species transfer of the human spirit. As regards the resurrection being an exact reproduction of the current human body using the exact elements that now compose it: I think you understand the science well enough to know that the claim is rather dicey. The exact elements that make up our body change all throughout our lives as some cells die and others are regenerated in their stead using new elements derived from the food we eat.

    Secondly will we keep our races in the resurrection? Of what use will they be if we do.

    Thirdly according to the doctrine (D&C 76) there is one type of body for Telestial Kingdom, another for the Terrestrial and another still for the celestial. There will certainly be important differences between the bodies we possess in the resurrection versus the bodies we possess now.

    Lastly the bodies we will possess in the resurrection will be indestructible. That kind of excludes then from being made of the same elements that our bodies now are made of now.

    Also, far from making the body of little consequence, reincarnation reinforces the importance of the body and makes it take centre stage in this middle portion of the plan of salvation. Whereas the one life doctrine makes the body of slightly less importance since it asserts that there is another opportunity (in the spirit world) given to man make further preparations to meet God.

    4. Yes indeed. It was the very point I was making. Note that when a person is reincarnated the veil is applied to them so that each life they live is the only one they ever knew. However whatever principle of intelligence (like patience, faith, kindness, generosity etc.) we gained in this life rises with us in the life to come.

    I spoke to a friend of mine who's a bishop about this. I said to him that he knows as a person that he is trying to live a good life. And he knows he has made progress. But he also knows that he's not yet at the level where he can confidently says he does and "will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command [him]". Were he to die today he wouldn't measure up to this standard. But what if he lives again, and the gains he made in this life rise with him again so that his spiritual progression can continue and so on until he measures up or until it is clear he cannot progress further? How wonderful would that be?
     
  8. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Thank you for this quote. Had never heard it before.

    I've highlighted the word mortal. It is key to me. Spirits are not mortal- they are gnolaum, or eternal (Abr 3:18). And again, if the conditions in the spirit world are sufficient to still produce the same effects of trial and testing as on earth, why did we come to earth?
     
  9. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the purpose of life is, but that's all right because it is a missunderstanding that most of us have at one time or another. You are putting a whole lot of emphasis on the whole "work out your own salvation" part. While that is certainly a part of it, it is dwarfed by the part where we learn to trust Christ and his atonement to perfect us. That doesn't require more time, and it can be accomplished in the Spirit World.

    Personally, I think we put too much emphasis on the "test" aspect of this life. I find it more enlightening for me if I think of it in terms of life being a chance to choose what type of person we want to be. Again, this isn't a function of time on Earth, and it can be accomplished in the Spirit World (I personally think most of the decision will be made in the Spirit World for most of us).

    We need to have a body - for some reason that nobody understands. We also need to accomplish certain ordinances while in that body (or done by proxy by someone with a body). Some of us need physical experiences as well to help out with the process of learnign to trust Christ and his atonement - again, for reasons that aren't fully understood. We don't need more experience just to have it though.

    If we needed more time, God could have easily made the average human lifespan 5000 years. We don't need more time though - we need more faith.
     
  10. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Trusting Christ/God has fruit though. The fruit is the change that is wrought within us, which change allows us to be able to keep the commandments of God. Or in other words, it's the change that allows to get to a point where we become willing to "do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]". For "not everyone who says Lord Lord" will be saved but those who DO the will of the Father.

    So it is well to speak of trusting Christ and his atonement. But we will find no support in the scriptures for a view that we can be saved without proving here in this life that this trust is sufficient to allow us to keep all his commandments.

    I agree with this view of life. However I have always maintained that there are choices and then there are choices.

    In Luke 9:61-62 has the following:
    "61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

    62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
    A key aspect of the choice we make is our ability to back that up by enduring to the end with that choice. That's why deathbed confessions/conversions are so problematic. Having chosen you still need to be granted a time solidify that choice through trial.

    I am glad to hear this concession - that no one understands why we need to have a body. Perhaps a subject of another thread :).

