A unique teaching or Mormonism that does not get taught much anymore is that righteous parents can save their lost/wayward children by their own good works. This teaching works as a great carrot to keep the older generation active and engaged as the younger generations fall away from the church.
There are several examples of this principle of salvation of wayward children being taught in General Conference. From Elder James Foust from 2003
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”April 2003 Conference
The above is actually Elder Foust quoting Orson F. Whitney, which in turn is quoting Joseph Smith. Whitney gave the quote in the April 2029 General Conference. In 1992, Elder Boyd Packer gave the exact same quote.
Contrast this principle to Pres Nelson’s “sad heaven” talk of 2019. It seems he does not go along with the parents saving wayward children like Joseph Smith did. Pres Kimball said much the same thing in a 1974 Ensign article. First he quoted D&C 132:13 that says if it is not by God’s word it “shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.” Then he says:
How final! How frightening! Since we know well that mortal death does not terminate our existence, since we know that we live on and on, how devastating to realize that marriage and family life, so sweet and happy in so many homes, will end with death because we fail to follow God’s instructions or because we reject his word when we understand it.Temples and Eternal Marriage,” Ensign, Aug. 1974, p. 6
Also contrast Pres Nelson’s talk with a the First Presidency message in the Aug 2016 Ensign by Pres Eyring
A prophet of God once offered me counsel that gives me peace. I was worried that the choices of others might make it impossible for our family to be together forever. He said, ‘You are worrying about the wrong problem. You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom, and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine.Aug 2016 Ensign, Eyring
When was the last time you remember being taught that you could save your children? Are we as a church worrying about the wrong thing? Will our family arrangements in heaven be more wonderful than we can imagine?
A family that honky tonks together stays together. That’s heaven enough.
My son came out of the closet, my other son got baptized in the Baptist church and my daughter moved in with her boyfriend. President Nelson’s talk came right after all that. It put me over the edge and I haven’t been back to church since. I just want God’s truth.
When the Prodigal son came home he was just loved and accepted by his father.
Ensign, March 2014 – Bednar gives his own take on the Orson Whitney quote, more in line with Nelson.
I don’t believe In sad heaven. I also don’t think RMN has received any vision or knowledge from God that would make him able to do anything more than speculate like the rest of humankind.
Honestly, I don’t know if any religious tradition really knows anything about what happens after death. At least with Joseph Smith, his original creative imagination / visions / whatever you want to call it were focused on trying to created ways for family ties to persist through the eternities, rather than scare tactics. I don’t know if Joseph Smith really had a vision of his older brother Alvin, but I know that he believed he had seen into the heavens. While his later ideas of everlasting harems of wives via polygamy are repulsive, his early ideas of families ties surviving death are clearly comforting in a world where possible death of children and parents and friends were /are always just around the corner. So I’ll take his hopeful view, although with a large grain of salt. It seems to me that a just and loving God would find ways for relationships to persist for those that wanted them to.
Between 2010-2013,I served in a Bishopric in Maryland. During that time (sorry I cannot be more precise about date), Jeffrey Holland held a Saturday Church leadership training conference in the Stake Center next to the Washington, D.C. Temple.
He was blunt, and his words received wide dissemination in the local Church. He stated that the sealing powers of the temple trump sin, every time. (Trump was the word he used. I was pleased, but thought that a Church leader using a card-playing term was interesting.) He also flatly declared that for those who have entered into the sealing ordinances of the temple for themselves and their families, there will be no empty chairs at the dinner table. Again, Holland’s words.
While I try, as a believing member of the Church, to sustain Russell Nelson, I suspect (and) hope that once he is no longer with us, that the collective Church culture will relax considerably.
I’m no fan of strict requirements for a happy heaven. But the idea that children can be saved by their parents’ faithfulness smacks of favoritism. Why would God prefer someone who happened to be born to a faithful Latter-day Saints to someone born to nonmembers or to inactive Latter-day Saints? I’d much rather believe that everyone gets this preferential treatment—that God is happy to work with everyone for as long as it takes for them to become as happy as they want to be.
Someone plz tell me how to erase an inadvertent downvote again. Sorry, Taiwan, my thumb’s too big, but I DO agreed w/ your post.
Someone plz tell me how to erase an inadvertent downvote again. Sorry, Taiwan, my thumb’s too big, but I DO agreed w/ your post.
@p just click on upvote about five times and it should change
Maybe it’s one of the few “liberal mormon” streaks in me, but I think the Celestial Kingdom will be packed. When all is said and done, I think inhabitants of the other two kingdoms will be there largely by choice and comfort level, rather than relegation.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a real aspect of “sad heaven” to one degree or another (maybe I’m just looking for a loophole in President Nelson’s words). The Atonement and sealing power associated with my righteous parents may ultimately bring me into the highest level, but as the quotes indicate, it’s going to cause a lot of work and heartache on my part if the choices I made in mortality were bad. That pain is going to affect my parents as well by virtue of who they are. I think that’s something worth avoiding, since that process could take anywhere from months to millennia. “Sad Heaven” is best avoided, even if it’s only temporary.
Thx, that works. Now someone plz tell me how to remove duplicate posts (smiley face here)
I’ve always had issue with the teaching and promises associated with “saving” children because of their parents righteousness. Where does agency fit in? It’s a contradiction to ease of the pain of Church teachings and give comfort to suffering parents. I’ve been taught this concept my whole life, but I believe your afterlife will be wherever you’re comfortable and happy. I believe you will have whatever relationships you want to continue. That said, none of really know. But if RBNs statements are true, I’ll pass on that kingdom.
All I know is the phrase “tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out [to] draw them back to the fold” doesn’t do much to entice me back to church.
Forget the good shepherd. We have the good Kraken.
One thing I don’t like about Pres Eyrings quote about taking care of yourself is that it smacks of the idea that you’ll be re-sealed to a different worthy spouse and children. While I’m not sure it’s official LDS doctrine I’ve heard it enough that many members think that unworthy family members will be swapped out.
The original Joseph Smith reaching is one of my favorites and is what I choose to believe. As others have said, I can’t imagine a loving father (or Father) who would reject a child who eventually wants to be embraced and accepted into the family.
A corollary. If JS can’t get such a fundamental teaching right why would I trust the idea of sealing at all. It’s almost as if our most senior Church leaders don’t even agree on our defining doctrine. This is troubling.
Heaven as psychological defense mechanism against a perhaps inadvertent/accidental side affect of that most magnificent adaptation, consciousness: foreknowledge of our ceasing to be. Perhaps we should discuss that possibility in church, too. I’d respect that.
My parents taught us this tentacles approach in the ‘70s. Their religious scrupulosity increased throughout their lives – especially as some of my siblings were stepping off the straight and narrow.
Through “official” channels, I was taught it is up to the individual. Even if it were true for my parents, I would have to do the same to protect my kids.
My dad’s brother died recently. A great guy – loving and generous – adored by his kids and grandkids. But *gasp* he drank beer and smoked cigars. When my brother was talking with my mom (with growing dementia) about the reunion in the spirit world between dad and his brother, she was sad that they couldn’t see each other because my uncle “hadn’t lived a righteous life”. Very sad heaven for her. (The distinction between the spirit world and final judgement are lost on her because of the mild dementia).
The truth is that none of us really knows what comes after death – or even if anything does. It is down to belief. I think RMN’s view is in sad contrast to many of his predecessors (even stricter than McConkie’s).
Looking at the last 40 years in the church, there has been a deliberate lessening of universalism, the liberalism of God, and the joyfulness of Gospel living.
Strict adherence to every ever-narrowing word coming from the Q15 is what defines our state in this life and the next. I sense an unease and disquiet among the saints as the scrupulosity rhetoric ramps up. Even joyful expressions have a tense under tone.
Simply put: I don’t like it and I don’t think it is right.
Recall this from the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” We don’t inherit sin from our ancestors, Neither do we inherit righteousness. The whole point of LDS “free agency” is that each man and woman stands accountable to God for their own choices and actions.
I think the excerpts quoted are just leaders sometimes telling people what they want to hear. Keeping the tithe-paying older folks in the pews happy.
In October 2019, Dallin Oaks, who was at that time a member of the first presidency, said the following to a worldwide audience:
“I believe a BYU religion professor’s article on this subject had it right: “When we ask ourselves what we know about the spirit world from the standard works, the answer is ‘not as much as we often think.’”
So if the scriptures are not that helpful, the only thing we have left is the teachings of prophets.
Nelson has a sad heaven. Oaks admits we don’t know everything we think we do. Joseph Smith was far more universalist than we talk about.
What am I to believe then. Standard works are limited. Prophets don’t agree and don’t have a clue.
We can (and should) have hope for an afterlife that is beautiful and meaningful. We can (and should) live our best life according to our unique circumstances and environment, and work to promote that hope for others. In many cases, a LDS life/belief system works for folks. In other cases, something else entirely needs to anchor the soul. There’s room for all who are seeking peace and answers while loving their neighbor as themselves. There’s little excuse for marginalizing, manipulating, or damning a child or entire group just because they do not act or believe in harmony with a set of institutional doctrines and teachings.
Que sera sera. I’m starting to wonder if death is the end? I’d rather deal with the here and now, using Christ as a model.
I’m really not sure the original quote is any healthier than sad heaven.
“Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”
My children are still young, so I haven’t entered this phase of life yet. But barring a few specific examples, I will not consider my children careless and disobedient. I am not their Savior; I’m their dad. If they take a different path in life, I will walk with them as far as they allow. But I will NOT characterize my children as good or bad. They are children of God, worthy of his (and our) love. Full stop.
Life has thrown me enough curve balls that I no longer care about the logistics of heaven. I find that for most TBM worrying about heaven truly distracts from being able to savor the now. And for most folk, the now can be pretty great, if you give it a chance.
Otherwise, I agree with Kirkstall that the tentacle language was quite odd, and with BeenThere that there is simply no need to limit heaven so much.
You would think that on such a fundamental point of doctrine, we’d have a clear picture. I get it that we can’t know all the “mysterious” of heaven. But how in the heck is it possible that we have a debate between RMN’s “sad heaven” and Orson Whitney’s more generous version? If our prophets can’t get this story straight why would we listen to them on ANY subject?
My wife and I were discussing this very topic a few weeks ago and I really like the way she put it:
“It’s fine to believe in an afterlife as long as it doesn’t cost you your current existence.”
Hmmmm, as someone who is not really sure I want to be with my BIC parents for eternity, the quotes that promise that the sealing ceremony overrides even the worst sin and all sealed people will be together in heaven, is just not quite comforting either. No, some real repentance is needed before I want to be with my father, or his father. So, I really do think there are sins that break the bonds, just like if someone hurts you badly enough, you just don’t want to be around them any more. If someone hurts you to the point that you stop loving them, then what kind of God would force you to spend eternity with them?
Now, I don’t think my “wayward children “ have crossed that line, even though the church doesn’t even want my daughter and her wife. The church still wanted my abusive father, but they don’t want my sweet loving faithful daughter? Stupid church. But anyway, the church has different standards of sin worth cutting someone off for than individuals have for family members, so maybe God has a very different standard too.
So, my opinion on who is right, JS or RN, is that we will be with those we love and desire to be with. Sealings make no difference to God. That is some silly human ceremony made up to comfort us after the Catholics tried to scare us about our unbaptised children being damned forever. But love binds us together. So, if your loved one is still worthy of your love, you will be with them. If you want to be separated from someone who abused you, fine, God will take care of that. Even if they repent, if you don’t want to be with them….we’ll maybe that is the proof they didn’t really repent.
And God is going to work with each of us to help us progress as far as we want to progress. God doesn’t give up on his kids, or maybe that should be Goddess doesn’t give up on her kids. I believe in progress between Kingdoms, to put the idea in Mormon terms. I believe in eternal progression for all of God’s children, not just a few.
I prefer David Ostler’s approach in his book, Bridges. In a piece in LDS Living, he writes, “At our house, my wife and I still talk about no empty chairs, but we talk about having no empty chairs at the dinner table, around the pool, on a vacation, at their life events, and in all the chairs from our children’s lives.”
I’m content to focus on my relationships with my family members in this life and let any afterlife take care of itself. Worrying about whether we need to work even harder to “be righteous” so our children can be saved, or preach to or shame them so we won’t have a “sad heaven” only serves to further divide our families. Lets keep the chairs full in the here and now and just love and accept our family members. We can view our family members with “unconditional positive regard,” a concept originated by Stanley Standal in 1954 and popularized by psychologist Carl Rogers.
I am becoming increasingly agnostic or maybe even atheist so this all seems rather irrelevant to me now. But I do enjoy reading this blog and comments – kind of helps me to see that I’m on the right path for me. What this discussion also shows is how many contradictory comments are made by church leaders when we are repeatedly told the church holds all the answers. It really does make it hard to know what to believe.
My core issue is with the whole idea of a transactional afterlife: if you’re good enough here, you’ll be rewarded later with position, priviledge, and glory. Granted, none of us really has a verifiable idea of the mysteries ahead when we die, but I like to imagine that this world is some kind of preparation for the next. Besides, I just can’t believe God’s “kingdom, reign, heaven” (and none of those words adequately describes the concept, btw) is in any way hierarchical, patriarchal, or exclusionary. Why? Because God is love–and that’s the beginning, middle, end, and essence of it all. Love is the standard by which to judge every belief and action. Even judgment itself must be restorative.
