Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Looking Past Lenin's Tomb

Greetings from Russia! What a fabulous country with warm, interesting people and so much culture. Here's a quick thought based on contemplation of Lenin's tomb (and tombs everywhere). Does he still exist? Whether you think he was a hero or villain, is there anything to the human being known as Lenin besides the body in that tomb? Is the spirit just the "life force" that vanishes when one dies, only to be recreated later for final judgment?

As a Latter-day Saint, a belief in the persistence of the human soul is an important part of my view of the world. We Latter-day Saints understand that there is a vital part of us that existed before we were born and continues to exist after we die. Indeed, we are spirit beings now clothed with flesh - here just once to obtain a body and prepare for the Resurrection and immortality (we reject reincarnation). Our spirits are children of our Heavenly Father and persist regardless of what happens to this body. Thus, Lenin still exists as a spirit in the "spirit world," and what is in the tomb is relatively immaterial, so to speak. Our thoughts, memories, personality, etc., indeed, the "self," reside with the spirit when we die. On the day of Resurrection, the spirit will be reclothed with the body.

The belief that humans have living, persistent spirits makes a lot of sense to me, and I think that is the most reasonable way to make sense of many passages in the Bible. I'll discuss this in an upcoming post. Some of it will be based on an article about the dead posted on my Website. (Hint: What did Christ mean when He told the thief on the cross that he'd be with Christ that day in paradise - many hours before Christ would actually Resurrect and return to heaven, or what did Christ mean when He told the story of the rich man in Hades and Lazarus? What did Christ mean in Luke 24 when He told his disciples not to be afraid because a spirit doesn't have the tangible flesh and bones that Christ had then? Many more such questions....)

I understand that there are other views from people who also cherish the Bible. Yes, it's always possible to come up with alternate views on every matter of theology. I know some people whose view seems to be that we are pretty much completely gone at death, and that the Lord recreates us an immortal version of us for the day of judgment - a body with our thoughts and memories restored, but with no need for a persistent soul. I struggle with that concept. If I'm a monster in this life and vanish at death, it seems like I would have escaped without justice. Should I be troubled if a copy of me gets recreated and punished later? Ditto for the blessings of accepting the Gospel - forming a clone, so to speak, with my memories and giving him eternal life is nice, but would that really be me?

I guess Star Trek poisoned my theological openness here. As a child and teenager, I used to love the concept of beaming around to places and wanted to invent a transporter beam one day. But then I ran into a Star Trek book and an episode that explained the details of the device. When people entered the transporter beam, the transporter destroyed you one molecule at a time and the made a complete copy somewhere else. In other words, it killed you, but - good news - made a clone somewhere else. Nobody noticed the difference - except, perhaps, humans with a spirit who would suddenly find themselves in the spirit world right after speaking their own death sentence: "Beam me uip (or down), Scotty." Yeah, that bothered me. Making another working model somewhere else just doesn't seem comforting (I've never allowed myself to be beamed anywhere, for the record, so I've still got my original soul, I think.)

Oh boy, I can see what jet lag does. Never mind. Greetings from Russia!


(Lenin's tomb.)


10 comments:

Halibut said...

I love the pictures of the women wearing fur coats. I note that in the picture there is a cart with what appears to be food on it. The cart seems very old.

I hope you are going to come home with a big fur hat to use in the Wisconsin winters.

Anonymous said...

What if your spirit could zoom along at the speed of light waiting for your body to be re-materialized?

This begs the question about what part of your body is attached to your spirit. It isn't the heart or other organs that have been transplanted. That leaves the brain -- some people have lived and functioned even with part of their brain removed. Just an interesting discussion point.

Mormanity said...

Actually, two of those women are men.

Teranno4x4 said...

Dear Jeff,

Greetings to you in Moscow. Is it cold enough over there yet? I went to one of the former Soviet nations on a February some time back and was shocked at how the temperature at night dropped down to -32C.

As a Bible believing Christian, I would like to state my beliefs as they do differ from the ones that you have described within your post.

I do not believe in a former existence. I do not believe in a so called 'spirit world'. I do not believe that people go straight to heaven when they die ("without passing Go!"). I believe in the Biblical direct translation that God breathed life (ruach) into Adam at his creation. How one defines this life is the basis on which a theology is established. I see it no more than the gentle way in which God introduces oxygen into our vital organs, so that the whole scientific process of living matter can be understood. I also believe in two resurrections. The righteous at the second coming of Jesus (in the air) and the wicked after the millennium, when the New Jerusalem descends to the earth. I also believe that the resurrected being will not be a copy or a clone of the original, but that it will be THE ORIGINAL restored.

