Now or In the Next life?

In another thread in another forum in a galaxy far, far away, Soxfan59 wrote:

Why, then, would Jesus go and preach “unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient . . .” (1 Peter 3:19,20) if no one can be taught the gospel in the next life? See also 1 Peter 4:6.

This is not to say that it’s safe to wait until one is on one’s deathbed, or after one is dead, to repent – far from it. Here’s a quote from the Book of Mormon on this subject:

However, those who don’t get a chance to hear the gospel in this life, such as countless millions in the world don’t, are held accountable only as far as they understood the truth that they had. Obviously, if they didn’t have truth, they can’t be accountable for not knowing it, or at least not as accountable as if they had had the scriptures all their lives and had rejected them after having had a full understanding of them.

This is a good question Snark. I do not believe in general that people get another chance. That is the scripture in Luke 16:19-31, where it speaks of the rich man who died and went to Hell. He asks first for some water and then for Lazarus to go to tell his brothers. Neither request is granted. Now it does not specifically say that he was or was not given another opportunity, but I would think in his position had he been given a second chance, he would have taken it.

The other point about the person that has not heard the word. I believe that those who have heard the word of God have no excuse. But what about those who have not heard. Jesus says “I am the way, No one comes to the father but through me.” Now he never said you have to have heard the bible or even have heard of what he did. He just says that he is the only way. After all I believe that there will be people who were born before Jesus came that will be in heaven. How? Because they had a real relationship with God. They loved him. How does it work for those who have not heard? I am not sure, but I believe that Jesus reveals himself to everyone in the manner which they can understand and be able to believe in him. If they then reject him, that is their choice.

These are just my beliefs.


Well, Jeffery, the way I believe is, there is a partial judgment at the time of death, then wicked go through a hell that has an end, finally, after suffering for a long time. Then comes the final judgment, in which people are consigned either to a final state of salvation, or a final doom in hell. I don’t believe finite sin has infinite punishment. And my religion teaches that only the devil and his angels will never escape that final doom. For all the rest of humanity, they get some degree of salvation (it differs according to works).

Interesting concepts, I do not agree with them particularly, but since I do not know the whole scoop, I cannot really say. My main focus is and should be on first, my being/staying right with God and then on letting others know what I believe and helping them to gain an understanding if they are interested. God is of course the ultimate judge (and he should be, he has the qualifications).


Snarkberry: I really think that the Mormon and the anti-Mormon (in my opinon, bigoted) opinions on this issue, insofar as it applies to the dead in the grave accepting the “truth” has already been hashed out pretty well in both the Mitochondrial and the Responses to Bashing threads.

That being said, there is, however, a need to recognize, and respect, those who feel that there is such a thing as multiple reincarnation; i.e., one dies, then is reincarnated into a particular position in the next life depending on how one fared in this life in the last position granted.

To tell you the truth, I do find a particular attraction to that theory; however, I personally do not believe it to be valid.

For those who do, the question “now or next life” is really a moot point. Fro those who don’t find that position valid, there’s a greater need, personally, to act to correct one’s own self-identified failings.


Monty wrote:

Oh, okay. I totally missed the Mitochondrial thread, and only skimmed the Responses to Bashing thread, as I was not a contributing member of the board back then. I was just lurking occasionally, as I didn’t like the format of the board.

The only reason I brought up the issue now is, Soxfan59 suggested that the thread in the BBQ Pit (Arg220-let him live?) be moved to the Great Debates forum due to possible witnessing in that thread.

I agree that reincarnation is an attractive theory. The Moon being made of succulent, delicious green cheese is also attractive, but that doesn’t make it true. I think that there is a danger in believing in reincarnation because it tends to shift responsibility for one’s actions into the future. But to each his own religious beliefs. If someone wants to believe in reincarnation, I respect their right to do so, even though I think it’s a potentially dangerous theory (I can say, for example, that even if I live an evil life, I can always change in the next life, which I believe is totally untrue). IMHO, this is the only life we have, and now is the time to perfect ourselves, not sometime in the future when our karma is more favorable.

But again, people can believe what they want. Including me. Just expressing my 2 cents worth.