I think the idea of “wayward children” is so patronizing. 90% of the time it’s being used the children have merely taken their own path and are building their own happy life outside of the confines of the Church. It suggests that if you take up drinking, or smoking, or a consensual sexual relationship outside of marriage, you’re not a good person. I just don’t believe that.
Also, as someone with a very anti-carceral mindset here on Earth, I take issue with the idea of a “Final Judgement.” Surely anyone can repent at any point of their existence and be given opportunities to keep progressing.
Rich, I am bothered by the transactional after life too. It just feels wrong. But my problem with “if you are good enough here you will be rewarded with position, privilege, and glory” and crowns and sit on a thrown, and have kingdoms to rule over and riches and 70 virgins….wait 270 virgins? Anyway, my problem with being rewarded with getting all your selfish desires is that it is getting all your selfish desires. So, here we are not supposed to be power hungry, sex crazed, desiring lots and lots of riches and essentially selfish jerks so that in the NEXT life we get to be rewarded by being powerful, rich, own a harem (be in a harem?) and get everything our selfish heart desires? What is wrong with this picture? Sell all that you have and give it to the poor now so in the next life you can be rich? Serve your fellow man now so in the next life everyone will serve you, so you have a kingdom to rule over? Live a monogamous life now and God will reward you with a harem in the next life. There is just something wrong with this whole “reward” idea. It is like “if you lose 5 pounds I will give you all the doughnuts you can eat.” It just feels wrong to want “power, dominion, riches, lots of wives” as our reward. Those are essentially very selfish desires.
How about sell all that you have and give to the poor so you can learn to be a loving and compassionate human being. How about serve your fellow man so you can learn how to serve your fellow man. How about learn to live like Jesus and you get to love people.
I have some thoughts here:
First, I can trace one of my big wake-up moments to when I saw a meme that said “I believe in life before death” and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had been living like I didn’t. Life lived with only the after-life as the goal is not life lived at all. YOLO has a lot of truth to it, more truth than the alternative.
Second, my heart broke when I listened to a very faithful and beautiful older woman tell of her child who had left the church and she used the phrase “spiritually dead” to describe that child. What kind of paradigm have we bought into when we see our children as mostly dead when they aren’t following exactly the path we think they should? With that kind of perspective, what hope is there that the child would even want to spend eternity with that parent?
Lastly, my uncle committed suicide when I was in elementary school. More than a decade later, as I was fighting an episode of depression, my grandparents had a serious talk with me about therapy. They told how my uncle had been in therapy, but the therapist wasn’t encouraging him enough to live Gospel standards, so they took him out. They warned me about therapists who would lead me away from the Gospel. I spent years muddling through depression, never feeling the courage to really dive into healing, for fear it would ruin my precious testimony. It was brutal. It was another two decades before the bomb went off in my head – they took him out of therapy but HE KILLED HIMSELF. And yet apparently that was better than him straying from the Gospel path and staying alive. I don’t even know what to do with that. But it did give me courage to finally pursue healing with all my effort. (Many of us in the younger generation suspect my uncle may have been gay, but we can’t get any of his generation to openly address that possibility, so we may never know.)
Jessica’s comment really hit home. I am sorry for the experiences she had, and the appalling mindsets she encountered. Thanks to Jessica for the points she made.
FWIW, I went through a period of depression about 10 years ago. It was not disabling, only painful—but unpleasant enough that on my own, I sought therapy through professional counseling, through an excellent therapist in what was then called LDS Family and Social Services. It was very helpful, and my medical insurance covered it.
I made the strategic mistake of mentioning this one day, in passing, to my Bishop, who threw a tantrum, because LDS Family and Social Services was a hotbed of dangerous liberals, who would rob you of your testimony if you weren’t careful. Though surprised by his outburst, I calmly informed my Bishop that he was entitled to his opinion, but I was going to do what I felt was best for me. Needless to say, this was the last time I talked about anything more substantive than the state of the weather, with that particular Bishop. Live and learn.
Hopefully, Erich Kopischke’s recent conference talk on mental illness will help attitudes change.
And at the risk of a comment thread hijack, I would like to highly recommend an article in the newest issue of The Atlantic, entitled, “The Evangelical Church is Tearing Itself Apart.” While the article does not completely apply to the Mormon Church, I became uncomfortably aware, as I read it, of unpleasantly similar problems being faced in our own Church, as it is confronted by the mindset of a determined, substantial minority of extremists who are just flat-out hostile to modern realities—this includes, IMO, the hostility displayed by Jessica’s family to getting professional psychiatric help when it is needed. The article also focuses on the problem caused by pharisaic rule-bound people who are more interested in following rules, than in obeying Christ’s injunction to love one’s neighbor. Which gets us back to the original point of sad heaven or inclusive heaven.