Man has made many artificial objects and can re-produce from existing matter (even to the extent of cloning whole creatures, which I am against). But man can not produce a tree from raw carbon materials nor find the scientific understanding for 'life' itself. It seems that this gift is really from God and exclusive to Him.

On expiry at death, the physical matter returns to the earth and the 'ruach' (breath of God) or 'life' returns back to God. The living thing ceases to exist.

If one introduces spirits into this equation now, then from my own perspective general theology starts to get a bit untidy.

For example some questions that maybe you can answer for me from the LDS perspective? My LDS friends could not address these comfortably when in discussion and complained that I was questioning their foundational beliefs, but for me they are extremely important issues to consider.

1. Where does the animal kingdom fit into this structure in terms of spirits ?

2. If spirits pre-existed man in order to 'progress' spiritually, how can they 'return to God' on death of the body, when LDS believe that they will enter into a spirit prison that suggests that they are seperate from God (if you literally read and believe the verse in 1 Peter 3:19)? Even if you suggest that some return to God and some to prison, that denotes a judgement, which is not the meaning of the Hebrew. As we both know, Biblical judgement is not made at the time of death. So when is this judgement made and how and why is it performed ?

3. What do spirits know? Do they contain the memories and knowledge from human existence? What about babies that died a cot-death that had no knowledge, human development or experience? Is this a fair system for them as undeveloped beings?

4. Can spirits see what is still happening in the world now ? Is it fair that they witness the suffering of loved ones if they can ? If they can't see anything, then why not ? Do they influence our world in any way ?

5. If you attribute the spirit world to our existence, then what part do the angels play in the heavenly order of ministering to us ? Hebrews 1 : 13,14.

6. What are evil spirits that are depicted throughout the Bible? Are they not demons that are from the evil angelic host of satan ? Can spirits transfer between angelic and demonic? When and how? Who controls this or when was it defined for them?

7. What is the point of a resurrection of a body, if there is a life form 'spirit' existence that is already immortal and can not die ?

8. Can any pro-LDS commenter claim to have experienced or have experience of another 'spirit' (without body) from the 'spirit world' other than the one that lives inside you ?

9. What does the 'second' death mean (Rev20:14) ?

I hope that you do not see these questions as ambiguous 'anti' propoganda, but genuine questions of interest that from my own Biblical knowledge of scripture, I am keen to read your reply. They are not intended to put you or your pro-LDS commenters 'on the spot' or for 'entrapment' or to de-fame, but to open up and find out what your belief is based on, as I think I understand the LDS point of view for this topic of what happens after you die.

If necessary, please do think of the questions from 'Lenin's' perpective. What is he doing now, where is he and why is he there, is it possible he is reading this topic too ?

Teranno4x4

Shadow Spawn said...

teranno4X4,

That's strange that your LDS friends would find it uncomfortable answering those questions. I don't think your questions would put any LDS person who seriously studies the principles of the LDS religion "on the spot" so to speak.

Somehow though, I get the feeling that you already know enough of the LDS beliefs that you already know the answers to the questions your asking. Your questions to me seem to be an attempt to bait someone into debating with you. I know you said that this wasn't your intention, and maybe it really isn't, but that is how you seem to come off.

I expect however that there are plenty on this site that would be willing to answer some of your questions, and even debate them with you. It's too late at the moment for me, and I already have carpal tunnel just from typing this much. I'll check back, and if nobody has responded, I'd be glad to take up some of these topics with you.

Fingers said...

I'll take a shot at it. Be warned, some of this is more my own interpretation based on principles, rather than something directly addressed by the church.



1. Where does the animal kingdom fit into this structure in terms of spirits ?

My understanding is animals do have spirits. Only official word I have on that off the top of my head are the chapter headings in the LDS edition of the King James Bible, where it indicates certain beasts (particularly the ones associated with the throne of God) seen in various old and new testament visions actually also represent literal beats. Also, Balaam's donkey is a powerful example of that to me - the King James says the angel "unstopped" the animal's mouth, allowing it the capability to express itself, not that it simply made the donkey a conduit for the angel's words. As for where they'd live in the the worlds to come, I don't know.


2. If spirits pre-existed man in order to 'progress' spiritually, how can they 'return to God' on death of the body, when LDS believe that they will enter into a spirit prison that suggests that they are seperate from God (if you literally read and believe the verse in 1 Peter 3:19)? Even if you suggest that some return to God and some to prison, that denotes a judgement, which is not the meaning of the Hebrew. As we both know, Biblical judgement is not made at the time of death. So when is this judgement made and how and why is it performed ?

In LDS doctrine, after death there is a division into paradise and spirit prison, as you are obviously aware. God does not dwell in paradise - the return hasn't happened at that point, so I see no issue there. On the issue of judgement, but my own understanding is that division is more a result of the state of the minds and spirits of individuals as they left the earth, rather than a judgement, and it is certainly not the final judgment.


3. What do spirits know? Do they contain the memories and knowledge from human existence? What about babies that died a cot-death that had no knowledge, human development or experience? Is this a fair system for them as undeveloped beings?

After death, spirits at least know what they knew on earth. Again, my own understanding based on extrapolation is that those in paradise also have the veil removed, and remember the pre-Earth life as well. That would include those who die before reaching the age of accountability. Those spirits would remember ages of experience before life, and so would not be in the stunted state you postulate. Those in spirit prison might not have that barrier lifted - otherwise they'd all convert without complaint immediately, and there'd be no need to teach them, which is contrary to repeated LDS statements that Christ, during his 3 days in the tomb, opened such a ministry to those who departed without knowledge of the gospel.


4. Can spirits see what is still happening in the world now ? Is it fair that they witness the suffering of loved ones if they can ? If they can't see anything, then why not ? Do they influence our world in any way ?

First and last parts, yes. Modern prophets have repeatedly had visions where they spoke and received guidance and advice from prior prophets (B. Young's vision of Joseph stands out). Is it fair? I dunno, is it fair for God to watch his children destroy themselves?


5. If you attribute the spirit world to our existence, then what part do the angels play in the heavenly order of ministering to us ? Hebrews 1 : 13,14.

Angels and human spirits are one and the same, just at different points in the plan. Angels can be human spirits before birth, or after birth, or after resurrection (a handful of individuals have already resurrected, usually through immediate translation. Among them Elijah, Moroni, etc.). Several times in the KJV individuals referred to as angels are actually mortal men. And we do believe in the ministering of angels.



6. What are evil spirits that are depicted throughout the Bible? Are they not demons that are from the evil angelic host of satan ? Can spirits transfer between angelic and demonic? When and how? Who controls this or when was it defined for them?

Yes, they are Satan's fallen angelic host. He drew away a third of the host of heaven when he rebelled in the pre-existance. They kept not their first estate, and the decision was made.


7. What is the point of a resurrection of a body, if there is a life form 'spirit' existence that is already immortal and can not die ?

The body is an essential element of our souls. We cannot be complete, or reach our full potential without them. I'm sure you're aware of the LDS doctrine of deification - it can't be done without a body, you can't create children in the worlds to come without a body. I'm probably not fully capturing it, but the essence is God has a body, and God wants us to become like him.


8. Can any pro-LDS commenter claim to have experienced or have experience of another 'spirit' (without body) from the 'spirit world' other than the one that lives inside you ?

Personally, no. But modern prophets, and people I know and trust, have conveyed such experiences to me.


9. What does the 'second' death mean (Rev20:14) ?

The second death is the separation from God. At this exact moment I'm unclear as to whether that occurs in this life as a result of our sin, or describes the final judgment. If the former, the atonement of Christ can overcome that death as well and bring us to God.

Mormanity said...

Question for Terrano: What form did Jesus Christ have before being born? What changed when He took on a mortal body? What changed when He became Resurrected?

From our perspective, Christ existed before the foundation of the world and was a being of spirit. He was clothed with a mortal body during His earthly ministry, and then received an immortal physical body joined to His spirit upon Resurrection. This is the pattern that we also go through.

Lars said...

Some help for Fingers on the spirits of animals: DC 77:2, specifically addressing the beasts surrounding the throne of God in the book of Revelation; DC 29:24-25, animals being present in heaven; Moses 3:19, animals received spirits to become alive just as Adam did.

Teranno4x4 said...

Dear Fingers,

Many thanks for your insightful comments. I won't take them as 'official' LDS engineered, but am pleased for the insight for further understanding, which I appreciate. I will attempt to write more later....

