Progression Between Kingdoms

Below are a few quotes about our progression between kingdoms.  There is not a ton of material on this topic.  However, I’ve included a few engaging quotes on the topic.  The main question that they invite (IMO) is HOW do we progress between kingdoms.  The first quote logically requires that we lose our bodies when we progress between kingdoms.  This requires multiple probations.  However, there may be other ways to interpret this and the mechanism for how this works is unexplained anywhere as far as I’m aware.  That is: do we go down to a new earth or the same earth?  If we have a new earth each probation, how does the atonement apply to us?  Do we end up with multiple saviors?  If we stay at the same earth, how are we to understand the workings of the atonement in our lives – that is, do we get a clean slate each time we get a new body?  Do our works from each probation count in our favor (or against us) in the new probation? etc.  I invite your comments below: please share why you think these quotes should be interpreted to support either of these ideas or some other idea.
Please feel free to include your own quotes in your reasoning but please do not bother sharing any quotes post 1920 unless you think they are particularly persuasive from an academic (rather than religious) perspective.  Quotes post 1920 tend to do nothing more than decry these teachings as speculative and false and are therefore not helpful for this discussion.

Heber C. Kimball | 11/22/1857
[This has been used to say each probation is 1,000+ years but it is out of context – “Dispensation” in 1828 means to dispense good or evil or law; the context of this quote is that we cannot see the Father in this earthly flesh]

Joseph always told us that we would have to pass by sentinels that are placed between us and our Father and God.  Then, of course, we are conducted along from this probation to other probations, or from one dispensation to another, by those who conducted those dispensations. …

Will any man ever be redeemed upon any other principle than what we are redeemed upon? No. Men must abide the same law, or God Almighty will never redeem them. If they violate that law, they bring damnation upon themselves, and must suffer the consequences of it. Still, I believe the greater part of the inhabitants of the earth will be redeemed; yea, all will be finally redeemed, except those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost or shed innocent blood; and they never can be redeemed until that debt is paid. And I do not know any way for them to pay it, unless they are brought back again to a mortal existence, and pay the debt where they contracted it. God will make every man pay off the debt he contracts; for a restoration must take place, which has been spoken of by the mouth of all the holy Prophets since the world began.     | JD 6:63, 67 |


D&C 93:33-34
For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive fullness of joy.  And when separated, man cannot receive fullness of joy.  

(Joseph J. Dewey, in an article entitled “Eternal Lives,” notes the logical conclusion required via modus tollens: “I will make a statement that is beyond refute: If a fullness of joy is produced by an inseparable connection of the body and spirit, and since those in the lower kingdoms (telestial and terrestrial) do not have fullness of joy then their spirits and bodies are not inseparably connected and must die again.”  No logician would refute this conclusion as it is mathematically provable so long as the statement in D&C 93:33 is true. See also D&C 76:77 – they can have the presence of the Son but not the Father – because the Father is further advanced.

If this is literally true, then this suggests that Jesus retained those essential parts of his immortal tabernacle but they were further clothed and covered by a mortal tabernacle, which allowed him to retain his powers of godhood while remaining man on earth, subject to death – or at least, a mortal death.  If this is correct, Jesus’ empty tomb can only be explained if Jesus simply burned it up with his glory when he was resurrected …)


Brigham Young | 07/10/1853
To live as I am, without progress, is not life, in fact we may say that it is impossible.  There is no such principle in existence, neither can there be.  All organized existence is in progress, either to an endless advancement in eternal perfections, or back to dissolution.  You may explore all the eternities that have been, were it possible, then come to that which we now understand according to the principles of natural philosophy, and where is there an element, an individual living thing, an organized body, of whatever nature that continues as it is?  It cannot be found.  All things that have come within the bounds of man’s limited knowledge – the things he naturally understands, teach him that there is no period in all the eternities, wherein organized existence will become stationary, that it cannot advance in knowledge, wisdom, power, and glory.

If a man could ever arrive at the point that would put an end to the accumulation of life – the point at which he could increase no more, and advance no further, we should naturally say he commenced to decrease at the same point.  Again, when he has gained the zenith of knowledge, wisdom, and power, it is the point at which he begins to retrograde:  his natural abilities will begin to contract, and so he will continue to decrease until all he knew is lost in the chaos of forgetfulness.  As we understand naturally this is the conclusion we must come to, if a termination to the increase of life and the acquisition of knowledge is true.

Because of the weakness of human nature, it must crumble to the dust.  But in all the revolutions and changes in the existence of men in the eternal world which they inhabit, and in the knowledge they have obtained as people on the earth, there is no such thing as principle, power, wisdom, knowledge, life, position, or anything that can be imagined, that remains stationary – they must increase or decrease …

Nothing less than the privilege of increasing eternally, in every sense of the word, can satisfy the immortal spirit.  If the endless stream of knowledge from the eternal fountain could all be drunk in by organized intelligences, so sure immortality would come to an end, and all eternity be thrown upon the retrograde path.

Now understand, to choose life is to choose principles that will lead you to an eternal increase, and nothing short of them will produce life in the resurrection for the faithful.  Those that choose death, make choice of the path which leads to the end of their organization.  The one leads to endless increase and progression, the other to the destruction of the organized being, ending in its entire decomposition into the particles that compose the native elements.  Is this so in all cases, you inquire?  Yes, for aught I know.  I shall not pretend to deny but what it is so in all cases …. 

In consequence of some expressions of the ancient servants of God, has come the tradition of the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You hear some of them preach and teach that which I never taught:  you hear them preach people into hell.  Such a doctrine never entered into my heart:  but you hear others preach, that people will go there to dwell throughout the endless ages of eternity.  Such persons know no more about eternity, and are no more capable of instructing others upon the subject, than a little child.  They tell about going to hell, “where the worms dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” where you must dwell.  How long?  Why, I should say, just as long as you please.     | JD 1:34953 |


Brigham Young | 08/03/1845
“We find that there is one eternal resurrection, one eternal change from one state to another, from one degree to another…”

| CDBY 1:91 (Ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Smith-Petit Foundation, Salt Lake City, 2009), Nauvoo, Illinois |


Orson Pratt | 10/06/1853
And thus, all the different portions of the earth have been and will be disposed of to the lawful heirs; while those who cannot prove their heirship to be legal, of who cannot prove that they have received any portion of the earth by promise, will be cast out into some other kingdom or world, where, if they ever get an inheritance, they will have to earn it by keeping the law of meekness during another probation.     | JD 1:332-333 |

(This suggests that even if they inherit a telestial/terrrestrial/celestial kingdom, they will have to obtain an exalted inheritance through another probation.)


Heber C. Kimball | 10/05/1856
We have not as yet any durable location; we are merely probationers in this present state, and we shall always be so until we obtain a permanent exaltation, by following in the footsteps of our God.     | JD 4:119 |

(In other words, we cycle through probations until we qualify ourselves for exaltation – not just salvation.)


George Q. Cannon | 01/22/1898
There are different degrees of glory. Some attain to a more exalted glory. They must help those who are lower to rise up to their plane. Then there is another degree below them, and they must labor to lift those who are lower than they, progressing from one degree of glory to another, without end, because there is no end to eternity, no end to glory.”     | Millennial Star No. 8 Vol. LXI page 117; published 02/23/1899 |


Hyrum Smith | 08/01/1843
Those of the Terrestrial Glory either advance to the Celestial or recede to the Telestial [or] else the moon could not be a type. it “waxes & wanes”. Also that br[other] George will be quickened by celestial glory having been ministered to by one of that Kingdom.

| “Words of the Prophet”, p. 24 (“Scriptural Items”; a small booklet of the statements made by Joseph and Hyrum Smith kept by Franklin D. Richards); CHO [Church Historian’s Office – put in abbreviations page] ?Ms/d/4409/Misc Minutes Collection as cited in Progression Between Kingdoms by Richard Ware |


Brigham Young | 08/05/1855
I attended a prayer circle in the evening. … In conversing upon various principles, President Young thought none would inherit this earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be croowned as Gods and able to endure the fulness of the presence of God except they might be permitted to take with them some servants for whom they would be held responsible. All others would have to inherit another kingdom, even that kingdom agreeing with the law which they had kept. He thought they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom but it would be a slow progress. | WWJ |


Franklin D. Richards  | 05/17/1884
Let me remind you of another interesting feature in this allegory, and that is this: The Savior tells us that the terrestrial glory or kingdom, is likened unto the glory of the moon,[1] which is not of the brightness of the sun, neither of the smallness nor dimness of the stars. But those others who have no part in marrying [2] or giving of marriage in the last resurrection, they become as stars, and even differ from each other in glory; but those in the terrestrial kingdom are those who will come forth at the time when Enoch comes back, when the Savior comes again to dwell upon the earth. When Father Abraham will be there with the Urim and Thummin to look after every son and daughter of his race; to make known all things that are needed to be known, and with them enter into their promised inheritance. Thus the people of God will go forward. They will go forward, like unto the new moon, increasing in knowledge and brightness and glory, until they come to a fullness of celestial glory. During the Millennium multitudes of people who have not heard the gospel will hear and receive it and go forward into this glory, while those who will not go forward to a fullness will go back [3]to that lesser glory which is likened unto the stars of heaven. | JD 25:235b-36a |


[1] D&C 76:71,78, 81, 97, 128:23; cf also 1 Cor. 15:41
[2] this may suggest there is some level of marriage/partnership in the Terrestrial kingdom
[3] “go back” – does this refer to another probation here? This earth is in its telestial state; the previous sentence says the terrestrial will increase in glory until they obtain a fulness; this says celestial “go back”