Ogden Kraut


. . . it is appointed unto men once to die, . . .

(Heb. 9:27)

* * * * *

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven;

Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain;

Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;

Death cannot conquer the hero again.

(Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 16th ed., 1877, p. 325)

Table of Contents



3332 Ft. Union Blvd.

Salt Lake City, Utah 84121


Typography by

Anne Wilde


February 1994





Preface             .               .               .               .               .               .               .               .               .                 5

1   Introduction: A Rough Stone .               .               .               .                 7

2   Definitions  .               .               .               .               .               .               .               12

3   Reasons for Believing              .               .               .               .               .               19

4   A Direction or a Deception?    .               .               .               .               24

5   A History of Reincarnation     .               .               .               .               26

6   Learning by Experience           .               .               .               .               .               55

7   The Pre-Mortal World              .               .               .               .               .               62

8   Predestination and Foreordination        .               .               .               68

9   Spirits and Spiritual Manifestations      .               .               73

10  The Blessing of Mortality                       .               .               .               83

11  Angelic Beings          .               .               .               .               .               .               .               87

12  A Doctrine of the Devil           .               .               .               .               .               97

13  Paradise–A World of Spirits  .               .               .               .               105

14  The Sons of Perdition              .               .               .               .               .               113

15  Resurrection of the Body       .               .               .               .               .               122

16  The Second Death   .               .               .               .               .               .               136

17  Final Judgment         .               .               .               .               .               .               .               144

18  Points to Ponder       .               .               .               .               .               .               148

19  Mormonism vs Reincarnationism        .               .               .               .               164

20  The Case of Father Adam     .               .               .               .               .               179

21  Conclusion: A Polished Jewel                .               .               .               .               192



[5]                                PREFACE

Hundreds, if not thousands, of books have been written about the great mysteries of life and death. A large portion of them have promoted or defended the theory that we will continually be born into this world and/or others. Skeptics, mystics, and poets have proclaimed different but interesting views concerning a “ring of return”-describing a rebirth into mortality.

Fifty years ago most Americans scoffed at the idea of being reborn into mortality-that it was simply an occult superstition. Today it is probably the fastest growing religious thought among the nation’s gurus, psychics, and preachers. Our “New Age” movement is the most effective missionary vehicle nurturing its success.

As a believer in the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the author has been amazed at the number of acquaintances who believe that they have lived on this earth sometime before and that their spirit will come back again in another mortal body sometime in the future. Among them are Buddhists, Theosophists, Oaspies, Hindus, Reincarnationists, Catholics, Protestants, and even a few Mormons. In response to some of their published and unpublished views on the subject of reincarnation, in whatever form or variation, this book is [6] written. In fact, enough material has been collected on this subject by the author to publish additional volumes, but this one should suffice.

Admittedly, some references can have two or more interpretations (like many scriptures), but hopefully after reading and considering the definitions, histories, doctrines, and philosophies included herein, the reader will gain a more complete understanding and see a more comprehensive picture upon which to base his personal beliefs.

The individual conclusions arrived at may not matter much with regard to one’s salvation, but may seriously affect personal exaltation.



[7]                               Chapter 1


                                A Rough Stone

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev. 21:4)

In February of 1969, a Gallup Poll Index, which was based at Princeton University, inquired into the religious beliefs and practices of people in twelve Western nations. One of those questions was, “Do you believe in reincarnation?” The result was the subject of a book by George Gallup entitled Adventures in Immortality. On page 137 he lists the percentages in some of those nations that believe they will be born again into mortality, i.e.:


Austria                   20%                                                                           Canada                              26%

France                    23%                                                                           England              18%

Germany                               25%                                                                           Greece                 22%

Norway                  14%                                                                           Sweden                               12%

Holland                 10%                                                                           U.S.A.                  20%

According to a recent newspaper item, the U.S.A. percentage was even a little higher:


[article says 23% of Americans believe in reincarnation]

(USA Today, Fri., Nov. 12, 1993)

Thus nearly one-fourth of the people in the Western nations believe in some kind of reincarnation. It is interesting to note that these are basically Christian nations. The London Daily Telegraph reported that in Great Britain the belief had risen from 18% in 1969 to 28% in 1979. In the Asiatic nations, it is the belief of almost all those people. According to Geddes Mac Gregor, “Of all ideas in the history of religion, none is more universal in its appeal than is that of reincarnation.” (Reincarnation in Christianity, p. 1)

It has been estimated that almost half of the population of the world believe in some form of rebirth into another mortal life. For this reason it cannot be simply shrugged off as another superstition or unpopular religious concept.

To really understand this belief, it requires considerable study into the history, philosophy and sacred writings of the present and the past-leading one through such areas as “Divine Ka”, “Karma”, “Cosmic Law”, “Intuitive Faculty”, “Astral Nature”, “Cosmic Consciousness”, and many others. It will take a person into the darkest jungles of Africa, through the temples of the ancients, and among the customs of pagans, Christians and even atheists.


[9]             Certainly faith, sincerity, or desire do not prove that a religious belief is correct. Many pious worshippers incur unnecessary suffering and sorrow because of their incorrect devotions. “Sad as it may be, almost the entire history of mankind is an account of false worship, false gods, and all the ills that attend such a course.” (New Witness for the Articles of Faith, McConkie, p. 4)

The natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and mathematics, help us understand and distinguish the difference between theory and the absolute nature of law. More importantly, we should study and test the doctrines and teachings of various religions to learn to separate the genuine from the imitation.

Death is a doorway through which mankind dreads to pass because of the possible pain involved, because our knowledge of life after death is so limited, and because we fear the unknown. Just before his death, the Pulitzer Prize winner, William Saroyan, author of The Human Comedy, facetiously said, “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.” (Coming Back, The Science of Reincarnation, pub. by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1982 ed., p. ix)

There exist mixed feelings about (1) the fear of dying, (2) the joy of leaving this cruel and wicked world, and (3) the distress of thinking we will have to come back and do it all over again. Apparently the special attraction for being born again is so that “disadvantaged humans may see reincarnation as a chance to be reborn to a higher or more respectable caste or social position.” (Spencer Palmer, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1989, p. 52)


[10]           Some people adopt the theory of reincarnation into the realm of their religious beliefs with the comment that, “One guess is as good as another.” This is certainly a weak basis for a religion that should entail the principles of revelation, inspiration, and an understanding of scripture.

For the poor peasant in the third world countries, the belief in reincarnation explains the dismal life he must bear now and gives him spiritual hope of a better life in the future. For him, a belief in reincarnation is at least better than anything else available to him. This also applies to many Catholics and Protestants who believe in a God that is invisible, formless and scattered throughout the universe. If their religion teaches them that when they die, they will be just like Him, that is a confusing and depressing thought–and once again, a belief in reincarnation may be a slight improvement.

But for Saints in these latter days. who through modern revelation, have further light and knowledge and a clearer understanding of the plan of salvation, this so-called attraction to reincarnation should not be so necessary or appealing.

The following warning should be carefully considered before proceeding further on this subject:

But most reincarnation literature is poorly informed, highly speculative, superficial, and inconclusive. Some books purport to document cases of people who, under hypnosis, have been regressed to previous lifetimes. They describe in detail houses they lived in, streets they walked on, parks they frequented as children, and the names of their former parents, friends, and relatives. All this makes for interesting reading, and while such books have certainly stimulated the ever-widening public interest and belief in reincarnation, careful investigations have revealed that many of these so-called past-life regression cases are rife with speculations, inaccuracies, and even fraud. (Coming Back . . ., op. cit., p. x)


[11]           While reincarnation is a subject of fascinating study, before accepting it as a tenet of one’s religion, an extensive search should be conducted far beyond that of just an intellectual exercise. As the reader searches for the whole truth through the pages of this book, maybe he will feel that his faith and knowledge in this area will advance from that of a rough stone to a polished jewel.



[12]                              Chapter 2


Fifty years ago the public at large regarded such beliefs <as reincarnation> as fringe lunacy or oriental occult superstition. (Reincarnation-a Christian Appraisal, M. Albrecht, 1978, p. 11)

The word reincarnation is a relatively new term for an ancient religious theory. To understand its meaning, it is necessary to refer to more recent texts because it is not found in earlier dictionaries. However, the word incarnate appears, meaning “to clothe with flesh; to embody in flesh.” The word incarnation means “the act of clothing with flesh; the act of assuming flesh, or of taking a human body. . . .” (American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, 1st ed.)

Apparently the word reincarnation first emerged in a book called Renewal of Youth by Myers in 1882, p. 213. The meaning, of course, later appeared in dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary of 1933, 8:387, saying it was “a fresh embodiment of a person. Renewed incarnation. Incarnate again. In the old same footsteps of himself long dead.” Another dictionary states that it means “to be reborn in another body; to incarnate again.” (Grolier International Dictionary, 1968, 2:1097)


[13]           Some definitions referred to reincarnation as applying to more than just human bodies but incorporated the old Hindu and Buddhist theory that a man’s spirit can be reborn into animals, birds and even insects:

Reincarnation: the belief that the soul after death returns to human life after a period of existence elsewhere, perhaps in animal or plant form or in some separate place, is found in many parts of the world. (Enc. Britannica, 1985 ed., 19:80)

Reincarnation: the doctrine of the passing of the soul at death into another body or bodies, either animal or human. It is also called metampsychosis and transmigration of the soul. (Enc. Americana 23:348, 1990)

But more commonly the meaning of reincarnation is restricted to returning in the same species:


Reincarnation: Theory that after death an individual is reborn in another body of the same species. This tenet was advocated by Greek philosophers. In India and W. Africa, it constitutes an integral part of the doctrine of survival of merit and demerit after death. (The New Modern Encyclopedia, ed., A. H. McDannald, N.Y., 1944, 1:858)

Reincarnation: A rebirth of the soul in successive bodies; specifically, in Vedic religions, the becoming of an avatar* again; one of the series in the transmigration of souls. (New International Dictionary, 1984, 1:639) (*Avatar:  “a god’s coming to earth in bodily form.”)

Reincarnate: To be reborn in another body; to incarnate again. (Amer. Heritage Dic. . ., 1969, p. 1097

Reincarnation: Rebirth in new bodies or forms of life; a rebirth of a soul in a new human body. (Webster’s New Enc. Dic., 1993, p. 857)


[14]           The word reincarnation has probably become the most popularly accepted term for such similar expressions as-


re-births                                                                                  multiple births

regeneration                                                                           palingenesis

transmigration                                                                       re-probations

multiple probations                                                              metempsychosis

multiple lives                                                                         evolutionary mortality

ring of return                                                                          eternal lives

turn of the wheel                                                   life cycles

turn of the crank                                                   life rotations

eternal circle                                                                          wheel of life

multiple mortal mortalities                                 etc., etc., etc.

All of these can refer to being born again into mortality in another physical body.

These definitions are not to be confused with the actual meaning of reprobation, which means “rejection or condemnation by God’s purpose” (New Intern’l Dic. 2:1069); or the word reprobate signifying “a depraved person, a profligate; hopelessly sinful, vicious, corrupt; condemnation, censure” (Webster’s Unified Dic.); or “doomed to damnation” (Webster’s New Enc. Dic., 1993, p. 865).

In the 1828 An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, several interesting definitions were given of the words reprobate and reprobation, which, of course, would be those understood and used by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young:


(adj.) Not enduring proof or trial; not of standard purity or                        fineness; abandoned in sin; lost to virtue or grace; abandoned to                       error or in apostasy.

[15]                         (n) a person abandoned to sin; one lost to virtue and religion..

(v) to disapprove with detestation or marks of extreme dislike; to                            disallow; to reject; to abandon to wickedness and eternal                      destruction; to abandon to his sentence, without hope of pardon.