“The Evangelical Church is Breaking Apart”
Please everyone: love your children, your siblings, etc. Whether they are LBGTQI+ or inactive or ex-mo or single or whatever. Life is too short to shun or alienate.
I have read two recent non-LDS books about near-death experiences. I found no mention that these people are told in the great beyond they need to re-enter their body and join TCOJCOLDS.
In 1998, Dallin Oaks gave a very useful talk called “Have You Been Saved?” in which he discussed six different meanings of the words “saved” and “salvation” as used by Mormons (my word, not his). Two of those are not interesting in this context, so I will ignore them. But correctly identifying which meaning applies in the Whitney quote should clear up a lot of confusion. The remaining four meanings can be ordered by their universality with the most universal being salvation from physical death (better known as “resurrection” and 100% universal) and least universal being exaltation. In between are two definitions for which we don’t have good alternative terms, so both are typically referred to as just “salvation.” The more universal of the two is salvation from spiritual death, discussed at length in 2 Nephi 9. This is nearly universal, leaving out only the sons of perdition (although Jacob seemed to think they would be more numerous that I think they will be). Basically, this type of salvation means that you will eventually be delivered from hell and enter into a degree of glory, but not the Celestial. It seems clear to me that this is the definition Whitney was talking about because he specifically states that “[t]hey will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins…” The last definition is salvation from the consequences of sin, which is inconsistent with Whitney’s quote. This type of salvation is reserved for those who repent and otherwise follow the fourth Article of Faith, which, in turn opens the gates of the Celestial Kingdom. Those who are exalted will be a subset of this last group.
As I’ve tried to explain in other threads, I don’t believe the kingdoms of glory are geographically distinct entities but rather graduated levels of awareness and opportunity. To oversimplify, everybody who is in any kingdom of glory will have opportunities to progress eternally, but those in higher kingdoms will have more opportunities. The “table”, being static can accommodate people from of all kingdoms, so there will be a seat for everybody. And nobody need be sad–everyone will have exactly the opportunities they truly want.
Actually, the TRUE DOCTRINE is that all families will be together forever UNLESS the parents make and hold to temple covenants. This was revealed by GOD. PRAY about it and the ANSWER that it is TRUE is if you DON’T feel good about it.
This topic is a good reminder as to why the rest of Christianity thinks we’re not Christians: we still claim that parents save children. Or that sealings save people. Or that Temple attendance saves people. Or that obedience saves people. I just sat through a zoom sacrament meeting where both talks were on salvation, and not a mention of the Savior. Lots of mentions about temples and the Prophet, though.
There is only one name under heaven that saves people. It ain’t my Dad’s name or my Mom’s name – as wonderful as they are.
Temple ordinances are manifestations of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So they do contribute towards our salvation as they originate from the Savior himself.
@lastlemming, that all just seems so overly complicated what with all the kingdoms and degrees and definitions and what nots. We make up all this overly complicated doctrine (ie, temple ordinances and degrees of celestial glory). And then we have to make it even *more* complicated when what we’ve made up creates problems and sadness (ie, parents are sad because otherwise happy and healthy children choose not to participate in temple ordinance creating empty chairs and sad heaven). Absolutely not one bit of which has anything to do with Jesus.
And fundamentally how does anyone – Oaks or Whitney or anyone else – know anything about it anyway? They haven’t seen it anymore than we have. So to try to detail it beyond more than a shadow seems really a tremendous waste of mental, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and even physical energy on something that none of us has any clue about really because it happens after we die. And I guess I wouldn’t care if people want to pontificate on theology in their spare time except that I see this hurting our families right here, right now because we are fretting about where we will all end up and how many empty chairs we will have in Heaven if our kids get a tattoo and drink coffee and how much more righteous we have to be to compensate so we spend our spare time doing extra temple sessions separated from them to try to somehow bind them to us for eternity instead of with each other here and now in the only time we know we have accepting them as they really are. I’ve seen this play out so many times and it is really tragic.
If mom and dad spend all their time trying to get their “wayward” children to repent and have been unable to connect with them because their judgment and their loyalty to the Church is in the way who’s to say those kids will even want to sit in those chairs their parents “earned” for them? They’ve long ago made their own table elsewhere. Who’s to say they won’t go running from those divine tentacles like they would a Kraken? They know what their parents & God’s “love” looked like before and it didn’t feel much like love to them then so why would it now?
