The Preexistence and Afterlife


What does Mormonism teach about heaven and why we are on earth?


Reference Links

Mormon Salvation, Heaven, and Hell
The Preexistence - Are Jesus and Satan Brothers?
Mormonism Redefines Biblical Terms
Becoming a God


Video Transcript

Mormonism teaches that life on earth is only the transitional step between the preexistence and the afterlife.

In the preexistence, God and his wife had many children. Then God decided that his children should go through a physical existence on the earth as test, during which time they will have no memory of their spiritual preexistence.

After death, everyone will pass through the spirit world, where faithful people enter into a paradise, and everybody else will suffer in spirit prison, where they will have the opportunity to accept the gospel.

Then comes the resurrection and judgment. Most people will go on to one of three levels of heaven, but the sons of perdition, who deny the Holy Spirit after having received it, will go to outer darkness where they will be punished with Satan.

The lowest level of heaven, the telestial kingdom, is generally for bad people who rejected Christ. They will be ministered to by the Holy Spirit. The next level up is the terrestrial kingdom, for those who were generally good people, fell short of earning the highest heaven. They will be visited by Jesus Christ, but cannot live with God. Both of these kingdoms are far better than earth, but people here will still be overwhelmed with regret that they did not do better.

But for Mormons who achieve perfect repentance and obedience to the law on earth, which not even the apostle Paul could do, there is the Celestial Kingdom, the highest level of heaven where God dwells. Brigham Young taught that Joseph Smith reigns there as a supreme being, and no one enters the celestial kingdom without his consent.

And only those who attain to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, known as exaltation, can spend eternity with their families. To do this, they must have been sealed in the temple. Here they become gods themselves, ruling over and populating their own planet just like God did before them.

In order to hold to this belief system, Mormons must ignore clear teachings in the Bible including; that all Christians go to live with God immediately after death, that everyone else goes to eternal torment, that only Christians are God’s children (but its an adoption), that there is no second chance for salvation after death, that there is no marriage or procreation in the resurrection, and that eternity is spent worshipping God, not being a god.

But this also highlights how Mormonism completely redefines terms from the Bible. Most importantly, ‘saved by grace’, which means that God has freely given sinful people the guarantee of salvation from hell to live with him, in spite of the fact that they can do nothing to deserve it, but obedience and good works naturally follow.

In Mormonism, ‘saved by grace’ merely means that everyone is granted immortality, but where they spend it is determined by their performance. Find out more in our references at ldsvideo.org.