(n) The act of disallowing with detestation, or of expressing                      extreme dislike; the act of abandoning or state of being abandoned                                 to eternal destruction; a condemnatory sentence; rejection. (Vol. 2:56-57)

In none of these definitions does reprobation refer to returning to this mortal probation.

It is also important to consider the meaning of the word probation in this study:

A proceeding designed to test character, qualifications, etc., as a candidate for holy orders. The period throughout which a trial or examination extends. The act of proving. (New Intern’l Dic., 2:1004)

A testing, as of one’s character, ability, etc. (Webster’s New Enc. Dic., 1979, p. 476)

Critical examination and evaluation or subjection to such examination and evaluation; subjection of an individual to a period of testing and trial to ascertain fitness. (Webster’s New Enc. Dic., 1993, p. 803)

The spirits of mankind were all in a probationary state while they were in their pre-mortal existence. Mortals are also in a probationary status while in this temporal world, and again during the millennium. And it is said that the spirit world will be a “prison”-type condition where all will be [16] evaluated on their performance and their repentance. Probation or evaluation periods may extend throughout the eternities as man progresses in knowledge and power. Indeed the concept of multiple probations is a valid one when looked at in this perspective.

* * *

Though the term is relatively new, the concept of reincarnation, or being born many times, is an old one. In India it is as common as religion itself-it is nearly their only religion. Will Durant said, “This belief is so universal in India that almost every Hindu accepts it as an axiom or assumption, and hardly bothers to prove it.” (Our Oriental Heritage, p. 435)

The Buddhist also believes in these multiple rebirths, but that there will come a time when he will not be forced into them after reaching Nirvana. Durant describes this state:


The Buddhist Scriptures use it <Nirvana> as signifying: (1) a state of happiness attainable in this life through the complete elimination of selfish desires; (2) the liberation of the individual from rebirth; (3) the annihilation of the individual consciousness; (4) the union of the individual with God; (5) a heaven of happiness after death. In the teaching of Buddha it seemed to mean the extinction of all individual desire, and the reward of such selflessness-escape from rebirth. (Our Oriental Heritage, p. 435)

As popular as this belief may be among many, it still remains repulsive to most people. As Gandhi once stated, “I do not want to be reborn,” simply because this life has little to offer a person if he seeks for peace and happiness.

Ironically, the highest aspiration of those believing in reincarnation is the hope that they can ultimately escape from [17] being reincarnated. It is even more repulsive to those who believe they may come back as animals, birds or bugs! I. S. Cooper, a believer in reincarnation, certainly did not believe in the animal concept, as he stated:

To think of a human being, endowed with keen sensibilities, moral perception, and intellectual power, as being reborn after death in the body of an unmoral and unintelligent animal, is certainly the abyss of illogic and could serve no moral or evolutionary process whatsoever in the universe. (Reincarnation-A Hope of the World, I. S. Cooper, p. 21)

Along this line, Apostle John A. Widtsoe also thought it to be unbelievable:

Under this doctrine our next-door neighbor may be the reincarnation of a man or a woman who lived centuries ago; our bootblack may be the reincarnation of one of the great philosophers of the past; our school teacher may have been an untutored savage a thousand years ago; our present dog, Sanko, may be nothing else than our dog, Fido, long since dead, in a more recent incarnation. And what is worse, the animating essence, the “soul,” of Sanko, may be the former “soul” of a Newton, or a Galileo, or a Plato! Or, the wife who cooks our meals for us, may have been in an earlier reincarnation, the Queen of Sheba. Or, still more to our confusion, a man’s wife might have been his husband when he was a woman in an earlier reincarnation. (Evidences and Reconciliations, Widtsoe, 1960 ed., arr. by Homer Durham, p. 365)

Trying to discover the original concept and definition of the word meaning “to be reborn” is a fruitless task. There is no original manuscript from whence it comes. There are many different origins and versions among the ancient pagans, and even more among modern Western converts. The divisions and variations [18] of belief among reincarnationists are as diversified as the thousand different religions that incorporate such a belief. Even though there are hundreds of books written on this subject, not one exists upon which all believers can agree.

There is still a continuous flow of new versions and revisions of old versions. A marriage of the ancient with the modern is giving rebirth to hybrid ideologies. Such information often comes by “thumbnail revelation,” but it is not what the prophets have taught.

Because of all this confusion, only the basic definition of “being born again as mortals into mortality” will be the consideration of this book.



[19]                              Chapter 3

                            REASONS FOR BELIEVING

Reincarnation moves in a circle; the gospel in an ascending spiral. (Evid. & Recon., Widtsoe, 1960 ed., p. 369)

There are a multitude of reasons why people have claimed a belief in reincarnation, some of the major ones being:


  1. It explains the inequality in people’s lives relating to time, location, and conditions of their birth.
  2. Some people die too young to have enough temporal experience.
  3. It gives everyone a chance to live longer on earth.
  4. It gives everyone a chance to correct serious mistakes, and to live a better life “next time”.
  5. Nearly everyone eventually can reach heaven, Nirvana, or exaltation.

Besides these reasons for wanting to be born again, there are many spiritual, mystical or unexplained powers that have caused people to believe that they have lived before and will live again. It is interesting to consider some of these:

Clairvoyance.  This is the ability to see things which are not visible to the normal human eye; it is a second sight or intuitive perception.


[20]           Personation.  A person often gets thoughts, impressions or some idea that he has the same ideals, characteristics or personality traits as someone in the past, and therefore he must be the same person.

  Idiosyncratic Skill.  In a seance or preparatory state, a person will demonstrate an unusual skill, knowledge, or technical ability.


Historicity Recall. A person is influenced by something that makes him believe he was somewhere before in history.

Association Ties.  This can occur when an individual listens to some magnetic or influential speaker tell of his previous life, and he himself becomes desirous of having the same experience.

Manifestations.  When people delve into religious or spiritual realms, they often become influenced by visions, dreams, and manifestations of angels, spirits or departed relatives.

Congenital Deformities.  Deformities, birthmarks or physical defects may be similar to another person’s who has lived previously, and so the conclusion is that he is the same person reincarnated.

Telepathic Impressions.  These are impressions that something is happening to another person who is a great distance away.

Xenoglossy.  This is the ability of a person to speak a language which he has never learned before.


[21]           Hypnotic Suggestion.  This is a popular condition which is used on stage for entertainment and is even used in some medical treatments. Hypnotic regression is sometimes practiced in trying to help someone deal with past problems.

Cryptomnesia.  According to this theory, a person would somehow have known another person and explained incidents, places and persons relating to him. It can include the ability to write or know another language.

Extrasensory Perception.  This is when a person is aware of something that is happening or will happen.

Genetic Memory.  This occurs when alleged memories of previous lives through the subject’s ancestors are recalled and one “remembers” what happened to his forefathers.

  Telepathic Links.  Some incidents of people recognizing other persons form a link to previous lives.

De-Ja Vu.  People have a sense of being in the same place or doing the same thing as before, while in the very same circumstances.

  Spirit Possession and Communication.  A common source of impressions, revelations, and power used in taking over a person’s mind or body. Multiple personalities are sometimes attributed to this.

Fraud and Vivid Imagination.  This is the most common source of most seances and supernatural experiences, and accounts for many demonstrations of reincarnation.

* * *


[22]           Sometimes people have unexplainable and mysterious experiences which lead them to conclude that they have lived before and will probably live again. Herbert W. Armstrong collected some of these unusual incidents:


There are the publicized cases such as “Bridey Murphy,” who had never been to Ireland and yet who spoke (with an Irish accent) of a place in Cork called the Meadows, where she had reputedly been born in the 18th century, and lived until her death in 1864. Or Dolores Jay, a Virginia housewife who claimed to have been murdered in Germany 100 years ago, and who, under hypnosis, could speak German, though Dolores Jay had never been exposed to anyone who spoke the language.

Many other accounts have been compiled where previous existences have been “recalled,” usually under hypnosis. For example, one man suffering constant migraine headaches, supposedly revealed under hypnosis that as an officer in the Air Force during World War II he had gotten drunk and walked into a whirling airplane propeller that cut off his head. A check of official military records revealed the death in 1942 of just such an officer with exact serial number given under hypnosis. (The Spirit World, pub. by The Worldwide Church of God, p. 22)

The “logical” conclusion for these people is that they must have lived before. But let’s consider some other possible explanations for these experiences as well as the five reasons listed at the beginning of this chapter:


  1. The Pre-Existence had a great deal to do with the conditions and length of one’s life in mortality.
  2. The Spirit World after mortality provides a further opportunity to both repent and progress.
  3. One mortal life is all that is necessary to receive the highest exaltation.

[23] 4. Other spirits can enter our mortal bodies and can reveal all kinds of information pertaining to the past, present, and future.

  1. Spirits in the Pre-Existence, in one way or another, could be allowed to become very familiar with individuals who lived on earth before they themselves had their turn on earth. The memory of these lives could be recalled when the veil becomes thin enough.

These and other explanations will be taken up in subsequent chapters.



[24]                              Chapter 4

                         A DIRECTION OR A DECEPTION?

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col. 2:8)

Sermons, writings and philosophies may contain a certain amount of truth, but if the whole is based on a false premise, any result therefrom is a false conclusion. Many theories and concepts have beautiful sentiments, elegant demonstrations, and appealing rewards, and still tend to lead a person into misunderstandings and error.

The oriental version of reincarnation has many loopholes and is unpalatable to Westerners. So some individuals in Christian nations have revised and polished the concept in order to come up with modern versions that are more appealing and are making many new converts.

Frequently erroneous interpretations and assumptions are drawn from some mystical experience or manifestation. Even new religions have been created in this manner-too often with the unfounded claim that God was the source. But God does not create division-His house is a house of order, harmony and truth.


[25]           The philosophy of reincarnation is constantly being molded and re-interpreted by Christians and even Latter-day Saints. Its definition is undergoing constant change, which in itself is reason to question its validity. As Mark Albrecht wrote:

Finally, it must be realized that spiritual deception is the means to an end, and that end is spiritual bondage. Reincarnation is a philosophic/religious system which is the direct antithesis of Biblical revelation. Because the concept of rebirth is such a linchpin in gnostic-occult and Eastern philosophy, it has been highly developed, covered over with layers of sophistry, and reinforced by centuries of elaborate philosophy in order to render it palatable to its followers. However, underneath the sugar coating is the bitter pill of error; recall phenomena are only part of the whole system of spiritual bondage and deception into which entire races and cultures have fallen. (Reincarnation-A Christian Appraisal, Albrecht, p. 117)

To draw a proper conclusion as to the accuracy of such a belief, it is necessary to make a thorough study of all the issues involved. If the theory of reincarnation is wrong, then the results and the fruits of it will be wrong. If it is not a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then subscribing to such a fallacy can be dangerous-as one delusion breeds more delusions. Error can exist in many forms-truth but one.



[26]                              Chapter 5

                          A HISTORY OF REINCARNATION

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. (Rev. 12:9)

Since reincarnation is one of the most accepted religious concepts in the world, it may be said that it is almost the religion of the whole world. And if the devil is deceiving the whole world, reincarnation must be a central part of his gospel, which is alive and well in every nation.

One of the most difficult challenges to those believing in reincarnation is determining which version is correct. Since there is no primary source or original reference book-such as the Bible or any other ancient record-the philosophy has just filtered down through many different peoples and nations.

Interesting rituals are performed, ceremonies observed, and special days are allowed in the celebration of this rebirth. Some ancient Egyptians are said to have practiced embalming to prevent or delay rebirth into mortality again. The “spirit” which leaves the body at death has been represented in art by the Greeks as a butterfly, in Egypt as a hawk, a bird in Europe, as a pigeon by the Lombards, and a wasp by the tribes of Assam.