First of all, Bill, my comment about potential “witnessing” in the ARG thread in the BBQ Pit forum was made very much “tongue in cheek.” The discussion of religious befs and scriptural interpretations were very much in the context of that thread, which illustrates (in my mind) how the current “witnessing” policy is the use of a sledge hammer to swat a house fly. We were all “witnssing” to one degree or another, and yet were not offending anyone but the unreasonably oversensitive. If ARG’s ramblings offend people, ban the twit. I think the restriction is unnecessary.

The issue of “second chances” to hear the gospel message or to “expiate” one’s sins in the next life is not uniquely Mormon. The Catholics have traditionally taught the concept of purgatory, and most eastern religions (i.e. Hinduism) teach some form of “reworking” one’s life via a second chance after death, by reincarnation or some other method.

The concept is not Biblical, however. The verses you sight are difficult to interpret, but do not refer to a “second chance.”

The verse you sight in I Peter 4:6 says “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” The preaching spoken of here, in the context of the entire passage and in the original Greek, is a past event. The word “now” is not present in the original Greek, but it is necessary to make it clear that the preaching was done NOT after these people had died, but while they were still alive. There is NO opportunity for people to be saved after death, see Hebrews 9:27. The “judgment according to men in regard to the body” is the first reason the gospel was preached to these people before they died. Some interpret this as the judgment to whih allpeople msst submit, either in this life (see John 5:24) or in the next (see I Peter 4:5). The gospel is preached to people IN THIS LIFE so that in Christ’s death they may receive judgment now (with Christ standing in thier place) and avoid the negative judgment that comes after death. Others interpret this verse to mean that these people are judged according to humand standards, i.e. the pagan world, which does not understand wh God’s people no longer follow its sinful way of life (see I Peter 4: vv 2-4) as the world misunderstood Christ himself (See Acts 222-24, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30-32; 7:51-53).

The second reason that the gospel is preached to these folks BEFORE THEY DIE is so they can “live accordng to God in regard to the Spirit.” One interpretation of this half of the verse is that all gospel preachin has as its goal that the hearers maylive as God lives, that is, eternally, and that this life is given by the Holy Spirit. The other interpretation is that preaching leads God’s people to eternal life,so that, even if this wicked world abuses them, God’s people will live eternal lives as the Holy Spirit imparts.

You selectively quote the passage from I Peter 3: 19 and 20a. Its full implication is (starting in verse 18)

“18 For Christ died for sins once
for all, the righteous for the
unrighteous, to bring you to God. He
was put to death in the body but made
alive by the Spirit,
19 through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison
20 who disobeyed long ago when God
waited patiently in the days of Noah
while the ark was being built.”

This is a difficult passage to understand, but I don’t think the “second chance” interpretation washes.

Scripture scholars have taken three different ways to look at this passage:

  1. Some hold that at the time Noah was building the ark, the preincarnate Christ (the “angel” of God who wrestled with Jacob and appeared in the fiery furnance with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) appeared on the earth and preached (either directly or through the person of Noah) to the wicked generation of that time;

  2. Others argue that between his death and ressurection, Christ went to the “prison” where fallen angels are incarcerated and there preached ot the angels who are said to have left their angelic state during Noah’time (cf. Gen 6:1-4, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6). These “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2 & 4 are interpreted by these scholars to be “angels” as hey are in Job 1:6,and Job 2:1. The message Jesus would have preached would have been a declaration of victory;

  3. Still other folks say that between death and resurrection, Christ went to the “place of the dead” and preached to the spirits of Noah and his wicked contemporaries. He may have preached a form of the gospel,or simply a declaration of victory for Christ and doom for the hearers.

The first view is the weakest, because the context of the chapter is Christ’s death and resurrection. The second view presupposes the possiblity of sexual relations between angels and women, and according to other passages of scripture which define angelic beings as spirits, such relations would not be possible. A problem with the third view is that the term “spirits” as used in the passage is only applied to humans in other portions of scripture when other qualifying terms are added. Otherwise, the term is restricted for supernatural beings like demons or angels.