    But let us observe that if the body were not essential to our eternal progression God could have done whatever this life is for in the realm of spirits without the great effort of this physical creation and all the effort he has put into our mortal lives here on earth. Or, if the physical body was important, he could have accomplished his purposes with us, judged us and the given us the perfect bodies we are to get in the resurrection. Because God does nothing in vain

    Clearly our eternal progress is inextricably tied to and dependant on an experience that is exactly like the one we are having now on earth, with a body.

    An average life span of 800 years of the early patriarchs (if you believe the ages) didn't prevent Abel from dying quite young. Murder, disease and accidents would render the "average life span" moot for those who die therefrom would still die young.
     
    #10 Thanda, Jan 19, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2020
  11. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    Basically - I see no marginal benefit to having additional lives. We already know that we can't get anywhere near perfection without the help of Christ. The couple inches closer that additional time might provide is nothing compared to the thousands of miles there is to go. One life gives us important things like a body and a chance to live within the veil to require faith. Additional lives wouldn't serve those purposes, and would add next to nothing.
     
  12. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    Another thought that I had - reincarnation would create havoc to the eternal family organization. I have this spouse in this life and that spouse in that life. These children and those children. These ancestors and those ancestors.

    Might even end up being your own grandpa
     
  13. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    Do you hold that view for people who die at the age of 10?
     
  14. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    Yes. I have no problem believing they will be taken care of and receive all of the experience they require.
     
  15. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    For sure, reincarnation would cause an entire rethink of our concept of the eternal family. Speaking of being your own grandfather, Jesus is his ancestor's (Abraham) ancestor - he's Adam's father (after all he is the Eternal Father):D.

    I have always considered the notion of eternal nuclear families a hard concept to grasp. There are actually a lot of issues with it.

    I will highlight only one here - the rest may be a subject of another thread.

    The first problem is that there is not any scriptural support for the idea that God is a male. He is a man (as in he is human like) but I do not get the impression that he is actually a male. Nor do I think the Holy Ghost is a male.

    The belief that God is male has led to many issues - not least of which is people creating religions where they worship a female God because they feel they would relate better to a female than a male. Or people trying to find out who Jesus got married to because he can't be a God without being married (when in fact he was already a God before he ever set foot on earth).

    Another issue with giving God a sex is the perfection of God. What need would a perfect God have for a female (assuming he is a male)? I'm sure we're all mature enough to know that God did not create billions of spirit children by sexual intercouse. Furthermore, what good characteristics or virtues would a Heavenly Mother possess that a Heavenly Father would lack? God is perfect. He has all good attributes in perfection. When Jesus came to earth he came to reveal God. He was alone. He had no companion going around with him to "complete" him. He declared himself, alone, complete. And he said we could all (male and female) become just like him.

    So in summary (and in contradiction to what is implied in D&C 132 and what is said explicitly in the Family Proclamation) I am not convinced that any member Godhead nor any of our Spirits have a sex nor will our resurrected bodies have a sex. We have sexes here so that children are not born to a single person but that they have a someone to help them raise the children (hence it not being good for Adam to be alone).

    The other issues which I will not elaborate on in detail here are around the sealing power (there is only one sealing power - not one for marriage and another for children); love (there is only one love that God possesses - not a romantic love vs a brotherly love. Just perfect love); the doctrine of seed (the seed/children of Abraham are all the faithful. Likewise those who follow the righteous counsel of the prophets are also the seed/children of those prophets. Also, Jesus did not recognize his own biological family as being of eternal consequence - Matthew 12:46-50).

    So yes reincarnation doesn't fit the nuclear eternal family paradigm but that paradigm has issues of its own anyway without even bringing reincarnation into it.
     
    #15 Thanda, Jan 20, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  16. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2010
    Messages:
    2,585
    Ratings:
    +426
    Religion:
    LDS
    No, I'm asking if you believe a 10 year old has had enough opportunity to exercise their faith.
     
  17. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    Yes.
     
  18. SoyLeche

    SoyLeche meh...

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2005
    Messages:
    7,416
    Ratings:
    +833
    Religion:
    LDS
    That’s probably a topic for a separate thread.
     
Loading...