[27]           Some religions believe it is possible for the spirit of one individual to enter into the body of another. The “Poso-Alfures of Celebes” believe in three souls: the vital principle, the intellectual, and the divine element. Those who live wickedly, it has been said, will come back as insects or dung beetles. The Akikuyu women of East Africa, who wish to have children, will worship at the ficus tree which is supposed to be inhabited with the souls of the dead.

There are stories of trees and flowers that grow up from graves and are animated by spirits of the dead buried there. These spirits can even take up residence in fields of grain.

Since there is no original “reference book” on reincarnation, it is difficult to gather information on its history. A multitude of sources has been used in collecting material for this chapter on the histories and traditions of nations and cultures embracing this belief, i.e., Egypt, India, Tibet, Greece, Rome, Islams, Judaism, Christianity, and Theosophy. Each of these histories is discussed very briefly, with the suggestion that the reader “consider the source” of each and compare it with the restoration of Gospel principles to Joseph Smith.



Very little information comes from Egypt concerning reincarnated beings, but one example is from The Book of the Dead:

Nebseni, the lord of reverence, saith: “I am Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, (and I have) the power to be born a second time. I am the divine hidden Soul who created the gods; and who giveth sepulchral meals unto the denizens of Tuat (the underworld), Amentot, and heaven.”

Homage to thee, O Governor of those who are in Amenti, who makest mortals to be born again, who renewest thy youth.. (quoted in Reincarnation, Eva Martin, p. 29)


[28]           The Egyptians had very deep religious expressions, and their statues, paintings, funeral structures, and embalmed bodies indicated a solemn belief in a hereafter.



The predominant believers in reincarnation are the Hindus of India. It is practically the national religion with few exceptions, yet it was not always so:

The doctrine of the transmigration of souls is in India the presumption which underlies not only Buddhism and Jainism, but also the philosophical systems of the Brahmans and the whole of Hinduism. In the ancient Vedic period it had as yet no existence. At that time the Indian peoples were still filled with a keen delight in life, and the righteous man looked forward to eternal continuance of existence after death. They believed that good men ascended to heaven to the companionship of the gods and there led a painless existence, free from all earthly imperfections-a happy life, which was usually depicted as an enjoyment of sensual pleasures, but was yet occasionally conceived in a higher spiritual sense. This naive representation of the soul’s fate after death experienced a real change when, suddenly and without any transitional stages that we can perceive, the Indian people were seized by the oppressive belief in transmigration, which holds it captive to the present day. (Enc. of Religion and Ethics 12:434)


At the basis of the Indian conception of transmigration lies the immovable conviction that there is no unmerited happiness and no unmerited misery-that each person shapes his own destiny.

Hinduism has no formal organization, and its teachings are handed down from father to son, becoming the principle factors in his life. His religion is his whole life, permeating through everything he does and thinks. Christians would do [29] well to take note of what devotion really means by studying the life and thought of the Hindu. Sir Monier Williams explained:

Religion is ever present to a Hindu@s mind. It colours all his ideas. It runs through every fibre of his being. It is the very Alpha and Omega of his whole earthly career. He is born religious, and dies religious. He is religious in his eating and drinking, in his sleeping and walking, in his dressing and undressing, in his rising up and sitting down, in his work and amusement. Nay, religion attends him in ante-natal ceremonies long before his birth, and follows him in endless offering for the good of his soul long after death. (Religious Life and Thought in India, Williams, p. 6)

The ancient book Bhagavad-gita is the basic philosophy of India for the believers of reincarnation. The historian Will Durant said it is the-

. . . New Testament of India, revered next to the Vedas themselves, and used in the law-courts, like our Bible or the Koran, for the administration of oaths. Wilhelm von Humboldt pronounced it “the most beautiful, perhaps the only true, philosophical song existing in any known tongue; . . . perhaps the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show.” (Our Oriental Heritage, p. 565)

In the tradition of those believing in reincarnation, the author of the Bhagavad-gita didn’t even leave his name attached to it, apparently because he desired no temporal honors or praise. Any attachment to such things of this world would be a sin, or deterrent to reaching his Nirvana. We don’t even know when it was written-probably a few centuries B.C. But this is typical of the thought and feeling of the reincarnationist of India.


[30]           The Hindu’s conception of God is not very different from that of the apostate Christian religion, whose confusing view of the Creator is described as follows:

The Vedas, or the ancient sacred books of the Hindoos, distinctly set forth the doctrine of the infinite and eternal supreme being, (thus,) according to the Vedas, there is “one unknown, true being, all present, all powerful, the Creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe.” This supreme being “is not comprehensible by vision, or by any other organs of sense; nor can he be conceived by means of devotion or [31] virtuous practices.” He is not space, nor air, nor light, nor atoms, nor soul, nor nature: he is above all these, and the cause of them all. He “has no feet, but extends everywhere; has no hands, but holds everything; has no eyes, yet sees all that is; has no ears, yet hears everything that passes. His existence had no cause, he is the smallest of the small and the greatest of the great;” such is the doctrine of the Vedas in its purest and most abstract form; but the prevailing theology which runs through them is, what is called Pantheism, or that system which speaks of God as the soul of the universe, or as the universe itself, accordingly, the whole tone and language of the highest Hindoo philosophy is Pantheistic.

* * * “All that exists is God; whatever we smell, or taste, or see, or hear, or feel, is the Supreme Being.” . . . Seeing, say the Hindoos, that God pervades and animates the whole universe, everything living or dead, may be considered a portion of the divine substance: in this way, whatever the eye looks on, or the mind can conceive, whether it be the sun in the heavens or the great river Ganges, or the crocodile on its banks, or the cow, or the fire kindled to cook food, or the Vedas, or a Brahmin, or a tree, or a serpent, all may be legitimately worshipped as a fragment, so to speak, of the Divine Spirit. Thus there may be many millions of gods to which Hindoos think themselves entitled to pay divine honors. The number of Hindoo gods is calculated at 330,000,000-three times the number of their worshippers. (Taken from “Chambers’ Information for the People,” reported in Mill. Star 1850, 12:109)



In Tibet the reincarnated Dalai Lama, or ruler of their country, is supposed to be immediately born somewhere as soon as he dies. At his death everyone seeks for a newborn baby to find the rebirth of their old great Lama who had died so that he can rule again. The following list shows the time intervals between his deaths and rebirths:



Birth  Death                           Birth  Death

1391         1475                       1758   1805

1475         1543                       1805   1816

1543         1589                       1819   1837

1589         1617                       1837   1855

1617         1682                       1856   1874

1683   1706           1876   1933

1708         1758

(Taken from Lamanism, L. A. Waddell, p. 233)

In one instance it is claimed that in 1475 the Lama Ganden Truppa died but passed into the body of a young boy.


Ancient Greece

Socrates, Pythagoras, and Plato were among the ancient Greeks who, it is said, believed in reincarnation. The great philosopher Socrates (399 B.C.) referred to it as “that ancient doctrine.” Pythagoras, another Greek philosopher and mathematician, claimed he could remember his past lives and said that he had been a Trojan warrior, a prophet burned to death, a peasant, the wife of a shopkeeper, and a Phoenician prostitute. Plato presented detailed accounts of reincarnation in his major works. He stated that gluttons and drunkards would probably become asses in future lives, violent people would be born again as wolves or hawks, and people who follow leaders blindly would come back again as ants or bees. Since it was such a popular belief at the time, Plato used reincarnation concepts in some of his stories and writings.

The earliest Greek thinker with whom metempsychosis is connected is Pherecydes; but Pythagoras, who is said to have been his pupil, is its first famous philosophic exponent. Pythagoras probably made his reputation by bringing Orphic doctrine from North-eastern Hellas to Magna Graecia.


[33]           The importance of metempsychosis is due to Plato. In the eschatological myth which closes the Republic, he tells the story how Er, the son of Armenius, miraculously returned to life on the twelfth day after death and recounted the secrets of the other world. There are theories to the same effect in other dialogues, the Phaedrus, Meno, Phaedo, Timaeus and Laws. In Plato’s view the number of souls was fixed; birth therefore is never the creation of a soul, but only a transmigration from one body to another. Plato’s acceptance of the doctrine is characteristic of his sympathy with popular beliefs and desire to incorporate them in a purified form into his system. Aristotle, a far less emotional and sympathetic mind, has a doctrine of immortality totally inconsistent with it. In later Greek literature the doctrine appears from time to time; it is mentioned in a fragment of Menander (the Inspired Woman) and satirized by Lucian. (Enc. Britannica, 1985 ed., 15:33)

It is difficult to determine if the Greeks borrowed this belief from some of the Egyptians or from India. The Orphic doctrine claimed that the soul and body are separated at death to be taken on “the wheel of birth” to again be born somewhere else. Orpheus declared that the purer the life, the higher would be the next appearance on earth. These teachings appeared about the 6th century B.C.


The Early Romans

The Roman view of reincarnation was probably inherited from the Greeks, just as many other things were, since those two ancient civilizations had many things in common. When Jesus was brought up before Herod, the Roman ruler, he encountered this doctrine:

Whatever fear Herod had once felt regarding Jesus, whom he had superstitiously thought to be the reincarnation of his murdered victim, John the Baptist, was replaced by [34] amused interest when he saw the far-famed Prophet of Galilee in bonds before him, attended by a Roman guard, and accompanied by ecclesiastical officials. Herod began to question the Prisoner; but Jesus remained silent. The chief priests and scribes vehemently voiced their accusations; but not a word was uttered by the Lord. Herod is the only character in history to whom Jesus is known to have applied a personal epithet of contempt. “Go ye and tell that fox, . . .” He once said to certain Pharisees who had come to Him with the story that Herod intended to kill Him. As far as we know, Herod is further distinguished as the only being who saw Christ face to face and spoke to Him, yet never heard His voice. For penitent sinners, weeping women, prattling children, for the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the rabbis, for the perjured high priest and his obsequious and insolent underling, and for Pilate the pagan, Christ had words-of comfort or instruction, of warning or rebuke, of protest or denunciation-yet for Herod the fox He had but disdainful and kingly silence. Thoroughly piqued, Herod turned from insulting questions to acts of malignant derision. He and his men-at-arms made sport of the suffering Christ, “set him at naught and mocked him;” then in travesty they “arrayed him in a gorgeous robe and sent him again to Pilate.” Herod had found nothing in Jesus to warrant condemnation. (Jesus, the Christ, Talmage, p. 636)

The Roman view of reincarnation is evident in Herod’s belief that Jesus could have been John the Baptist, whom he had ordered to be killed. The New Testament records:

Now Herod . . . was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John had risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared: and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. (Luke 9:7, 8)

Many Roman stories, songs, and poems depict their belief in being reborn on earth.


[35]  Islams

Only a few writings of the Islamic religion indicate that reincarnation had any support among these people. The reincarnationists point to the Koran, the Bible of the Islams, where it is written:

And you were dead, and He brought you back to life. And He shall cause you to die, and in the end shall gather you unto Himself. (Sura 2:28)

They shall say: Our Lord! twice didst Thou make us subject to death, and twice hast Thou given us life, so we do confess our faults: is there then a way to get out?

How is it that ye believe not in God? Since ye were dead, and He gave you life, He will hereafter cause you to die, and will again restore you to life; then shall ye return unto Him. (The Koran)

The body to the tomb and the spirit to the womb….

The soul of the lower beast goeth to the body of the higher, and the soul of the higher beast to the body of the savage, and the soul of the savage to the man . . . .

I tell you, of a truth, that the spirits which now have affinity shall be kindred together, although they all meet in new persons and names. (The New Koran)

The main segment of the Islam religion that believes in reincarnation is called the Sufis:

Islam, which arose some six centuries after Christ, is derived largely from Biblical thought and history. As a result the orthodox mainstream of Islam has disavowed reincarnation, adhering to the Judeo-Christian concept of resurrection. However, the mystical wing of Islam, the Sufis, who incorporate considerable oriental teaching and practice into their Muslim faith, have been believers in reincarnation since their inception. (Reincarnation, Mark Albrecht, p. 30)


[36]           A Sufi poet, D-Din Rumi, wrote:


I died as a mineral and became a plant,

I died as a plant and rose to animal,

I died as animal and I was man.

Why should I fear?

When was I less by dying?

(quoted in Poet and Mystic, R.A. Nicholson, p. 103)



There is no original concept or writing on the topics of transmigration or metempsychosis in early Jewish records.

Attempts have been made with little success to find metempsychosis in early Jewish literature. But there are traces of it in Philo, and it is definitely adopted in the Kabbala. (Enc. Brit. 15:33)

This doctrine was foreign to Judaism until about the eighth century, when, under the influence of the Mohammedan mystics, it was adopted by the Karaites and other Jewish dissenters. It is first mentioned in Jewish literature by Saadia, who protested against this belief, which at his time was shared by the Yudghanites, or whomsoever he contemptuously designated as “so-called Jews.” * * *

Although raised by the Cabala to the rank of a dogma, the doctrine of metempsychosis still found great opposition among the leaders of Judaism in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. (Jewish Encyclopedia 12:231)

The Kabbala, according to Charles Ponce, was not an established system of principles:

. . . the Kabbalistic tradition is not a unified system of thought or a fixed theology with hard and fast theorems. There are certain basic ideas to be found in Kabbalistic speculation, [37] but on the whole each mystic approached the material at hand from a different avenue, adding something here, subtracting something there. (Kabbalah, Charles Ponce, p. 127

The term Kabbala translates into tradition, but more specifically it is a book of mysticism, theory and commentary. Another source of these symbols, letters, astrological and even the physical descriptions of people, came from the famous Sefer Zohar or Book of Splendor. It is a commentary on the first five books of Moses, as well as commenting on many other ideologies. Some of the chapter titles are “The Palaces of Light,” “The Discourse of the Child,” “The Academy Head,” “Mysteries of the Torah,” “Small Additional Pieces,” “Commentary on the Song of Solomon,” “Secrets of Letters,” “The Mystical Midrash,” “The Faithful Shepherd,” and others. In a section called “Discourse of the Old Man” an old donkey driver discusses the doctrine of metempsychosis with a rabbi. This book is described as-

A pseudopigraphic work which pretends to be a revelation from God. . .  Under the form of a commentary on the Pentateuch, written partly in Aramaic and partly in Hebrew, it . . . first appeared in Spain in the thirteenth century. (Jewish Encyclopedia 12:689)

It was also said that “it propagated many superstitious beliefs, and produced a host of mystical dreamers” and “produced a strong tendency to substitute a mystic Judaism for the rabbinical. . . .” (Ibid., 12:693)

It was not until the writing of the Zohar in Spain sometime between 1280 and 1290 that the two branches of Kabbalism, the practical and the speculative, became united. When people speak today of the Kabbala, they generally have this work in mind.


[38]           Thus, the increasing popularity of the Kabbala had a great deal to do with a greater acceptance of the reincarnation concept:

The doctrine <of reincarnation or metempsychosis> counted so few adherents among the Jews that, with the exception of Abraham ibn Daud . . . no Jewish philosopher until Hasdai Crescas even deemed it necessary to refute it. Only with the spread of the Cabala (Kabbala) did it begin to take root in Judaism, and then it gained believers even among men who were little inclined toward mysticism. (Jewish Enc. 12:232)

The Kabbalists quickly “took up the idea of pre-existence and included it in their theory of transmigration or reincarnation.” (Kabbalah, Ponce, p. 201)



As with Judaism, the ideology of the transmigration of souls was not taught in early Christianity either. Origen was the first of the great philosophers and intellectuals who came from within the Christian faith to teach these ideas as truth. This famous Christian father was a convert in the third century and was a Stoic, a Neo-Pythagorean, a Platonist, and a Gnostic, yet he chose to be a Christian as well. Origen’s influence was tremendous, and his writings were in the hundreds. Will Durant described his philosophic bend:

Like Plotinus he <Origen> had studied under Ammonius Saccas, and sometimes it is hard to distinguish his philosophy from theirs. God, in Origen, is not Yahveh, he is the First Principle of all things. Christ is not the human figure described in the New Testament; he is the Logos or Reason who organizes the world; as such he was created by God the Father, and is subordinate to him. In Origen, as in Plotinus, [39] the soul passes through a succession of stages and embodiments before entering the body; and after death it will pass through a like succession before arriving at God. Even the purest souls will suffer for a while in Purgatory; but in the end all souls will be saved. After the “final conflagration” there will be another world with its long history, and then another, and another. . . . Each will improve on the preceding, and the whole vast sequence will slowly work out the design of God. (Story of Civilization, Durant, 3:614-15)

Origen was one of the most intellectual Biblical scholars; yet strangely enough, he wrote:

By some inclination toward evil, certain souls . . . come into bodies, first of men; then through their association with irrational passions, after the allotted span of human life, they are changed into beasts, from which they sink to the level of … plants. From this condition they rise again through the same stages and are restored to their heavenly place. (See De Principlis, Book III, Chap. 5.)

Origen also discussed this in his book Contra Celsum.

Gradually through the centuries there were a few others who toyed with the idea of reincarnation. The noted St. Augustine (354 – 430 A.D.), Bishop of Hippo, also pondered on the subject, and in his book, Confessions of Saint Augustine, asked the question, “Did my infancy succeed another age of mine that died before it?” But he concluded that he had no one to tell him-not even “mine own memory.” He, like many others, could not find answers from the scriptures.

For a quick Christian historical review of this philosophy during this period of time, let’s go to an encyclopedic synopsis-


[40]           Within the Christian Church it <reincarnation> was held during the first centuries by isolated Gnostic sects, and by the Manichaeans in the 4th and 5th centuries, but it was invariably repudiated by orthodox theologians. In the middle ages these traditions were continued by the numerous sects known collectively as Cathari. At the Renaissance we find the doctrine in Giordano Bruno, and in the 17th century in the theosophist van Helmont. A modified form of it was adopted by Swedenborg. During the classical period of German literature, metempsychosis attracted much attention: Goethe played with the idea, and it was taken up more seriously by Lessing, who borrowed it from Charles Bonnet, and by Herder. It has been mentioned with respect by Hume and by Schopenhauer. (Enc. Brit., 1985 ed., 15:33)

There is very little to be drawn from the Bible that supports the idea of being born into mortality many times. Mark Albrecht stated:

Many people insist that the Bible teaches reincarnation, citing a number of obscure verses, always out of context and buttressed by explanatory comments which have highly dubious exegetical roots. (Reincarnation-A Christian Appraisal, Albrecht, p. 36)

Supporters claim that they can prove reincarnation from the New Testament, citing Matthew 11:14 and 16:13-14 and Luke 9:18-19 as evidence:

And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. (Matt. 11:14)

. . . he <Jesus> asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Matt. 16:13-14)


[41]           . . . and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. (Luke 9:18-19)

One reincarnationist uses the following reasoning to explain these scriptures:

There are many passages in the Bible itself indicating that Christ and his followers were aware of the principle of reincarnation. Once, the disciples of Jesus asked him about the Old Testament prophecy that Elias would reappear on earth. In the Gospel of St. Matthew we read, “And Jesus answered them, Elias shall truly first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not. . . . Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” In other words, Jesus declared that John the Baptist, who was beheaded by Herod, was a reincarnation of the prophet Elias. Again speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus said, “This is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Coming Back, op. cit., p. 4)

The fact that some of the people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, Elias, Jeremias, or one of the prophets does indicate that they thought Jesus could have been a reincarnated person. Since this was a common belief among the Romans, they could have applied it to the Savior. That was what Herod believed and had said.

However, Peter came up with the correct identity, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” which shows that Jesus was not a reincarnation of “one of the prophets.” Here was an excellent opportunity for Christ to have said something in support of mortal rebirth, but nowhere did he give any credence to it.


[42]           A further clarifying explanation is found in the Mormon reference book, The Compendium, by Richards and Little:

John the Baptist was AN Elias, or forerunner-for that is what the name or title “Elias” means-as he came to prepare the way before the Lord. In the same sense Joseph Smith was also an Elias, because he came to prepare the way before the Lord preceding his second coming. The office of John was that of an Elias, and therefore the Lord referred to him as such. (p. 281)

Another quotation used by the teachers of reincarnation pertains to the blind man:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:1-3)

The man, they infer, could have sinned before he was born. Jesus answered by saying only that the works of God could be manifest in his healing. This would have been another opportune time for Jesus to talk about reincarnation, but He never gave it a sentence of substantiation. The question does imply, however, the disciples’ belief in the doctrine of a pre-mortal life.

Still another passage which has often been quoted by those who believe we must be born again into mortality comes from John 3:1-13, a portion of which reads: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (3:3) Jesus then clarified what type of birth this was-not born again of woman, but rather “born of water and of the Spirit” so he could “enter into the kingdom of [43] God.” (v. 5) He continued with, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (vs. 6-7) It is very clear that Jesus was talking about a water baptism and a spiritual confirmation, not a physical or mortal rebirth. The Prophet Joseph explained:, “Being born again comes by the spirit of God through ordinances.” (DHC 3:392)

Continuing on with the history of this philosophy among the Christians, there is evidence that some sort of belief in reincarnation existed among the Druids of Western Europe. Also, from ancient Irish records there are stories of the rebirths of some of their heroes. The Far East has generally supported a belief in reincarnation for many centuries-much more so than in American and European nations where its popularity growth is more recent.

A blending of Christianity with a modern transmigration philosophy is becoming more and more accepted in these Western countries. For example, Rev. W. R. Alger, a Unitarian clergyman, published a book in 1860 entitled, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life. In it he advocates that-

. . . when the soul leaves the body, it is born anew in another body, its rank, character, circumstances, and experience in each successive existence depending on its qualities, deeds, and attainments in its preceding lives. (p. 475)

This same principle has also been accepted by other modern philosophers such as Hume, Kant, Shopenhauer, Renouvier, and McTaggart.


[44]  Theosophical Groups

The seven organizations discussed in this section fall under the general classification of being theosophical-supporting “any of various philosophies or religious systems that propose to establish direct, mystical contact with divine principle through contemplation, revelation, etc.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1982) Beginning with the larger, more well known groups, we will briefly discuss (1) Madam Blavatsky, (2) Church Universal and Triumphant (Elizabeth Clare Prophet), (3) The Rosicrucians, (4) Alice Bailey and the New Moon, (5) Guy Ballard’s “I Am” Order, (6) The Joy Foundation, Inc., and (7) Morningland-Church of the Ascended Christ.


  1. Madame Blavatsky

The theory of multiple births did not gain much of a foothold in the Christian nations until the appearance of the writings and teachings of Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891).

Helena was born in Russia in 1831 in an aristocratic family and became interested in the occult and mediumistic influences at a very early age. She was recognized as one of the most influential writers of the whole psychic/occult world, and wrote two major books, Isis Unveiled in 1877 and The Secret Doctrine in 1888. In 1875 she founded the Theosophical Society with Henry Steele Olcott. One author, Susy Smith, paid her this tribute:


[45]           It is one dynamic woman-Madame Helena P. Blavatsky-who is responsible for bringing the theory of reincarnation into common knowledge in the West. In fact, Occultism, as we know it today, owes everything to her. One of the most controversial figures in history, Madame Blavatsky was either a saint or a devil, depending upon whose version of her life and times you read. Probably the real woman was a combination of the two, and certainly the more interesting because she wasn’t lily white.

Huge, earthy, dirty, sloppy, chain-smoking cigarettes which she rolled herself, and not above using hashish and opium, this clever and captivating adventuress, a psychic of proved ability, had so much vitality and such great personal magnetism that she challenged the interest and commanded the loyalty of many of the intellectuals of the last century. (Reincarnation for the Millions, Smith, p. 44)

In her early writings she rejected the idea of being born again and again, but later she became converted to it. The organization of her Theosophical Society was an outgrowth of spiritualism which at first she considered as coming from the lower regions.

In 1879 Blavatsky and Olcott sailed for India and set up headquarters in Adyar. However, when she discovered Hinduism and Buddhism, she became fascinated with them, and began to believe in the teachings and the spiritual manifestations of the “masters” who could reveal mysteries and knowledge. An altar was set up and soon messages and letters from the spirit world began to arrive. The doctrine of rebirths was revealed to her through this new avenue of spiritualism, and her theosophy accepted these “higher vibrations”, also adopting some of their yoga and meditations. From one of her works comes the following:

We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making, and the riddle of life that we will not solve, and then [46] accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily, there is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life. (The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky)

A scandal arose concerning an ancient document she claimed to have discovered. Soon it was revealed that the document was a forgery, the work of Helena herself, and she left India never to return. This charge followed her for nearly 20 years.

After Madame Blavatsky settled in London in 1887, she became acquainted with Annie Besant, who became a close colleague. In 1891 Madame Blavatsky died and Annie Besant’s career was launched forward when she succeeded Blavatsky as head of the Society; through her efforts it became a worldwide organization.

The Theosophical Society in America was started in New York City under the direction of William Q. Judge. From the beginning there was resentment at the control of the American Theosophical Society from India. Both Judge and Annie Besant hoped to take over the control of the Society. However, when Besant spoke to overflow crowds at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, she won fame and recognition which didn’t help Judge’s hopes for control of the Society. Judge later claimed that Besant was “under the control of dark forces,” and in 1895 he declared his organization as being independent from the British headquarters and began the Theosophical Society of America. Through these two groups and resulting outcroppings of such societies, the ideology of multiple lives has grown throughout the United States. Suzy Smith observed:

If Theosophists choose still to believe in the existence and power of their mahatmas, that is their business. It has [47] also become the business of many spiritualists and “New Age” churches throughout the country. (Reincarnation for the Millions, p. 51)


  1. Church Universal and Triumphant (Elizabeth Clare Prophet)

In 1958 the Church Universal and Triumphant was started in Washington, D.C. by Mark L. Prophet, under the direction of the spirit of the Ascended Master El Morya. These “masters”, who are “immortal, God-free beings”, initiated the publication of their teachings to tell others how they victoriously passed all of their tests and trials on earth through reincarnation, or a round of rebirths. El Morya was first contacted by Helena Blavatsky, and is considered to be the Chief of the Darjeeling Council of their brotherhood.

In 1966 their headquarters moved to Colorado Springs where publishing continued. Their Montessori School was established in 1970 promoting bi-lingual education for the children of the “Keepers of the Flame” group, which eventually grew to a full elementary and high school program. Their Summit University was founded in Santa Barbara in 1971 to provide more intensive teachings of the Ascended Master of the Keepers of the Flame, and the students go through intensive 12-week summer sessions.

In 1973 Mark Prophet died, but his wife Elizabeth assumed full leadership of the organization which added groups throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Philippines and Africa.


[48]           Elizabeth Clare Prophet, perhaps today’s most successful and recognized reincarnationist, claims her authority came from the Savior Himself:

The vision of the church was given to me as I saw beloved Jesus the Christ in heaven standing at the altar of a mighty cathedral. * * * And Jesus revealed to me that it was time for that Church . . . . And so Jesus appointed me to inaugurate this Church; and he placed upon me the mantle of the Vicar of Christ, which means simply the representative of Christ. Mother Mary was the head of the Church when Jesus left. (The Great White Brotherhood, Prophet, p. 295)

In 1974 the Church Universal and Triumphant was incorporated and the Summit Lighthouse remained the publishing arm of the group. In 1976 the headquarters moved to Pasadena, California, and two years later to Malibu, California. The International Headquarters moved in 1986 to a 33,000 acre Royal Teton Ranch just north of Yellowstone Park in Montana. They are advocates of organic farming, ranching, and a self-sufficient spiritual community.

This group has combined the Judo-Christian religions with those of the Far East. They believe that human beings are conceived in the mind of God and are born as manifestations of the duality of God and that the “I Am Presence” is the central sun around which the individual evolves.

According to church teachings the goal of life for the soul evolving through numerous incarnations is to purify him/herself and to become one with Christ while in physical embodiment. The Masters teach the science of the spoken word, i.e., the use of prayers, mantras, and decrees to call forth Light, as the key whereby the soul can achieve this goal. (Enc. of Amer. Religions, p. 1150)


[49]           The number of members in this church is not available because it is against their policy to publicly give out such information. However, during a visit to their ranch and publishing house, the author learned that the ranch provides work for nearly 700 people, and their printing establishment in Livingston, Montana, involves over 124 members.

It is interesting to compare the complicated and bewildering teachings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet to the clear and simple communications from the Prophet Joseph Smith. The latter said, “I never design to communicate my ideas but what are simple; for to this end I am sent.” (DHC 5:529) He also said, “I do not calculate or intend to please your ears with superfluity of words, or oratory, or with much learning; but I calculate to edify you with the simple truths from heaven.” (JD 6:1) He advised others to do the same: “It will be well to study plainness and simplicity in whatever you publish, `for my soul delighteth in plainness.'” (TPJS, p. 164) Brigham Young testified that Brother Joseph succeeded in his goal:

When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up, in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission. (JD 5:332)


[50]           Both the Bible and Book of Mormon are records that teach history and the gospel in relative simplicity. W. W. Phelps testifies:

The Book of Mormon is just what it was when it first came forth-a revelation from the Lord. The knowledge it contains is desirable; the doctrine it teaches is from the blessed Savior; its precepts are good; its principles righteous; its judgments just; its style simple, and its language plain, so that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. (Messenger and Advocate, Sept. 1835, p. 178)

The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that if something is not right, it will leave you with a “stupor of thought” (D & C 9:9), which is what most people would experience after reading the following statement by Elizabeth C. Prophet:

On the 4 o’clock line under the hierarchy of Taurus is God Obedience, the ascended master Godfre, whose mastery of the flame of obedience makes him eminently qualified to deliver to us the flame of God-obedience and to give us the initiations of love under the hierarchy of Taurus. The seven mighty Elohim serve with Godfre to train millions of lifestreams in the law of conformity to the inner blueprint.

Beloved El Morya holds the position in Gemini on the 5 o’clock line, governing the energies of God-wisdom and testing us, with the reinforcement of the legions of Mercury, in those twin flames of Gemini, the Alpha-Omega cycle which comes through on that 5 o’clock line.

Serapis Bey, hierarch of the Ascension Temple, working diligently with the great seraphim and cherubim, initiates us in the white-fire core of the Mother, the flame of purity which we call God-harmony. To master the Mother flame on the 6 o’clock line, we must master the flow of harmony. We must be able to hold the reins of harmony in our four lower bodies. This is not an easy testing, inasmuch as it is a testing of the water element, of the energy-in-motion. It requires that we [51] keep harmony while in motion-in action-when for some it is difficult enough to keep harmony while standing still. (Great White Brotherhood, Prophet, p. 181)

Certainly an important key in determining the truthfulness of a principle or doctrine should be its clarity and simplicity.


  1. The Rosicrucians

The ideals and teachings of the Far East also found representatives in the West through Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. A revival was experienced in the 19th century through the formation of several Rosicrucian groups-the first of which was begun by and named after a Christian called Rosencreutz, who learned these teachings during his travels in the Near East.

Rosicrucians derive their traditional conceptions from the mystics of Egypt; however, they have adopted some from theosophy, Freemasonry, and modern parapsychology. Other fraternities evolved early in the 17th century, such as the Illuminati, founded in 1676 by Adam Weishaupt.


In 1670 Abbe de Villars published a book entitled Mysteries of the Cabalists and Rosicrucians, which the Rosicrucians violently opposed. Later Villars was murdered, some claiming that the Rosicrucians were responsible.

The Rosicrucian lodges grew in numbers during the 19th century, but unfortunately some were bent on fraud. Also about this time the Freemasons added a Rosicrucian degree to their initiations, and the Rosicrucians became greatly influenced by the Freemasons. In 1865 a Masonic order of Rosicrucians was founded in London by Robert Wentworth [52] Little. The history of Rosicrucians in the United States dates to 1694 with the Chapter of Perfection in Germantown, Pennsylvania-some of their teachings coming from the Kabbala and German occult teachers.

The modern Rosicrucian teachings are like those of the theosophists and Freemasons with a form of Christian gnosticism and mysticism incorporated. Transmutations, psychic powers, meditations, and yoga teachings are all included.


  1. Alice Bailey and the New Moon

Alice Bailey (1880 – 1949) at first joined with the theosophy practitioners, but later claimed that Mrs. Besant was using an autocratic demand upon her subjects; so Alice began her own work of transmissions. During her lifetime, she wrote 21 books on her observations, which often included meditations and contemplations in “the full moon”, and also founded the Arcane School. After Alice’s death in 1949, the movement splintered.


  1. Guy Ballard’s “I Am” Order

Guy W. Ballard (1878 – 1939) began an interesting group of mystic and occult followers, leading them into the theosophical teachings of the “I Am” movement. This occult metaphysical group based Ballard’s claims on an appearance of a personage who called himself “Omnipotent Life” who taught him about cause and effect, abundant supply, and reincarnation. This personage then changed into the mystical figure of Saint Germain, the 17th century occultist who had become one of the Ascended Masters. This Saint Germain described his mission as one of instigating the Seventh Golden Age or the “I Am” age of eternal perfection on earth. He said [53] he had hunted unsuccessfully all over Europe for someone strong enough and faithful enough to do the work; but failing there, he came to America and found Ballard. In 1932 Ballard began to release the message of St. Germain and other spiritual beings who had become Ascended Masters. By 1939, at the death of Ballard, over one million people were members of this group.

During its history, the “I Am” group underwent several setbacks, i.e., a former student, Gerald B. Bryan, wrote a series of books against them, and other former members also brought up charges that the Ballards were teaching a false religion. All of this resulted in an indictment against them for mail fraud through misrepresentations and false promises. The hostile press caused many students to leave during the ensuing eight-year legal battle, eventually resulting in the rebuilding and formation of new organizations. The headquarters for the main group is in Schaumberg, Illinois. They now have 300 centers throughout the United States.


  1. The Joy Foundation

The Joy Foundation was founded in Santa Barbara in 1977 by Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Huffer, who has concentrated on astrology, metaphysics, psychology, and the occult. Some of their teachings correspond with the “I Am” groups, including the “rays of light” teachings of the Masters. They describe their spiritual hierarchy as lords who have lived many lifetimes and become the Ascended Masters.


  1. Morningland-Church of the Ascended Christ

This church was founded by Daniel Sperato in Long Beach, California, in 1973. Sperato claimed to have experienced “avesha” or divine incarnation of the Ascended Master [54] Donato into his body and became the true personification of the Oneness. His doctrinal teachings are based on the Holy Scriptures, ecumenical creeds, holy apostolic tradition, United Lodge of Theosophists, Sanctuary of the Master’s Presence, and the list goes on and on.


* * *

It can truthfully be said that when men depart, even minutely, from the simple teachings of Christ’s Gospel, they begin to wander into and accept all sorts of strange, unusual and mystical teachings. Transmigration and reincarnation seem to always be a part of those bewildering theosophical speculations.

Christ commanded His apostles to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), but down through the centuries, just the reverse has taken place. Those “creatures” who were supposed to receive the gospel have instead taught the “messengers” the “philosophies of men”-among which is their belief in reincarnation.



[55]                              Chapter 6

                            LEARNING BY EXPERIENCE

It was called their first estate. They were agents there just as much as you and I are here. They could obey the law that was given to them, or they could disobey that law. (Orson Pratt, JD 19:316)

Experience is the ability to participate, to perceive, to understand, and to gain knowledge by living through certain events. Merely being alive or conscious is the basis of gaining experience. Because a person can learn from these experiences, he is better qualified to make choices. Simply being conscious and aware of events happening around him, or to him, will give an individual positive or negative experience.

Likewise, spirits in the Spirit World go through a series of events giving them experience. Some choose to do good, while others select evil, i.e.:

God gave his children their free agency even in the spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins. Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord. (Doc. of Sal., Jos. Fldg. Smith, 1:58)


[56]           Thus, the spirits in the Pre-Existence had experience and made major decisions, just as people do in mortality; but reincarnationists say we must be mortals in order to have experience. Personal traits and intelligence developed our character in that pre-mortal world just as much as they do in this world.

There are two basic kinds of education. One is knowledge which fills the mind with facts and figures in math, science, business, etc. The other is an understanding learned by daily experience-which also develops our character, morality and our will. But man usually overrides the second to achieve the first.

No university can provide the understanding that we gain from our experiences which contribute to building our character, feelings, and faith. This is genuine education, and we as spirits had such experiences in a pre-existent world.

When a person dies and goes to the Spirit World, again he is in a condition where he can have experiences, make decisions, and act upon them. It is the spirit that is alive and does the thinking and understanding. The physical body is merely the temporal covering for this spirit-it does not think, learn, decide, nor have experience.

In short, then, experience begins in the pre-mortal life, continues through mortality and once again in the Spirit World after death. Experience is not limited to mortality alone.

We gain most of our valuable learning experiences through difficulties in both pre-mortal and mortal life. Irving Cooper wrote:


[57]           Notice how often in a tropical climate, where everything is supplied by Nature to meet the wants of man, the people are backward, lazy, and relatively uncivilized. When outer circumstances are such that we are forced to think and forced to work in order to live and succeed, our growth is the most rapid. We are most favored when life is most difficult. (Reincarnation-A Hope of the World, Cooper, p. 19)

Brigham Young expressed the value of severe difficulties when he explained why they happened to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

Joseph could not have been perfected, though he had lived a thousand years, if he had received no persecution. If he had lived a thousand years, and led this people, and preached the Gospel without persecution, he would not have been perfected as well as he was at the age of thirty-nine years. (JD 2:7)

Brigham later expounded on the value of every experience in life:

There is not a single condition of life that is entirely unnecessary; there is not one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study and aim to improve upon the experience they gain. (JD 9:292)

Apostle Orson Pratt reiterates the fact that it is not the mortal body that gains the experience-it is the spirit:

. . . it is the spirit of man, and not the mortal tabernacle, that enjoys, that suffers, that has pleasure and pain. * * * the body, so far as we know, is incapable of feeling; it is naturally incapable of it; it is only the spirit, that dwells within the body, that feels. However severely the body may be injured, it is not the body that discerns that injury, but the spirit within the body that discerns it. * * * the body of flesh and bones, [58] when the spirit has left it, is incapable of any sensation whatever . . . . (JD 2:237)

Both believers and non-believers in reincarnation agree on the importance of experience; however, there is one main difference: the reincarnationist says you must keep coming back into mortality with a body in order to gain experience. The other view is that mortality is not the only place to gain experience.

Below are listed ten major reasons for believing that experience can be gained elsewhere:


  1. In our pre-mortal life there were some spirits that took an active, open   and rebellious position against Christ. They could think, make decisions,   and even engage in warfare, and they were actually thrown out because of          their rebellious stand. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his        angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels,               and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”    (Rev. 12:7-8) Thus, they acquired a great experience.


  1. In that pre-mortal war there were many righteous spirits also, who took                 an active stand for the truth and for Christ. Because of their active       role in defense of righteousness, they were great and noble: “And God saw           these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them; and          he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were             spirits; and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me; Abraham,   thou art one of them. . . .” (Abr. 3:23) These spirits had made the right                 decisions and acted upon them, becoming more valiant through their    experience in that warfare.


[59] 3. One of the reasons for coming into mortality is to allow each spirit             to take up a body, learn to purify it, care for it, and allow it to gain    its physical maturity. “We came to this earth that we might have a body             and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom.” (TPJS, p. 181)


  1. The body can reach its maximum capacity in only a few years on this earth. The spirit within it will always continue to advance in learning             and power. “We might ask, when shall we cease to learn? I will give you                my opinion about it. Never, never.” (Brigham Young, JD 3:202)


  1. Mortality is but a short time-less than the blink of an eye in all                 eternity. If just mortality was for gaining experience, it would be                stretched out for hundreds, thousands or millions of years. “The only     difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner       from this miserable wicked world.” (TPJS, p. 197)


  1. Little children who die do not have to come back into mortality again to               have mortal experiences to inherit the Celestial Kingdom. “And I also         behold that all children who die, before they arrive at the years of           accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (Joseph           Smith, DHC 2:381)


  1. All persons who have not had a chance in mortality to hear the Gospel, or            experience enough for salvation, do not have to be born again. ” . . .              there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world (not        worlds) to come. . . there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits.” (TPJS, p. 356) (not another mortal world)


[60]         8. Satan and one-third of the hosts of heaven were able to gain enough                 knowledge and experience in the Pre-Existence to prove unworthy of being               born into mortality. Their judgment would have to have been based on                 experience. Why could they not have come to earth and kept on being            reincarnated until they became more righteous? According to Brigham Young, “Those evil spirits are not permitted to receive tabernacles of              their own, and that is their condemnation and punishment. They have been             known to take possession of the bodies of men and women, and rather than       to be without a body, they have entered the bodies of brutes.” (JD 9:332)


  1. The devil said he would save all men. “Jesus said there would be certain                souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all.       . . .” (TPJS, p. 357) Reincarnationists say that all men will go through     mortality until they are saved or exalted. Whose plan does that resemble?      Brigham Young explained, “Jesus says, I will destroy Death, and him that            hath the power of it, which is the devil. And if he ever makes `a full             end of the wicked,’ what else can he do than entirely disorganize them, and reduce them to their native element?” (JD 1:275)


  1. Reincarnationists say we must continue to have many mortal bodies until we have gained enough experience. However, Brigham Young said, “These             bodies will return to dust, but our hope and faith are that we will             receive these bodies again from the elements@that we will receive the                 very organization that we have here. . . .” (JD 5:53) So, with our            resurrected bodies, experience continues.


[61]                                * * *

According to the reincarnationist, experience can be obtained only with a mortal body. On the other hand, the gospel plan clearly indicates that we have experiences in the pre-existence and spirit world after we die, as well as in mortality. The argument is presented that we must be born many times with a body in order to gain experience. But it should be remembered that it is the spirit, not the body, that gains experience!



[62]                              Chapter 7

                             THE PRE-MORTAL WORLD

For a wise and glorious purpose,

Thou hast placed me here on earth,

And withheld the recollection

Of my former friends and birth.

Yet, ofttimes a secret something

Whispered: “You’re a stranger here,”

And I felt that I had wandered

                                                From a more exalted sphere.

-Eliza R. Snow

“Oh My Father”, v. 2

There is an inequality among mortals on earth that is difficult to explain or understand: Why does a just and fair God send spirits to earth in such different and unequal bodies and circumstances? Some people are born rich, others poor; some are born healthy, while others are sickly; some are more intelligent or talented than others; some come into beautiful, lush surroundings, while others begin their lives in hot barren deserts or cold polar regions.

Even the modern Christian religions have trouble explaining such apparent unfairness. Irving Cooper, a noted Christian author, wrote:

We are unequal physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually, while opportunity and limitation seem always to be playing a game of tag with our plans.

[63]           Some men have strong and healthy bodies; others are frail and diseased. Some have grace and physical refinement; others are gross and coarsely grained. Some have quick and capacious brains; others are dull and limited in thought. Think, too, how completely our standing in the world is affected by what we are physically. Equality? Equality is denied by every fact in Nature!

In one of our large cities, for many years there was to be seen a little cripple seated at the street corner on a piece of carpet. He was certainly over forty years of age, but had a body the size of a boy of ten and his arms and legs were so twisted and distorted that it was unpleasant even to look at him. For years he had kept himself alive by selling pencils and papers, and the limits of his intellectual universe were bounded by the street-crossing at which he sat. Contrast the limitations of his life-the physical suffering, the dim yearning for friendship, the colorless days, the narrow horizons-with the many opportunities and friends which have come to us. If we believe there is a divine Power, then that Power is responsible for this man’s destiny, either directly by placing a soul without stain in this crippled body, or indirectly by creating a world in which such tragedies can take place.

Why are there so many terrible inequalities in environment? (Reincarnation, Cooper, pp. 7-8)

What has occurred to bring these differences about? The most logical explanation is that the mental, moral, and physical parts of our characters are results of our thoughts, desires and actions in a pre-mortal world. Hence, our life is not the result of some accidental mixup, nor can we blame God for the conditions of our mortal birth. Rather it is the accumulated result of our own actions previous to coming to this earth.

Since we “earned” our place in mortality before we came here, we should learn to accept our temporal destiny and not complain if we are born in adverse conditions or imperfect bodies. This life, however, gives us another opportunity to improve on those conditions.


[64]           When we come into this world as a newborn baby, we bring with us all of the traits and talents, likes and dislikes that will be developed throughout mortality. Just like a handful of various seeds that are scattered upon the soil to grow, each matures to the very germ of its latent faculties and unfolds the image of its first creation. So man reflects the image which he developed in the pre-mortal world.

When Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice,” He implied that His followers had known and heard Him before they came to earth. (See John 10:2-7.) Most reincarnationists have only a vague understanding of the beginning of the spirit body, whereas a student of the Gospel has a much more complete picture of how spirits were born in the Pre-Existence. Bruce R. McConkie presented this beautiful description:

Our spirit bodies had their beginning in pre-existence when we were born as the spirit children of God our Father. Through that birth process, spirit element was organized into intelligent entities. The bodies so created have all the parts of mortal bodies. The Brother of Jared saw Christ’s spirit finger and then his whole spirit body. “I am Jesus Christ,” that glorious Personage said. “This body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; . . . and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” (Ether 3:14-17)

We had spirit bodies in pre-existence; these bodies are now housed temporarily in mortal tabernacles; during the period between death and the resurrection, we will continue to live as spirits; and finally spirit and body will be inseparably connected in the resurrection to form immortal or spiritual bodies.

Animals, fowls, fishes, plants, and all forms of life were first created as distinct spirit entities in pre-existence before they were created “naturally upon the face of the earth.” That [65] is, they lived as spirit entities before coming to this earth; they were spirit animals, spirit birds, and so forth. (Moses 3:1-9) Each spirit creation had the same form as to outward appearance as it now has in mortality– “the spirit of man,” the revelation specifies, being “in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created.” (D & C 77:2) (Mormon Doctrine, p. 750)

The teaching of a pre-existence was predominant in the early days of Christianity, but according to the following statement, they were removed:

Under circumstances that to this very day remain shrouded in mystery, the Byzantine emperor Justinian in 553 A.D. banned the teachings of pre-existence of the soul from the Roman Catholic Church. During that era, numerous Church writings were destroyed. . . . (Coming Back, op. cit., pp. 4-5)

The pre-existent life was infinitely long and was a probationary, progressive school. However, there was an atmosphere of free agency, allowing some to become “noble and great”, while others chose to be rebellious, cruel and warlike. All had power to progress in many fields of learning, or they could neglect them. The reincarnationist says that we lived before we came here as mortals. However, they cannot conceive of our learning, acting and gaining experience as a spirit in a spirit world. But the scripture says at death “shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Eccles. 12:7)

God in His wisdom did not create these spirits and then immediately send them down to earth without any preparation or understanding of what to expect in mortality. Orson Pratt explains:


[66]           This period of pre-existence must have been sufficiently long to have educated and instructed the spirit in the laws and order of government, pertaining to the spiritual world; to have rendered itself approved or disapproved by those laws; to have been tried in all points, according to its capacities and knowledge, and the free agency which always accompanies and forms a part of the nature of intelligent beings; in fine, the period of pre-existence must have been sufficiently long to have constituted a probationary state, or the “First Estate” wherein the spirits are on trial, and may fall, and be reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (The Seer, Pratt, p. 18)

In the pre-mortal world, the spirit body was born just as a mortal body is born on earth. Spirits are actually born to an exalted heavenly father and mother. And when others become similarly exalted, they too will have spirit children. That family unit will continue much the same as it can on earth.