I have always viewed this passage more in the light of the 2nd explanation, without the baggage of the “sons of god” from Genesis 4. It says in Ephesians 4:7-10, it describes how Christ freed from Hell those who had believed and died prior to his coming to earth during the 3 days beween his death and resurrectuion. I’ve always assumed that the I Peter passage occurred at that time too, involving angelic/demonic spirits at war with God at the time of Noah. I can’t say I fully understand it, but I can’t see using the passage as a means to create a doctrine of allowing for people to get a “second chance” at heaven after death, particularly in light of Heb. 9:27 and that passage’s explanation of life after death.

I appreciate your use of the Book of Mormon as support for your argument. I am quite familiar with Mormon scripture (though not as well as I used to be), and have a fairly good grasp of Mormon doctrine. I don’t want to be lumped with Monty’s bigoted “Mormon bashers,” but you and I have been down this road before. Because the book of Mormon sprang from Joseph Smith’s fertile imagination, I do not find it authoritative in any way. Without further support from the Old or New Testament, I cannot concede to your argument. While the scriptures are not entirely clear on the nature of the afterlife, I think the Bible is fairly clear that it is faith in Christ in this life, and this life alone, that redeems us.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Soxfan59 wrote:

Well, when you reject the scriptural evidence, there is no scriptural evidence.

Also, I would think that you would agree with the BOM passage I quoted, because it strongly supports the idea that this life is the time to prepare to meet God, and that we shouldn’t procrastinate repentance.

It’s true that for those of us who have testimonies of Jesus and know the truth, this life is our only chance at gaining the celestial kingdom (the highest kingdom of heaven). But for those who haven’t heard the gospel and never even had the chance to do so, there has to be provision made for their salvation as well. Read D&C chapter 76 for a scriptural explanation of the different kingdoms of glory.

God is a great deal more merciful than you give him credit for.

Let me just clarify something:

IN NO WAY am I saying that anyone should wait until the next life to repent.

Now is the time to repent, not later. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I believed otherwise.

Soxfan: I’m curious about your description of the angel of God being the “preincarnate Christ.” Could you elucidate some more please?

Soxfan59 wrote:

Well, there are literally billions of concepts that are “not Biblical” yet are true, John. Surely you realize that the Bible is not the sole repository of all knowledge (or do you?)

2 + 2 = 4 is “not Biblical,” in the sense that it’s not in the Bible, but that doesn’t make it an invalid concept. “Jupiter is a planet” is not Biblical. “Tennis shoes often have shoelaces” is not Biblical. Yet these statements are all true. Just a pet peeve of mine, people calling aspects of Mormonism “unbiblical” and dismissing them as false because they’re not specifically in the Bible. Please don’t tell me your worldview includes only those things which are strictly Biblical, and nothing else.

Bill, my statement that you’re argument was “not biblical” was in response to you presenting a truth, and using passages from the New Testament to support your premise. My retort in saying it was “not biblical” is to say that I don’t think the bible supports your premise, and that even your use of those specific scriptures to support your premise is a misinterpretation, or a meaning that doesn’t fit the context.

And that’s all I mean by that. There’s plenty in Mormon doctrine that is indeed “biblical,” there is plenty that is not, in that it finds its sole support in the extra-biblical material that was produced via purported revelation to Joseph Smith and his successors. You make the odd statement that when I reject scriptural evidence, there is no scriptural evidence. But if you had cited the Koran or the Hindu scriptures, I would have the same response. Its great that the section of the Book of Mormon you cited in its essence reflects a biblical truth. But some of the things you and I have written here on the board also convey truths from the Bible. What I write here is not scripture.

My God is more merciful than I could imagine. I believe every human in history is given the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel; Romans 1 & 2 all but imply the same. I don’t pretend to fully understand how, because the Bible does not clearly explain. But I can’t except extrapolated doctrines that have no basis in the old or new testament.

Shifting gears, Monty asks about the concept of the “preincarnate Christ” appearing in Old Testament times. Many folks accept the concept that the “angel of the Lord” or the “Angel of God” mentioned in specific passages of scripture is really a manifestation of God Himself, and as such, the person of Christ appearing to man before His birth. Particularly, the episode where JAcob wrestles with an angel, the angel that appears to Abraham, the angel in the fiery furnace, the angel who appears to Joshua, and the one who appears to Gideon where actually manifestations of Christ. (One reason is some of these angelic apparitions received worship and sacrifice, which is only for God). Other manifestations of angels are definitely distinguished as messengers of God or agents of destruction and judgment or protection and deliverance, but who themselves are not God.

