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It's difficult to say. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism article you link to says that the Telestial Kingdom "embraces those who on earth willfully reject the gospel of Jesus Christ,..." Perhaps that means those who are exed and don't humbly make their way to re-baptism. This could be considered willful rejection. On the other hand, there are certainly those who have been ex-communicated and feel that they never rejected the gospel of JC, but that the Church rejected them. Only time will tell.

I was thinking I could be a psychic. And if somebody who'd lost a loved one came to me, I could tell them, say they lost their mother, "she is fine. she hasn't ceased to exist. She is out of pain and in a good place with good people to take care of her. She is surrounded by love.

She was met by the Lord when she died and He showed her a dvd of the life she'd lived and yeah, some of those things were painful to watch. But He was right there with her through the whole thing.

She loves you and she knows you love her. She wants you to be happy in your life and you will meet again.

She is very busy learning and growing and preparing. You will see her again and it will be wonderful.

Hell, I could be a psychic.

There is a quote somewhere about if your kids stray from the gospel, they will have a price to pay, but the bonds you make in the temple will still be strong or something like that. I keep hearing it and forget to note the reference.

I think we could take that clear back to Adam and Eve and the Celestial Kingdom is going to be more crowded than some active Mormons think.

Which is why I will be down below in my hot tub, watching satellite TV and eating strawberries.

Great post Dave. I follow your non-sectarian reasoning. I have faith in the justice and love of God. I think he values goodness and honesty. If you are "good" and "honestly" believe that a path outside of Mormonism is right for you, then God will surely judge your heart on this matter. I think a lot depends on what you mean by "Exmo." Lapsed Mormon who seeks a moral life of goodness elsewhere? Good. Ex-Mormon who viciously rounds on Mormons condemning them to hell and generally making them feel crappy? Bad.

Don't forget the discussion of death (a riff on Hamlet's soliloquy) in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It's one of my favorite. (From back when I had the energy to think an arts and entertainment blog could be kept up alongside my philosophy one)

I detect a subtext in the question, which you sort of addressed in your post, but which I think deserves a less nuanced answer.

Assuming the questioner was fully cognizant of her baptismal covenants and excommunicated for cause as part of the repentance process, the full question--bringing the subtext to the fore--would be, "Is an ex-Mormon punished in the afterlife more harshly than a non-Mormon who committed the same sin?"

To which the answer is probably "Yes." But as part of the repentance process, the ex-Mormon is likely to suffer more than the non-Mormon even if she doesn't die (See Alma 36:12-16). Furthermore, physical death does not arbitrarily interrupt a repentance process already underway. Blessings can be restored by proxy. But a repentance process willfully postponed in anticipation of death will never achieve the same outcome (see Alma 34:32-35).

Of course, there are a zillion other assumptions about the questioner that I could work through, but I don't want to distract from this particular one.

Ronan, I agree with your comment except to the extent that it implies (if it implies this at all) that the ordinances are not absolutely essential, with no exception. That is precisely why the Restored Gospel is so wonderful in its doctrine that even though God demands these ordinances for a place in the celestial kingdom, they are available to all through the vicarious work He has authorized members of his true Church to perform in mortality.

Also, it should be pointed out to this exmo emailer that the Gospel does not include such a simple breakdown as Heaven and Hell. The traditional Christian notion of this stems from a view that stops with the Spirit World and does not include information about post-Spirit World existence. In other words, what traditional Christians think of as Heaven is actually Spirit Paradise and what they think of as Hell is actually Spirit Prison. They do not see the next step, which is the universal resurrection of all (the unconditional aspect of the Atonement), both good and evil, for the purpose of standing before God in the flesh to be judged for their works (at which point the conditional aspects of the Atonement kick in for those who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf and the ordinances of the Gospel through the proper Priesthood authority). Thus, this exmo will be resurrected and stand to be judged. The works they have done will speak for themselves, as well as all the thoughts and intents of their hears and minds during life. Whether the Atonement will erase the stain of the sins they have committed will depend entirely on whether they have accepted the Atonement and the ordinances as performed by the proper priesthood, which only exists in the Church. If they have rejected their place in the Church and have maintained their excommunication, then that would certainly be a factor. However, I do not know, and I don't think anyone else knows either, what their chances for post-death progression and acceptance of the ordinances will be if they have actively rejected the ordinances on earth. A liberal mindset would hold that they probably will have the chance to accept or reject in the afterlife, including through vicarious ordinances. This is certainly more pleasing to the natural mind, and seems persuasive to me. The more conservative view would be that such post-death progression for someone who willfully rejected the ordinances that they had already received during life is unfair to those who remained faithful in life and who accepted the Gospel and ordinances without rejecting it when they had the chance during life. I think a substantial number of Latter-day Saints hold to this latter view.

Whatever the case, it seems like the worst the exmo could get would be life in the Telestial Kingdom in a resurrected body. (Some, but not many, Latter-day Saints would hold to the view that an exmo of this nature is actually a Son of Perdition who is cast to outer darkness, but that seems to be pure speculation.) We are all aware of the idea that the Telestial Kingdom, although the lowest of the degrees of glory and devoid of eternal increase, whatever that actually means, is still many times "better" than this earth life, whatever that means. Presumably, it means it will still be a Heaven of sorts, where care and strife are no longer present.

This shows how the Restored Gospel reveals a very liberal process. God is strict and demands obedience to his laws, no matter how arbitrary we find them according to the natural man. But he his also merciful and mindful of our final state, saving us all through resurrection and through at least a spot in the Telestial Kingdom. For some, perhaps the exmo is a good example of this, presence there will be difficult in the sense that we will have eternity to regret not receiving the fulness of what God would have given us. But I suspect that there will be many there who think they have gotten the fulness of God, who will think they have gone to the exact heaven they always believed in, and who will still think Mormons were crazy to talk about the "Celestial Kingdom" and participation with God in the activities that God engages in, whatever those are.

Funny title.

We moved from Utah to Colorado and one of the reasons was to get a bit of breathing room from Utah culture. Oddly, we found more than a couple young families in our new ward who did the exact same thing.

Seth, that's why only the good ones go to Colorado. The bad ones, when they die, are consigned to Utah. ;-)

Oh good. Another Utah bashing thread.

Dave, as usual you give a very fair and balanced answer...and I particularly appreciate your suggestion for handling "Mormon Doctrine."

All these different perspectives reminds me that ultimately the argument comes down to who has God's perspective on the matter. Setting aside the inanity of such a struggle for supremacy, I think the most important thing to note from an LDS perspective is the contrast between folk wisdom regarding the eternal reward for exmormons/apostates and the utter lack of language in LDS scripture to address the subject specifically.

Just as a clear definition of "the Gospel of Jesus Christ" is lacking to the extent that judging who is/is not valient becomes another inane persuit...so to is a clear scriptural definition of who is/is not a worthy member of the church. So we fall back on policy and guidelines and folk wisdom.

If anyone would like to make the jump between what appears in Section 76 and exactly how such may be applied to self or others...you're welcome to it. However, based upon how Jesus repeatedly condemns those who judge while forgiving those who otherwise fail...I'm thinking that defining the eternal reward for leaving the church is not what he has in mind.

At any rate, Colorado would be fine with me.

I have always believed that there would be Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Prostestants, etc... who would make it to the Celestial Kingdom before a lot of "Mormons" would. This is based upon the so called Utah Mormon Syndrome, social mormons, members for self advancement,and by the way I have met "Utah Mormons" who have never lived in Utah and the others just move to Colorado. Good people are good people no matter what their religion, and if they are trully living their life by the Light of God how can they not make it. Isn't that why we do work for the dead.

I believe this holds true for a Exmos too. I think it depends a whole lot as to why they where Ex, and where they were on there path to repentance. I truly believe in a loving Father who is going to give us every chance we need to return home.

I think it is important to consider how the church views excommunication. It is viewed as a temporary anullment of covenants. The church wants people to come back to the church and reinstate these covenenats. The same holds true in the afterlife.

Someone that dies excommunicated can return to the ordinances just as someone who has not been baptized. Obviously proxy-work becomes a bit more difficult (first presidency approval required) but it still happens.

Ultimately, the Mormon possition is that everyone needs the ordinances of the Church for salvation either in this life or the next and that excommunicated members will ultimately have access to these ordinances. Beyond that the Lord will judge the souls of all and with that, the ordinances mean nothing except how we live our covenants.

This thread is some good news...I, a former TR holding fella who is now a total non-believer, always assumed that I would be a dude of perdition, since I now 'deny the truth' of my temple education. I thought that my only way out may have been a possible second endowment a few generations back.

Another question...if I never darken the foyer of another LDS church again, but never get my name removed (i.e. exed) am I in better shape? It seems to me that I would be mocking the one true church by keeping membership in an organization I no longer support or believe in but may reap some benefits upon my death.

Darren, as a matter of doctrine, I think it's hard to make the case that a merely formal distinction in being on LDS records as a member of record or not would in fact make any difference in one's eternal fate. For support, see Paul's statements that what matters is being a good Jew (i.e., a keeper of the law) inwardly rather than outwardly, at Rom. 2:28-29.

But if you really take that thought to the logical conclusion, then why have ordinances at all? While some are okay with that, most people seem to place some residual merit in at least going through the motions.

Maybe that's why no one seems eager to push voluntary name removal, even for those who are now complete unbelievers in Mormon claims. The Church isn't pushing it, and few non-practicing Mormons push it. Even Thomas Murphy quite clearly indicated his preference for not being removed from LDS records. I find it quite understandable (for other more practical reasons as well) that most non-practicing LDS would rather just let it ride than make it an issue.

I stand by my statement. I think some people will be totally shocked. I'm considering hanging out my psychic shingle.

Annegb, I LOVED your analysis, which is as fine a summation of general LDS beliefs as I've ever read. It contrasts with what I see as traditional Xtian teachings (i.e., eternity praising God for the saved, and eternal burning and gnashing of teeth for everybody else).

And girl, making money off of the gentle LDS version of eternity? Tip of the hat. The clients will roll in.

They do not see the next step, which is the universal resurrection of all (the unconditional aspect of the Atonement), both good and evil, for the purpose of standing before God in the flesh to be judged for their works

Uh... Methodists do. Except they believe that the person will be judged "of" their works, not "for" them.

I got that from all my reading of near death experiences, are you the same Ann from LSDFl? Because I think you would like that book I Stand All Amazed.

I think it would be interesting, although cruel, which I wouldn't do, to do a reading on someone who had lost a loved one. I could do as good as James Prague. This ethereal spirit world, as much as I know anything, I know it exists.

David, are you saying that the Methodists believe that both good and evil will be resurrected, as we do?

John, yeah, at least the theologians do. The lay people might not, however. But I don't know any Methodist lay people, just professors that I had and some pastors, most of which read 1 Corinthians and conclude a universal resurrection. In fact, one prof. I had stated that he believed that the righteous would rise "God-like, but not God." Those were his exact words, which I think are fine even in Mormon circles. Also, Universalists/Unitarians believe in corporate resurrection.

(Side-note) Most of the disputes regarding resurrection in Christianity are not so much the totality or universality of the event, but rather the instrumentation involved in its actuation, as well as its timing. The Bible is a bit vague on both counts.

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