Peter wrote that we had “fathers of our flesh” but that we should “rather be in subjection unto the father of our spirits”. (Heb. 12:9) And according to Paul’s writings, Jesus was the “first born among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29) These scriptural evidences show that we are the literal spiritual offspring of parents in heaven, not an evolutionary growth of some materialistic substance, as many reincarnationists believe.

Thus, if we are the offspring of heavenly parents, they would naturally want to look after us in the same kindly and careful manner as we would our children here on earth. Would these concerned and protective parents send us to a strange place to go through a mystical series of circuitry over and over again? Wouldn’t it seem reasonable that instead they would have us gain our experience and learn our lessons during one mortal lifetime, without repeating it numerous times?


[67]           One of the best examples of the progress of man-from the spirit world into mortality, back to the spirit world and on to resurrection and exaltation-was seen by Mosiah Hancock in his vision of the pre-mortal state, where he saw the activities and progress of the spirits of men, i.e., Abraham, other great men, and even himself:

At last the time came for me to go to the earth. The Savior came to me and said, “Mosiah, it is time for you to prepare to go. You have been faithful so long here, it is time for you to go, that you may return and be as we are.” * * *

I knew my departure was near at hand and I asked, “If on my return I could have the same position I then held.” Then the Savior said, “Yes, and greater, but you have to go down to the earth, and take a lowly position and be misunderstood by man, even your brethren, and endure many hardships and set many examples of humility and patience, that you may return and enter the glory, even such as I have.” (Mosiah Hancock Journal, Addendum, pp. 3-4)

The experiences obtained in the Pre-Mortal World are so vast and important that they can produce both extremes-great and noble, wicked and evil.



[68]                              Chapter 8


                              AND FOREORDINATION

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, . . . (1 Peter 1:19-20)

Predestination and foreordination have similar definitions as they both refer to something being planned or decreed beforehand. Predestination means what it says-a destiny or destination planned ahead; and likewise with foreordination-an ordination that was planned ahead.

Men who have been foreordained to specific missions on earth were then predestined to the place, time and circumstances of their birth-to enable them to accomplish these assignments. This is the same as the Elders of the Church being ordained and given the commission as missionaries for the LDS Church. They receive their call based on their worthiness, free agency, valiancy and willingness to serve; they are then given a destination and specific time to fulfill that mission. Hence, their ordination is the result of their own faithfulness and free agency, but the time and place of their mission is predestined or appointed by someone else.

Most reincarnationists believe that our past, present and future are all predestined, and that our destiny depends on our lives on this or other earths. However, the Gospel of Jesus [69] Christ teaches us that predestination applies mainly to the time, place, race or nation in which we are born. Many people were given a specific calling, a mission, and were foreordained to it before they were born, but they still had their free agency in fulfilling that ordination.

Christ was chosen, set apart and ordained to come into this life as the Messiah, the Redeemer and Savior of all mankind. He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8) If reincarnation were a true doctrine, He should have been born in the finest of living conditions as He had “earned” it, but instead He was born in the most humble and primitive of circumstances.

Furthermore, since Christ was so perfect and Godlike, He should have already reached Nirvana, or wherever reincarnationists think the greatest souls go. According to their belief, He wouldn’t have to come back and trudge through this mortal mess again.

Other good men were also chosen, called and ordained for a special work on the earth because God had the foreknowledge of their character-not because they were predestined by their own better life in some other dispensation. The Prophet Joseph stated:

Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council. (TPJS, p. 365)

Jeremiah was one of those persons chosen and fore-ordained in the Pre-Existence. He came to earth with a pre-assigned mission and calling-but not because of his own good deeds in some prior mortal life here or on some other world.


[70]           Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jer. 1:44-5)

Abraham was another of the valiant spirits chosen in his pre-mortal life:

And among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Abra. 3:22-23)

Orson Pratt explains further the nature and selection of certain pre-mortal spirits:

. . . Now if the Apostles and others were called “with a holy calling” and “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” and actually received grace in Christ, and had the promise of “Eternal Life” made to them “before the world began,” then why should it be thought incredible, that in and through Christ they also received forgiveness of the sins which they may have committed in that pre-existent state? If all the two-thirds who kept their first estate were equally valiant in the war, and equally faithful, why should some of them be called and chosen in their spiritual state to hold responsible stations and offices in this world, while others were not? If there were none of those spirits who sinned, why were the Apostles, when they existed in their previous state, chosen to be blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ?” All these passages seem to convey an idea, that there were callings, choosing, ordinances, promises, predestinations, elections, and appointments, made before the world began. (The Seer, p. 55)


[71]           According to the scriptures, races and nations were predetermined and pre-destined by God:

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. for the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. (Deut. 32:7-9)

The Apostle Peter wrote to the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience. . . .” (1 Peter 1:2)

According to Peter certain men were chosen to specific missions on earth, not because of merits in a previous mortal life, but rather according to the ordinations in their pre-mortal life.

The mightiest and more worthy spirits were foreordained to be prophets or spiritual leaders on earth. The founding fathers of America and the framers of its Constitution were chosen according to the foreknowledge and foreordination of God and accordingly were born when and where they were in order to accomplish that mission. The Lord explained:

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose. . . . (D & C 101:80)

The Lord chose those men, according to their worthiness in the pre-mortal existence, not because of their achievements in a prior mortal life on this or other worlds.


[72]           According to the theory of multiple mortal sojourns on earth, man is like the spokes of a wheel that continue to revolve, according to his own Karma-reaping what he sows. Fate is the basis for reincarnation, whereas free agency, forgiveness and Christ’s atonement provide the basis for the Gospel of Christ.

The atonement of Christ eliminates the need for man to go through mortality again and again, for the Lord said, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18) Christ’s atonement eliminates the need for a return to earth to get rid of our sins and transgressions. But the reincarnationist believes they follow man from life to life, and world to world, until they are overcome and erased.



[73]                              Chapter 9

                                 SPIRITS AND

                           SPIRITUAL MANIFESTATIONS

I saw Abraham, when he came back from the earth, and many of the notable ones, when they came back to be crowned. I saw them step upon the platform of the Gods and receive their crowns, and enter into their exaltations. (Mosiah Hancock Jrnl., “Vision of M. Hancock,” Addendum, p. 3)

What the Mormon religion calls spirit, the reincarnationists call soul-the entity that is the life, the intelligence and the immortal part that leaves the body at death. The reincarnationist, L. S. Cooper, wrote:

Upon going to sleep or at death, the aura is withdrawn from the physical body, and it is then possible to study it by itself to see what it is like. It has been found that . . . it is a life-size duplicate or counter part of the physical body. . . . We appear exactly as we do here because of the counterpart of the physical body. . . and realize that our consciousness can use such a form much more easily than it can a physical body. (Reincarnation-a Hope of the World, Cooper, p. 36)

This is identical to the brother of Jared’s description of the spirit body of Christ. Apostle Orson Pratt recounted:

Well, that body-the body of the Lord-that the brother of Jared saw, was a personal body. It had fingers, a face, eyes, arms, hands, and all the various parts which the human body has, so much so that he thought it was really flesh and bones, [74] until he was corrected and found that it was the spirit of Jesus, that same spirit, says Jesus, which, in the meridian of time, should come and take a body, and die for the sins of the world. (JD 19:316)

When Jesus appeared to the brother of Jared, he said, “Behold this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit. . . .” (Ether 3:16), indicating that he had not yet received a physical or mortal body. He had not yet ever been born on an earth, nor passed through death or resurrection. He even stated that “all men were created in the beginning after mine own image,” (v. 15), showing that He and all of mankind were first born as spirits without a physical body and came into mortality to obtain one.

There is a major difference between the good (2/3) and evil (1/3) spirits: the good ones are born innocent into mortality; the evil ones come to earth without a body but with plans to possess one. Reincarnationists generally believe that all spirits will go through enough mortal lives to eventually reach the godhood status.

According to reincarnationists, the good spirits get a longer period of rest before returning to earth, while the bad ones make a quick return. Irving Cooper theorized:

The length of the period between incarnations has been found by actual investigation to range from five years in cases of the lowest human types to two thousand three hundred years in cases of the most developed, who still find it necessary to incarnate for the acquirement of a few remaining lessons. (Reincarnation, Cooper, p. 46)

Apostle John A. Widtsoe comments on this strange system of repeated births on earth:


[75]           By reincarnation the power of God seems also to be limited. He uses the same, relatively few, spirits over and over again, endlessly, to accomplish whatever may be his purpose. He seems to be short of material and vague in his purpose. This is out of harmony with the gospel, which teaches that there is a host of spirits waiting to take upon themselves mortal bodies. . . . (Evid. & Recon., p. 368)

Paradise, or the spirit world, has a very limited purpose and value for those believing that they must continually come to earth to gain more experience.

With the restoration of the Gospel, revelation once again came from heaven to man. For 1800 years there had been a heavenly silence, but when Joseph Smith began to have revelations from God, it seemed to open the floodgates to all kinds of revelation. Apparently, a seal had been broken and the devil was given equal rights and was allowed to give as many revelations as the Lord. Our generation is characterized by a wide variety of spiritual mediums and revelators. Brigham Young gave an important key as to why so many of these deceptive revelations were being given to men:

It was told you here that Brother Joseph warned the Elders of Israel against false spirits. It was revealed to me that if the people did not receive the spirit of revelation that God had sent for the salvation of the world, they would receive false spirits, and would have revelation. Men would have revelation, women would have revelation, the priest in the pulpit and the deacon under the pulpit would have revelation, and the people would have revelation enough to damn the whole nation, and nations of them, unless they would hearken to the voice of God. It was not only revealed to Joseph, but to your humble servant, that false spirits would be as prevalent and as common among the inhabitants of the earth as we now see them. (JD 13:280-281)


[76]           This cannot be emphasized too strongly as the reason why many today are experiencing revelations-when the Lord Himself seems to be rather silent at this time.

Perhaps an example of how “prevalent and common” they may be is described by Elizabeth Clare Prophet:

As I was walking down the street in Santa Barbara one autumn day in 1974, I sensed a presence and found myself accompanied by none other than Gabriel himself! He graciously escorted me into a cafe; and as I sipped a cup of tea and wrote his words on a napkin, he dictated to me the program for a seminar he directed me to hold in San Francisco called “Portals of Purity.” * * * I am always impressed at their naturalness and daring., . . . (Mysteries of the Holy Grail, Prophet, p. 8)

Fortunately, the Prophet Joseph Smith has explained the importance of discerning true and false spirits, which often seem very similar:

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery and ruin have followed in their train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed.

As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; … it requires the Spirit of God to know the things of God; and [77] the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that medium, . . . The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, . . . (TPJS, pp. 205-206)

Dr. Ian Stevenson, a parapsychologist, has delved into the possibilities of reincarnation through the spiritual force and experiences of some individuals. Author of the book Telepathic Impressions, he explains that people have had visual images of things happening a considerable distance away. In another book called Xenoglossy, he relates cases in which a person can speak a language that he has not previously learned by any normal method. Also, Dr. Stevenson describes instances where a woman under hypnosis will suddenly speak in a man’s voice and even give the name of a man speaking. He mentions people who suddenly write in the handwriting of someone who is dead, or in some foreign or dead language, which is beyond the experience or learning of that individual. One of his studies included “Crytomnesia” which is the ability of an individual to remember an unknown person or circumstance which later proved to be an actual person or place.