I’ve never seen any Mormon commentary on the same, but my guess would be that such an interpretation would comply with Mormon theology as well.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Soxfan59 wrote:

Well, then that’s your loss. On the one hand, you’re saying the Bible doesn’t explain everything, and on the other you’re saying you won’t accept any doctrine that’s not biblical. Interesting logic…but you’re entitled to your own opinion. Can God say another word, or is his mouth bound shut by the Bible? Who do you worship, the Bible or God? Does the Bible limit God’s ability to speak to human beings? You yourself say that the Bible doesn’t explain everything, yet you have closed your mind to the possibility of God saying more. This doesn’t make much sense to me.

My loss? The Holy Spirit gives me guidance everyday. The Lord speaks through all kinds of people and circumstances. The Bible too.

But the Lord is the same, yesterday, today and forever (according to scripture). If the Spirit is telling me something that contradicts what the Bible says, then I know that its not really the spirit speaking. This concept about God “changing his mind” about fundamental truth is unnacceptable.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

When exactly did God “chang[e] his mind about fundamental truth”?

Bill, I see you have your hackles up.

Before I respond to your last tersely worded post, let me remind you that you have always made it clear to me that you’ve never wanted to get into a discussion that involved anti-mormonism. I am not one to be a “Mormon basher” to use Monty’ phrase, but I can tell you if we continue down this path, I’ll be debating issues which I’ve been through before with devout Mormons, and I invariably piss `em off to the point where they don’t want to talk to me anymore, and that is not what I want to have happen. I don’t know if you participated in the discussion on the old AOL board when we were takling about “Mormon bashing” with Monty, Cyberian, Chevy et al., but I spent the better part of my undergraduate years doing a lot of research about the LDS church. For the most part, I used actual LDS sources or objective research material. My conclusion was that I could not accept the truth of Mormon theology.

This thread was designed to present a particular fundamental truth of LDS theology which I believe is objectively false, particularly when compared with what the Bible teaches about it. You have been rarely pushy with Mormon Doctrine, and actually, we’ve usually enjoyed a decent discussion about what Mormons believe vs evangelical Christians. As you have requested, I try to steer clear of controversy, or at least simply state what I believe or know to be true without engaging in rancorous debate.

It appears to me that this thread is heading towards rancorous debate. Before we continue, I see us as having a couple of choices:

  1. We could take this to e-mail, and discuss things more on our own terms;

  2. We could start a new thread about LDS theology vs more traditional, evangelical Christianity, but that might attract a lot of the kind of “Mormon bashing” that we all (particularly Mormons) find distasteful;

  3. We could drop the whole thing, and agree that we probably won’t convince the other of the truth of our own position. I’d be gald to debate this stuff, but we’re getting at the fundamental differences in what we believe, and I know what I have to say about this will NOT rest well with you.

So I don’t know what you want to do, but I will not respond further until you let me know.


“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Soxfan59 wrote:

Let’s go with #3. I’m feeling so physically ill right now, I doubt I could present a convincing argument anyway. But I am curious what could possibly “not rest well” with me. I’ve been exposed to anti-Mormon literature and web sites, and I’ve found most of that stuff to be repetitive, rehashing the same invalid arguments over and over, and forever renewing old, disproven arguments as if they were brand new and valid. I don’t claim to be a scholar of Mormon history, but I doubt anything you could say would upset me. So if you want to take it to email, let me know on this board and I’ll send you my email address (I don’t publish it to this board, as I don’t want spam).

On second thought, John, don’t bother. We wouldn’t convince one another by debate anyway. In the interests of preserving your soul from the destroying effects of preaching against God’s truth, I won’t engage you in that kind of debate. Let’s just agree to disagree.

Thanks, Bill.

I’m not concerned about the ravages of anything which might be considered heresy or against “God’s truth.” Of course, what I might present would probably be those “rehashed” arguments.

Hope you feel better.

“Its fiction, but all the facts are true!”

Thanks, John. I hope so too. :slight_smile: