Monday, September 26, 2011

1845 LDS Article on Heaven

The following article, "Heaven", is taken from Orson Pratt, The Prophetic Almanac, for 1846: Being the Second After Bissextile or Leap Year (New York: New York Messenger Office, 1846), 3-5. It earlier appeared in The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 6/6 (1 September 1845): 85-86. I presume that one of the Pratt brothers is the author, probably Parley Pratt.

A planetary system where there is no death, sickness, pain, want, misery, oppression, ignorance, error, doubt, fear, sin or sorrow; where the inhabitants enjoy eternal life, and live in love and union with each other. Where each bosom is a mirror, where eternal truth is reflected, and from which emanates the purest affections, without any mixture of falsehood, hatred, selfishness, jealousy, pride or envy.

Where is such a planet located?

At present, no doubt, there are many such worlds among those shining orbs on high; for instance the planet where Jesus has gone to dwell; and where Enoch, Elijah, and all those who have been translated or raised from the dead have their present home.

But our earth is destined eventually to be redeemed from death, sin, and the curse, and to be regenerated, melted, purified, by fire, and renewed in such a manner as to constitute a celestial kingdom, or in other words a heaven of immortal felicity. When this comes to pass, there will be no more death, no more pain, or sorrow. Man will then live on this earth for ever. And even those who are gone from it for a season, will then return and dwell here forever in the flesh.

Job will then see his Redeemer in the flesh, and dwell with him on the earth.

Adam and Eve will then hold the dominion committed to them at the first.

Abraham will then come into his everlasting inheritance in the land of Canaan, and will dwell there with Isaac and Jacob, and all their children, and thus the promises will be fulfilled, which have been spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began, in relation to the promised inheritance to the chosen seed.

Then the inhabitants of the earth will be governed by apostles and prophets, instead of their pretended successors, under the name of popes, bishops and clergy. And instead of contentions about the succession to the 'Chair of Peter', Peter will be here to fill his own chair, as it is written, 'Ye that have followed me, shall, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall come in his glory, sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

When death, sickness, pain and sorrow are banished from the earth; when sin and all its cursed effects have ceased to operate; when darkness, ignorance and error shall pass away; when Jesus Christ shall be King, and the patriarchs, prophets and Apostles of old become kings, governors, magistrates, judges, and civil rulers; when the mountains are thrown down, and the valleys exalted; when the crooked places become straight and the rough places smooth; when cities are built, and houses and temples reared and furnished in the most durable and elegant manner, with a word; when gold is used for paving streets; when men walk in pure white linen, and eat and drink of the fruits of the earth only, instead of flesh; when flowers bloom in eternal spring, and fruits ripen in profuse succession every month of the year; when children are born without pain, and reared without sin; when Rebecca lives again on the earth, and becomes the mother of thousands of millions according to the blessings and good wishes of her friends, when she went to become the wife of Isaac. When life and law eternal reigns, and God and his tabernacle are with man on the earth forever. Then will earth be heaven and heaven be earth. And then shall man know and understand that nothing was made in vain, but that all things were created for the glory and pleasure of God, and the enjoyment of his creatures.


  1. How does such a place coincide with the idea that there is opposition in all things?

  2. How does such a place coincide with the idea that there is opposition in all things?

    Good question, Chris! Not being LDS myself, the phrase "opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11) has never really been a part of my framework, but I'm going to see if I can devise an answer that the author of this article might have accepted.

    When I read 2 Nephi 2, one of the major points I see it making is that many of the higher goods are ones that can only come about in conjunction with ills (although some of the lesser goods can perhaps be gotten without these ills). Thus, while Adam and Eve in the Garden could have retained the lesser good of natural innocence, obtaining the greater good of actual righteousness could only occur in conjunction with conquering the ill of actual sin - the greater good required an accompanying ill (see 2 Nephi 2:22-23).

    God's plan for us, however, in fact required righteousness, and so it was necessary that there should also be 'anti-righteousness', i.e., sin, since only thereby could righteousness be obtained. (In this idea, I see some intriguing comparisons with Alvin Plantinga's supralapsarian theodicy, though Plantinga and I would both probably soften the sense of necessity involved.) However, if I've understood 2 Nephi 2 rightly, it is not required that any individual should *always* endure the opposition, any more than the continued growth of a given plant should require the continual 'death' of more seeds. Hence, though the plan of salvation requires that any particular iteration of its pattern must include sin and suffering, this does not need to persist in the final stage, i.e., a celestialized world or heaven. Therefore, the sort of heaven described is compatible with "opposition in all things" so long as the opposition at any given local level occurs there prior to celestialization and is in fact a necessary prerequisite for celestialization.

    Now, the only potential discrepancy I can see between this article and this explanation is the depiction of children being "born without pain, and reared without sin" on the celestialized earth. It would seem at first glance that these children, by being born in a deathless celestial kingdom, are a clear counterexample to "opposition in all things". However, if they are in fact spirit-children who will endure sin and suffering in a subsequent iteration of the plan of salvation process, then this particular difficulty vanishes.

    There is still one difficulty that might bother me a bit, and that's where a sinless Savior figure such as Jesus would fit into an "opposition in all things" scenario. Did his righteousness also arise through sin and suffering? Well, as an Evangelical, my response would be twofold: Christ, as God, has an innate natural righteousness that differs from any we can acquire; and in the incarnation, Christ also became complete in humanity through enduring suffering. I'm not sure whether the LDS author of this article could have made use of the first prong of that answer, but he might have been able to make some headway with the second.