Dear Jeff,

Many thanks for your reply and further questions.

I do not speak on behalf of any denomination. My views are simply my own experience and opinion.

It is too hypothetical to be able to make any sound theology over the nature of God or the matter / Being of God in the entirity of the Godhead.

I believe in God the Father, I believe in Jesus as God the Son and I also believe in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is as defined. He is the one that is living amongst us, talking to each and every one of us, counselling us and pointing us to Jesus, so that He can then dwell within us.

Jesus is more difficult. Both He and the Father I prefer to define as celestial. This term defines a state which is completely unknown to us. It defines Jesus pre-earthly state where he dwelt and lived as a man in human form. Once He was resurrected, he was still recognised in human form, but He returned to a celestial state.

To talk about spirit form, progressing to body and spirit form, death separating body and spirit, only for the resurrection to reunite body and spirit (all small s - note), this is a doctrine that I can not accept from the knowledge that I possess from the Bible. There come too many questions about an immortal spirit and the 'need' for a body, such as what is the point and importance.....etc, etc.

Going back to the example that you wanted me to expand on - Jesus, I seehim as the "I am" presented to Moses at the burning bush. I see Jesus as the pillar of Fire and the pillar of Cloud that travelled with the children of Israel. I see Jesus as one of the three travellers that visited and ate with Abraham outside his tents. I see Jesus as the God who walked with Enoch and then translated him. Finally I see Jesus as our Saviour that communed and ate with the disciples after His resurrection on the lake shore.

The difference between each state? God made man in His own image. What is an image ? A reflection, a likeness, an impression ? Hebrews tells us that Jesus was made a 'little lower than the angels' and that He is now crowned with 'glory and honour'? Why - because satan the arch-enemy is a defeated foe and has been exposed throughout the whole universe for the pure evil that he is. he is running scared now and is planning on taking many unwitting people with him and his angels.

Jesus died as an innocent sacrifice for the salvation of this whole world. The invitation is open to all, but not everyone will accept.

Bible verses to support :
Jesus as the Word and the Light:
John 1
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2The same was in the beginning with God.
3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Isiah 9:6,7
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus is the child born who is also our everlasting Father, mighty God ? What is Isiah saying here ?

These verses are the very reasons that I refuse to state any definition on the state of Jesus pre-earthly existence and post-resurrection other than defined celestial. As our creator God - John 1:3, He holds the keys for scientific dimensions of understanding that we may never comprehend, but are obviously possible through His Word. I accept this through my faith in Him and will not argue over whether celestial means body, spirit or both. Understanding someone else's opinion for reasons of logic is always intriguing though.

Teranno4x4

Teranno4x4 said...

Dear Fingers,

I hope that you are still reading this topic... ?

I will respond to the answers that you kindly made, by denoting the numbers of the original questions for ease of reference...

1. If animals have spirits, isn't this belief similar to that of the buddhist that believe in re-incarnation at some point in history as another organism (dependent on the last life lived )? If animals have spirits, then is there a spitit world for animals ? How does God fairly define which spirit is human and which is animal (especially for the final judgement for purpose of one's salvation)?

2. You determine paradise to be different from heaven. Other religions define it as purgatory, the inbetween or the weigh-station. Is this correct ?

The Bible clearly discusses heaven and the city of God which is the New Jerusalem. Jesus talks about it openly in John 14:1-4. Can you tell me where Jesus spoke about the place 'in between' ?

