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My lifestyle determines my death style


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Generally speaking, LDS doctrine is sensible enough to me. I'm obviously sold enough to give up on lots of the fun that I could be having without the Church. No matter how I feel, I don't think I could embrace something that made no sense to me. So, regardless of certain points of doctrine that I don't understand/misinterpret/think are stupid, I generally understand what's going on at a level that keeps me from questioning the doctrine too much.

However, our doctrine concerning death and the purpose of the earthly life makes very little sense to me. Taken individually, many of these ideas are reasonable. Put together, it's not happening for me. The following are the biggest sticking points in my mind:

1) "This life is a probationary state". Good concept. Many other religious orientations accept some variation of the principle. Good times. I personally believe this is true. Problem is, many people don't have an opportunity to make this life a true probationary state, mostly through early death. Is it possible that these are just the spirits that didn't need this time? I guess so, but it doesn't strike me as especially likely. And if they didn't need this time, why the doctrinal emphasis on this life? If you can develop before you even hit this life, much less the spirit world, to a point that you don't need this life for anything other than a body, how is this life a probationary state? OK, the foreknowledge of God could figure out who would pass these tests and so could stuff the spirits into circumstances where they would leave this life early. Fine. But doesn't that mean that they lose out on the development that would come from actually enduring to the end in this life? I know that I grow even when I overcome basically simple tests. I guess lives have to be able to end early if agency is to be complete, but this undermines the "this life is special, indispensible, and basically essential" claim something fierce. Makes more sense to me to say that this is basically eighty five years of Cardinal baseball and spiritual development.

2) The "dying in your sins" line. Spencer Dubya Kimball wrote something in The Miracle of Forgiveness (a favorite book) that I was initially (and am still) amused by, but that bothers me more every time I remember it. Upon meeting a fellow that wouldn't repent of adultery or some similar sin, Spencer drops this: "Don't have an accident. Don't you dare die until this is resolved."

Just a figure of speech? Sure hope so. Every dead person that I knew during their mortal sojourn died in some degree of sin. And some of these folks were terrific, wonderful people. Is that no Celestial K for them? To hear Kimball's statement that "repentance is always worthwhile, but spirit world repentance cannot make up for what should have been done on earth" (more than a paraphrase, worse than a quotation) sure indicates something like that.

Is this just for the really serious sins? Define that group adequately and I'll buy your argument.

(Note to reader: I don't believe that every word spoken by a GA constitutes scripture. If you do, the above argument should be even more compelling. Verses such as 2 Nephi 9:38, Mosiah 15:26, Alma 12:16, and Moroni 10:26 worry me a lot more, although I think these scriptures can be interpreted as referring to spiritual death in most cases. What do you all think of these scriptures with reference to the above concerns?)

3) Aborted babies/those that die before the age of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom. I think this is basically a nice sounding lie. No man may be saved in ignorance. Again, foreknowledge could fix this, but it seems really unlikely, especially when you consider agency's interposition. This is much better doctrine than the "hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptized babies" claims of others, but I simply don't buy it.

4) The dichotomy between the happiness of spirit paradise and spirit prison. I'm not so much puzzled by this one, as I don't think dichotomies of this nature are just very often. I'm guessing someone can explain this one better for me, since I don't have much of a grasp.

So whatcha think? Should I just be really careful on my bike, lest a handlebar slip cost me the celestial kingdom?


5 Responses to “My lifestyle determines my death style”

  1. Blogger lchan 

    You should be careful on your bike, but just because you want to stick around (and head wounds aren't fun, either).

    Personally, I have a hard time with most discussions about eternity/the afterlife, whatever you want to call it. I just don't see how any of us can know anything about it, really. I'm just hoping we'll all actually be there.

    If we are all there, I don't see why we couldn't repent, or keep figuring stuff out. I don't think someone who lives a long life has an edge (or a disadvantage) over someone who died young. That doesn't make sense to me.

    I don't have a problem with the idea that people who die before "the age of accountability" are saved. I don't buy that No man may be saved in ignorance. But, I don't really even know what that means, in a way.

    And, if I try to figure out where aborted babies fit into all of it, I think my head might actually explode.

  2. Anonymous Steve (FSF) 

    A doctrine can only approximate at best an eternal truth or concept that probably can’t be fully described in early terms. In the end a doctrinal focus is a dead end that distracts from the essence of the faith. The church continuously improves (I know some get bent out of shape when I say that; tough ____, it's true.). Just listen in conference; we are no longer a doctrinally based church. We're a grace preaching church today and concepts like SWK's (written before he was church pres) are a distant silly memory. Granted, many LDS haven’t noticed the transition and still cling to the old CofJCofLDS of the bag of complicated stuff that obscures JC. Ironically, I think in hindsight we can credit "conservative" pres Benson for starting the transition; quite a quiet shrewd radical he turned out to be.

    In a nutshell, we should develop faith in JC that we’ll be there for us at the judgment, so the judgment passes over us thanks to his grace. Works are how we serve JC, not a mechanism by which we somehow earn salvation. His grace is a gift that cannot be earned and for which none are worthy.

  3. Anonymous Susan M 

    Didn't JS teach that children who died young will be raised during the Millenium, or something like that? My memory's really poor. It seems like I also remember reading something about children being resurrected as children and their resurrected bodies will grow?

  4. Anonymous Sue M 

    Otter Pops!!!

  5. Anonymous Sue M 

    Hmmmm, that was supposed to go under another post. Sorry, I'm an idiot.

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