A little bit more about David Ostler’s approach that he outlines in his book, “Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question”
On the Gospel Tangents website Ostler is quoted, “So this is a guy named Mike, and I put it at the end of my book. I introduced him in the first chapter, but I put him in the end of the book, because he wrote me a follow up email about six months after I first interviewed him. I told him, I was just about to conclude the book, and when he gave me this, I threw away the conclusion, and rewrote it to include his story. He’s in a faith crisis, unsure whether he’ll stay in the church. It’s hard for him to participate. He feels still alone and isolated, even though he’s been in this particular state for more than two years, I believe. He just gives us advice on what to do. He’s thought about it because he’s felt it.
“He [Mike] said, “When I was in the dark night of the soul, there are a few things that could have really helped me. I needed someone to just listen, and then after listening, let me know and help me really believe that they trusted me and loved me, no matter what conclusion I came to. I needed someone to show me that it was love that was the strongest and largest cord that bound us together, not our common belief in the church. I needed someone to not only listen but to encourage me to seek answers and say, ‘Great, I don’t know where that journey will take you, and it’s your own journey. but whatever conclusion you come to, I will absolutely respect you, and if you want someone to walk with you for a while on your journey, call me. I’m there for you.’ I needed someone to let me know that they have never experienced what I’m experiencing, so they won’t pass judgment. I needed to feel from people, not just hear words, that they trusted me and viewed me as a worthy, intelligent and spiritually sensitive human being” (David Ostler quoted in gospeltangents.com).
Would we want to give our children anything less? “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?”
David Ostler was interviewed by Rick Bennett on the Gospel Tangents website, some of which are shared here on Wheat and Tares. He gave many interviews when his book was released.
Other posts on this blog also discuss Ostler’s approach.
I don’t know exactly what questions of the day they were trying to address, but they aren’t the questions of *this* day. I don’t know any non-LDS people who don’t believe that they’ll be with their families in the life to come. They’re not anxious about it.
“Telestial” isn’t a word, as evidenced by my auto-correct suggesting “Celestial” instead. Why do we beat ourselves up with categories that were made -I’m guessing – just to show that we can be closer to and further from God, depending on our desires.
Taiwan Missionary, I’m sure one of the Wheat&Tares bloggers will do a post on the “The Evangelical Church is Breaking Apart” news story. What came to my mind was the DezNat faction in our church.
My comment was more curt than it should have been. It’s hard to see my ailing, faithful, hardworking mother burdened by the thought of us all being separated into kingdoms because some of my siblings simply decided that the LDS church isn’t for them.
Good discussion folks.
Someone up above mentioned that leaders may be just telling members what they want to hear, referring to quotes that sealings will empower parents to save their children. So much of what people believe is based on what they want to believe, so this might be true. But it might apply to the sad Heaven concept as well.
Yes, many (most? almost all?) parents do want to hear that they can guarantee the children’s salvation. My own relatives were devastated when their son began studying to be a pastor or something in a different church. Lutheran, maybe. They may be comforted by quotes that suggest that he could be saved through his sealing to them, although I don’t think they believe that. He’s a great guy, by the way, one of my favorite humans.
By the same token, a lot of members want reassurance that they are benefiting from their sacrifice for the church. They take comfort in believing that the tithing they pay and the time they spend away from their families will be rewarded in Heaven with something that lazy learners and lax disciples won’t get. After all, if everyone is going to be saved, why make all these sacrifices in the first place? Sad Heaven is a way of justifying all the sacrifices people make in consecration to the church. Like the brother of the Prodigal Son, they may question why the wayward folk are allowed to return to the fold so easily.
A coworker of mine tells of funerals he has attended where inactive members or people of other faiths talk about how they’ll see there loved ones in Heaven. “No they won’t,” he says, “and they should know that already. They didn’t live a good life! They won’t be there.”
He is not talking about rapists and murderers, by the way. He’s talking about people who maybe didn’t pay tithing, or go to church. They probably drank coffee and beverages made from barley. He is validating his own life choices by reasoning that others will be rewarded less.
I make no claims to know what Heaven will be like, if it exists. I think most people believe what they want to believe, and find the leadership quotes to back up their belief.
This why I find it extremely important that *** all our actions must be morally justifiable in this life. *** I.E. we must not damage our relationships in this life if the only reason is because of something we expect to happen in a different life. I like the comment above about not having empty chairs at family vacations / reunions etc.
In a totally unrelated note, Kirkstall’s comment about the Good Kraken is my favorite thing I’ve seen in a while.
“ He [Mike] said, “When I was in the dark night of the soul, there are a few things that could have really helped me. I needed someone to just listen, and then after listening, let me know and help me really believe that they trusted me and loved me, no matter what conclusion I came to. I needed someone to show me that it was love that was the strongest and largest cord that bound us together, not our common belief in the church. I needed someone to not only listen but to encourage me to seek answers and say, ‘Great, I don’t know where that journey will take you, ….”
I tried to convey that to someone I called a friend. Boy, oh boy, her response was the opposite—she went on the attack, telling me I needed to figure out what is wrong with me and to humble myself, and more.
Needless to say, that was the end of the friendship. Oh, she did say that we could maybe repair the rift, but “things might get worse before they get better.”
Thanks Wheat & Tares for giving us space to breathe, to share, etc.
Our Heavenly Parents are good and loving…there is no sad heaven. Their work and glory is to bring about eternal life (celestial happiness) for all. Some journeys are longer than others, but will God fail? There is eternal progression, and no game show buzzer times us out.
Everything else is scare tactics.
Came out of lurking to also request a post about The Atlantic’s “The Evangelical Church is Breaking Apart.” There’s so much there that’s applicable to us. I might even start participating instead of lurking 😉
I truly respect your opinion often. Once again you seen to have the right grasp on things. Having lived in MD from 2004 to 2020, could we have crossed paths? I hope that I did not miss the chance to gain from you in person because of my narrow-sightedness during some of those years.
It seems to me that the core problem is that you either develop relationships with your children that you & they would want to be eternal, or you allow your relationship with “being right” and with your own religious worldview to be more important than your relationship with your children. If that’s your priority, maybe sad Heaven won’t be sad anyway because who would want to be with you? Children have an inate ability to know when the love being offered them is conditional, and that’s not love.
But this is one of those really bad ideas where you go to Church to be edified and instead you are given ideas that don’t even pass the whiff test. They so obviously stink that anyone trying to live a good life should be able to tell that right away. Why can’t they? Because they are more wrapped up in “being right” than they are in doing right. I sat through a particularly bad Gospel Doctrine lesson on this topic less than a year ago in which a rather young man encouraged everyone to go out and accost those who weren’t attending Church to tell them they were ruining their families forever and to repent.
I see a problem with both approaches. Nelson’s “sad heaven” (outright excluding wayward kids from the eternal family) and Faust’s “good kraken” (where parents have a chance to save wayward children by their own works) both let parents off the hook for being bad parents. When unconditional love reigns, it shouldn’t matter if a child chooses a different spiritual path or comes out as LGBTQ. Those things shouldn’t change a loving parent/child relationship. Instead, Church leaders are honoring those self-righteous members who seek justification for their choice to kick out/exclude/disown their children, rather than holding the parents accountable and calling them to repentance. So parents can either resign themselves to enjoying the eternities with their remaining righteous family members (Nelson), or double-down in their own righteousness and temple attendance to try and save their wayward offspring without their knowledge or consent (Faust).
Nelson’s talk (“time is running out”) was a major lost opportunity. He could have used that message to enjoin parents of wayward kids to make amends for being awful parents.
I think Angela C is spot on in her definition of the problem. It’s also one of the most common themes in family therapy—is it more important to be right, or to feel love and connection with the other person? It’s possible (and not problematic) to value or want both outcomes. And sometimes you can’t have both.
I know that the CoJCoLDS perspective says the Bible alone is incomplete. Still, I can’t help but ask myself which perspective on eternal families/salvation is closer to what Jesus himself preached? I think there’s some room for different opinions, but ultimately I keep coming back to the idea that he taught us to be kind and to withhold judgment. He said plenty about giving our children good gifts, and very little about professing the right opinions.
This just drives me crazy. For some reason GA’s have no problem contradicting other GA’s or Prophets Doctrines. They seem to pick and choose what doctrines Joseph Smith taught. they focus on some, and others they seem to forget and others they contradict. They can even contradict each other in the same conference. I don’t know any organization like this.
How can anyone take them seriously. If you don’t like what you heard just wait for the next GA
Pertaining to my own children and Grandchildren who are indescribably beloved by me and my wife:
There is nothing we wouldn’t do.
There is nowhere we wouldn’t go.
There is no burden we wouldn’t bear.
There is no duration we wouldn’t wait.
We hope God is at least as good as we are.
“Nelson’s talk (“time is running out”) was a major lost opportunity. He could have used that message to enjoin parents of wayward kids to make amends for being awful parents.”
You really aren’t characterizing parents of children who have chosen a different path as awful parents, are you?
Please tell me this isn’t what you meant. Maybe you didn’t explain your thought fully enough? Did I misunderstand? Some of the most amazing parents I know have children who have chosen different paths in life. All parents make mistakes, no question, and all parents should apologize to their children for their parenting missteps. And of course parents who initially reject their children for making life choices different than they wished should work to rectify that.
Thanks for the kind comment.
I lived in Westminster, MD between 1999-2017, if that can help us form a connection. I served in a variety of ward leadership callings, but also got a reputation as a person who would speak his mind, which is probably why the Church put up an invisibility screen around Westminster, not wanting the infection to spread……
Living in the Wasatch:
I genuinely sympathize with your problem, but we are actually better off than the Catholic Church, whose leaders engage in open warfare with each other.
I actually like that the Mormon Church’s leaders have said so many different things over the years. It allows me to cherry-pick quotes to suit my own agenda. Plus, if a Church leader has views I don’t like, I know he will eventually move on, to annoy people in the Spirit World. Okay
Hang in there, and follow what YOU think is right.
So, as my wife and started really talking to neighbors and work colleagues and non-church friends as we faded from church activity, one of the things we noted was that EVERYONE who believes in an afterlife believes they will be with the people they love.
Wait a minute…why are they not worried about being separated into various “degrees of glory” and being “cutoff” from their children who just were not as righteous as them? No one even thinks such thoughts.
But wait,…we always thought we were the one true church that had a special message for families that no one knew about. My wife and I both served missions at the same time and showed the VHS. Cassette of Families Can Be Together Forever” dozens of time in our respective missions in the early 90’s. I understand now why my companion and I were the only ones with tears. These people never questioned they wouldn’t be with Grandpa unless they paid their tithing and stopped drinking coffee.
The LDS church has been less than friendly and hope-inspiring to my own family with one gay child and now parents that think that my wife and I are consigned to outer darkness (we have broken their hearts and that is a terrible thing to cause the people we love most). We now find the LDS doctrines about “Family” to be perfectly taught to ensure exact obedience to the institution else it takes away the one thing you would sacrifice all for: an afterlife with your family. We don’t accept that anymore.
The Faust/Joseph smith prophecy about parents binding wayward children seems to hinge on the oft wrestled paradox of works and faith/grace. Parents can work to serve and mend the relationship and the wayward child, as is their role and duty. But, we aren’t saved by works alone and neither does works erase the child’s agency. But works and discipleship create the atmosphere, aligns hearts, removes barriers and puts people in a place of pre AND post-salvific disposition. Ultimately, the grace or love of god saves us, and ultimately the love of parents to children binds them together.
Our awareness of Gods’ love for us is woken in our conscienceness as we reflect on how God so loved the world, contemplating the love it took to perform the atonement/sacrifice. And similarly, wouldn’t an endlessly loving earthly parent who seeks after any opportunity, any sacrifice for their children, eventually be felt and appreciated? Whether that love is first seen/felt/grasped or the muscle to place ourselves in closer proximity comes first doesn’t really matter. The result will be the same. Just as grace is our gift, a parents’ unconditional and unfailing love for a wayward child is the gift of grace that will eventually win out. The work and glory of earthly and eternal parents won’t fail. Yeah, maybe parents need to clean their acts up, and sure, kids are gonna wander and place the spear in their parents’ hearts, but the love that is there, that is cultivated, will be key in the end.
That, Elder Nelson (pre-Prophet), is the story of heaven. It isn’t one of sad defeat, but of love, sacrifice, and promise. And, there is a weeping God of Mormonism, because the process is long and hard, the cup is a bitter one. Heaven is love and love is beautiful, but unrequited, love is painful. At the throne of God, all types of love exist. That love, never ends and the work and glory continues until all souls are recovered. Grace is sparked between parent and child and the parent works and sacrifices and the child works to receive. One by one, lights are turned on. One by one, the journeys are made. One by one, love evolves.
Mati W, I think you misunderstood. My grievance is with LDS parents who reject or disown their children when the children make a conscious choice to part ways with the Church, whatever the reason. That’s a despicable thing for a parent to do, but the rhetoric from Church leaders seems to place such a high value on assuring one’s place in the next life that it gives a pass to parenting failures in this life, rather than call those parents to repentance.
And in some (but not all) cases, parents are directly to blame for kids’ leaving the Church in the first place. I know many young folks, including several in my extended family, who have decided to leave the Church largely because they are done with having a weird high-demand religion forced down their throat for 18+ years.
Marvelous Mortimer, that will save my soul. Amor vincit omnia.
Indeed, amor vincit omnia.