In the NT paradeisos occurs only in Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7. In 2 Cor. 12:2–4 “paradise” is obviously synonymous with “heaven.” The fact that Paul refers to no earthly “paradise” is doubly clear from the fact he equates being “caught up” to “heaven” with being “caught up” to “paradise.” According to Rev. 2:7 the “tree of life” is said to be “in the midst of the paradise of God,” whereas in Rev. 21:1–3, 10; Rev. 22:1–5 the tree of life is associated with the new earth, the New Jerusalem, the river of life, and the throne of God. There can be no doubt whatever that NT usage of paradeisos consistently makes it synonymous with “heaven.”
Therefore, when Jesus assured the thief of a place with Him in “paradise,” He referred to the “many mansions” of His “Father’s house” and to the time when He would “receive” unto Himself His own (see on John 14:1–3). Throughout His ministry Jesus had specifically stated that He would “reward every man according to his works” when He returned in triumph “in the glory of his Father with his angels” (see on Matt. 16:27). Not until that time will He invite the saved of earth to “inherit the kingdom prepared for” them “from the foundation of the world” (see on Matt. 25:31, 34; cf. Rev. 22:21). Paul taught that those who fall asleep in Jesus will come forth from their graves at Christ’s second coming (see 1 Cor. 15:20–23) to receive immortality (vs. 51–55). The resurrected righteous and righteous living will “be caught up together … to meet the Lord in the air,” and thus “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). The thief will, accordingly, be “with” Jesus in “paradise” following the resurrection of the just, at His second coming.
It should be noted that the comma between the words “thee” and “to day” was inserted by the translators. The original Greek text, which had neither punctuation nor word division (see p. 115) reads: ameµn soi legoµ seµmeron met emou eseµ en toµ paradeisoµ, literally, “truly to-you I-say today with-me you-will-be in the paradise.” The adverb seµmeron, “today,” stands between the two verbs legoµ, “I-say,” and eseµ, “you-will-be,” and might properly apply to either. Its position immediately following the verb legoµ, “I-say,” may imply a closer grammatical relationship to it than to the verb eseµ, “you will be.”
Obviously, in placing the comma before the word “to day,” the translators were guided by the unscriptural concept that the dead enter into their rewards at death. But, as set forth above, it is manifest that neither Jesus nor the writers of the NT believed or taught such a doctrine. To place the comma before the word “today” thus makes Christ contradict what He and the various NT writers have plainly stated elsewhere. Accordingly, the Scriptures themselves require that the comma be placed after the word “to day,” not before it. See on John 4:35, 36.
Thus what Christ actually said to the thief on the cross was: “Verily I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with me in paradise.” The great question the thief was pondering at the moment was not when he would reach paradise, but whether he would get there at all. Jesus’ simple statement assures him that, however undeserving he may be and however impossible it may appear for Jesus — dying the death of a condemned criminal — to make good such a promise, the thief will most assuredly be there. In fact, it was Jesus’ presence on the cross that made such a hope possible.

So you see God does live in the paradise described in the NT ...

3. It's not fair that from your understanding neither you nor I have no knowledge of our own pre-earth existence. But that we can learn about it only after we have died, but then if we enter into the realm of paradise.... isn't this slightly exclusive and offering the right of unfair accusation against God for those that do not have their 'veil lifted'? What is God hiding from our 'pre-existence? What advantages / disadvantages does that hold in the bigger scope of the universe ?

4,5,6,8&9. No - it is not fair that God watches us destroy ourselves, but then again - isn't that why we have Jesus as our Saviour - our get out of here ticket...? We are not forced to stay until the final end....
Translation is not the same as resurrection. No death is needed for translation, however to be translated after death, one must be resurrected in body. It is interesting to note that the Bible clearly teaches that those resurrected in the second resurrection of the wicked do not enter the New Jerusalem, but get ready to make war with it - and are then destroyed by the second death. This is final and total. there is no kind of glory here.

If angels and human spirits are the same and you believe that they can minister to us, then can the evil angels also minister too ? How does one determine one from the other, especially when the evil ones can masquerade as angels of light ? Can we make these decisions based on what we see and the evidences given or messages received? Would YOU automatically believe and obey a 'spirit' that came and spoke directly to you in vision and voice? Would you go to a medium or a clairvoyant - why not?

Personally, I see the 'ministering spirits' definition of angels more as our guardians against the unseen forces of evil (the evil angels). This is the ministering that they do for each one of us as we live by the mercy of God.

At what point can we become angels then ? My own belief is that humans were created 'lower than the angels', but will receive glory lifting them equal to the angels in status, but still well below God.

7. It would appear to me that Gabriel and the hosts of angels singing after the birth of Jesus were in a far more advanced 'holy' state than the mortal beings that Jesus had come to save. So why would Gabriel / any angel / spirit (if they are one or the same) want to leave their current existence in Glory and come to live as a man or a woman (and who decides that - or is it the luck of the random draw) ?

Think of all he people to have ever lived since Adam and Eve, plus all the people alive on the planet today. Are you suggesting that all of these were previously angels / spirits ? What will happen to those that can not get bodies (according to your doctrine) before Jesus comes to resurrect those that have died ? Will they remain in spirit state eternally or will they perish because they did not become mortal flesh in time?

I am still having difficulty with the pieces of the LDS theology so I ask forgiveneness for my ignorance in this matter as I try to comprehend your stance.

Teranno4x4