Dr. Stevenson also wrote the book Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, in which he gives some interesting situations in support of reincarnation. For example, he describes the case of Thompson and Gifford which is a good example of apparent possession by spirits. Thompson became compelled to take up painting and painted certain scenes that came to his mind. A number of scenes were closely identified to those already painted by Gifford. Thompson said, “During the time I was sketching, I remember having the impression that I was Mr. Gifford himself, and I would tell my wife before starting out that Mr. Gifford wanted to go sketching. . . .” (p. 374)


[78]           The problem in dealing with all of these spirits is the difficulty of distinguishing one from the other. How does one detect an evil spirit or a good spirit when they both can reveal, manifest, and perform acts which so closely resemble each other? Brigham Young clarified:

There are many Elders in this house who, if I had the power to mesmerize that vase and make it dance on that table, would say that it was done by the power of God. . . . Who could tell whether it was done by the power of God or the power of the devil? No person, unless he had the revelations of Jesus Christ within him. I suppose you are ready to ask Brother Brigham if he thinks the power of the devil could make the vase dance. Yes, and could take it up and carry it out doors, just as easy as to turn up a table and move it here and there, or to cause a rap, rap, rap, or to bake and pass around pancakes, or to get hold of a person’s hand, and make him write in every style you can think of, imitating George Washington’s, Benjamin Franklin’s, Joseph Smith’s, and others’ autographs. Can you tell whether that is by the power of God or by the power of the devil? No, unless you have the revelations of Jesus Christ. (JD 3:157)

From an article entitled, “Spiritual Manifestations”, there was included a statement from New York Judge Edmonds, who had spent years investigating reports of spiritual powers. The New York Herald, August 7, 1853, reported:

In the meantime, another feature attracted my attention, and that was “physical manifestations,” as they are termed. Thus, I have known a pine table with four legs, lifted bodily up from the floor, in the centre of a circle of six or eight persons, turned upside down, and laid upon its top at our feet, then lifted up over our heads, and put leaning against the back of the sofa on which we sat. I have known that same table to be tilted up on two legs, its top at an angle with the floor of forty-five degrees, when it neither fell over of itself, nor could any person present put it back on its four legs. * *

[79]           I have known a dinner bell taken from a high shelf in a closet, rung over the heads of four or five persons in that closet, then rung around the room over the heads of twelve or fifteen persons in the back parlour, and then borne through the folding doors to the farther end of the front parlour, and there dropped on the floor. I have frequently known persons pulled about with a force which it was impossible for them to resist, and, once, when all my own strength was added in vain to that of the one thus affected. I have known a mahogany chair thrown on its side and moved swiftly back and forth on the floor, no one touching it, through a room where there were at least a dozen people sitting, yet no one was touched, and it was repeatedly stopped within a few inches of me, when it was coming with a violence which, if not arrested, must have broken my legs.

This is not a tithe-nay! not a hundredth part of what I have witnessed of the same character, but it is enough to show the general nature of what was before me. (Mill. Star, 15:653, 654)

If the principle of multiple mortal births is a false doctrine, then evil spirits will do all they can to promote it. Brigham Young warned that discernment was vital in detecting the difference between good and bad spirits and revelations:

. . . I will ask, Is there any revelation in the world? Yes, plenty of it. We are accused of being nothing more nor less than a people possessing what they term the higher order of Spiritualism. Whenever I see this in print, or hear it spoken, “You are right,” say I. Yes, we belong to that higher order of Spiritualism; our revelations are from above, yours from beneath. This is the difference. We receive revelation from Heaven, you receive your revelations from every foul spirit that has departed this life, and gone out of the bodies of mobbers, murderers, highwaymen, drunkards, thieves, liars, and every kind of debauched character, whose spirits are floating around here, and searching and seeking whom they can destroy; for they are the servants of the devil, and they are [80] permitted to come now to reveal to the people. (JD 13:281)

Many cases of revelation or manifestations have been discovered to be a form of entertainment and were fraudulently reported to “get gain”. Some incidents defy normal physical or psychological explanation and so “extra-sensory perception” is the automatic conclusion, meaning that information is perceived from sources beyond our normal physical world.

After an exhaustive study into reincarnation, the church of Herbert W. Armstrong summarized their findings:

Although the Bible shows that human beings are not reincarnated, it also shows that lying spirits or demons have been around since long before man. They remember what took place in the past. When a person’s mind becomes receptive to suggestion, such as may occur under hypnosis, it is possible for a spirit to recite historically verifiable information through the human.

The Bible reveals that there are even occasions where it is possible for a fallen spirit to take over or possess a willing human mind. (The Spirit World, pub. by Worldwide Church of God, p. 23)

The unreliability of using hypnosis to confirm past events or previous lives has been recently substantiated:

Numerous scholarly studies have verified the danger of using hypnotism as a tool for reconstructing memories, either memories of this life or memories of a presumed previous incarnation. The unreliability of such hypnotically derived memories is sufficiently great that “the AMA (American Medical Association) has indicated that previously hypnotized witnesses should not give testimony in court concerning the matters about which they have been hypnotized.”

One of the reasons hypnotic subjects are not reliable purveyors of historic facts is because “the inclination to [81] confabulate (make up information) and to draw inferences to fill in missing information is apparently greater in hypnosis, and, as a consequence, can render the memory reports of hypnotized individuals deceptively more believable than normal recall.” This enhanced believability of the hypnotized subject can confuse even the therapist.

In addition to confabulating information under hypnosis, “there is evidence . . . that other exogenous sources such as books, movies, or special childhood and adult relationships may provide material that can be assimilated in a dissociated state and later be recalled under hypnosis as original material believed by the subject to be personal experience.” (Glimpses of Eternity, Arvin Gibson, 1992, Horizon Pub., p. 305)

Examples of hypnotic cases have frequently been cited as proof of reincarnation. However, it remains a very mystical and highly questionable source, as the following example shows:

Numerous publicized cases of claimed reincarnation have resulted from the use of hypnotism on people who “regressed” to former lives, in some cases even speaking in a foreign tongue, or describing detailed experiences in a different era and culture. The most publicized event in the United States was that of “Bridey Murphy” in 1952. Her story was essentially discounted in subsequent investigations.

A similar but more complex case occurred in England in 1976. It was the case of “Jane Evans,” and it was featured on BBC television. Upon being hypnotized, the 30-year-old housewife regressed into six previous existences. Regressed back to Roman times, she recalled a life as “Livonia,” wife of a tutor to the family of a Roman legate, Constantius, in the fourth century AD.

Jane knew substantial details of each life, but the most puzzling was her Roman experience. She gave details of individuals who could be, and were, checked historically for accuracy. She also named other Roman citizens who could not be found in historic documents of the period, but it was [82] assumed these were lesser known figures who didn’t make the history books.

One of those checking on the historic accuracy of Jane’s story was Melvin Harris, a compulsive browser in second-hand bookstores. He stumbled upon Louis de Wohl’s historical novel The Living Wood, published in 1947. The novel was devoted to the lives of Constantine, Constantius, and Helena who lived in fourth century Rome. Moreover, Harris found the names of fictitious individuals whom Jane had named as being among her acquaintances in her previous life.

Jane’s story collapsed after these and other discoveries. It appeared that she had read and forgotten the novel some years before. It is interesting that under hypnosis she could withdraw from her subconscious memory the details of the story. (Ibid., pp. 303-304)

If deceiving spirits have such power over mortals, it is natural that they would want to use various means of revelation to promote their doctrines and principles, such as reincarnation.

It should be noted that many of those groups, agencies, and individuals who believe in reincarnation also believe in and testify of receiving revelation. In many statements and publications by reincarnationists, they claim to have been influenced or dictated to by the spirit of some dead “master” or “Mahatma” who has given them visions, dreams, and revelations to do and teach specific things that would promote a belief in reincarnation.

How important it is, then, to have the gift of discernment in detecting the source of such spirits and spiritual manifestations.



[83]                              Chapter 10

                          THE BLESSING OF MORTALITY

The Sons of God shouted for joy, because there was a beautiful habitation being built, so that they could get tabernacles, and dwell thereon; they expected the time-they looked forward to the period; and it was joyful to them to reflect, . . . (Orson Pratt, JD 1:56)

Mortality is an important stepping stone along the pathway to everlasting and eternal life. It is not like a stage play with repeat performances. It is progressive, not repetitive.

Those supporting a belief in reincarnation state that they must continually discard their bodies as they are born and reborn over and over again. They consider the mortal body as a burdensome thing that needs to be cast away like an old coat. Being born again is a signal that they failed in a previous life and so they must get another body until they make the grade.

On the other hand, Mormon gospel teaches us that the body is a temple to be respected, revered, and treated as a delicate and holy gift from God-as it is the only mortal body we’ll ever have. It is to be preserved and sanctified so that it can be reclaimed in the resurrection as an acceptable home for the spirit for all eternity. According to Orson Pratt:

In the Book of Mormon we find Alma discoursing upon the resurrection of the dead, and also Amulek, and they both [84] testify that the bodies we lay down in the grave will come forth again, that every part will be restored to its perfect frame; both those Prophets declare that every limb and joint will be restored, though the body crumble back to mother earth, and the bones-the most solid portions of the human system, will be dissolved and return again to the dust. They declare that the materials will be brought together and reconstructed, that bone will come to its bone, and that the flesh that now clothes these bones, and the sinews and skin which cover the flesh, will also be restored. (JD 16:355)

One of the interesting claims of some reincarnationists is that the devil has a mortal body, that he once dwelt on an earth, and that he, too, will eventually be born many times. However, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:

Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy-any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and by and by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own; but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors. (TPJS, pp. 297-298)

All those heavenly hosts who rebelled against Christ in the Pre-Existence, were, because of their unworthiness, also deprived of the privilege of mortal bodies. The Apostle Moses Thatcher elaborated:


[85]           God was determined that every man, woman and child born into the world should be free. I say, because God would not adopt his <Satan’s> coercive measures, he rebelled against Christ, and one-third part of heaven followed him, and he fought against Michael and the hosts of heaven, and was cast down to earth with the hosts that followed him. But you can find no living man or woman that ever breathed the breath of life that fought on his side; for the condemnation that came upon them was a loss of opportunity to take a body. (JD 26:332)

Since the hosts that followed Satan were not permitted to have a mortal body, they have tried to steal or enter into other temporal tabernacles. Probably the best known account of this happening is recorded in the New Testament:

And when he <Jesus> was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine; and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. (Matt. 8:28-32)

Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff are just a few of the early leaders who concurred that indeed the devil did not have a mortal body of his own:


[86]           The punishment of the devil was that he should not have a habitation like men. The devil’s retaliation is, he comes into this world, binds up men’s bodies, and occupies them himself. When the authorities come along, they eject him from a stolen habitation. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 306)

The devil was cursed and sent down from heaven. He has no body of his own; therefore he is constantly endeavoring to obtain possession of the tabernacles belonging to others. (Brigham Young, JD 5:331)

God holds the riches of this world in his hands; the gold and silver, the cattle and the earth are his, and he gives to whom he will give. When Christ was upon the mount, Lucifer, the devil, showed him all the glory of the world and offered to give it to him if he would fall down and worship him. But do you know that that poor devil did not own a single foot of land in the whole world, and that he had not even a body, or tabernacle. (Wilford Woodruff, JD 18:120)

Even though the devil does not have a body, he tries to make people believe that he has. He does not own anything in this world, but he tries to claim it anyway.

The Lord told Cain that if he rebelled against God, he would become Perdition and be delivered up to Satan. However, the Lord also told him, “Thou shalt rule over him.” (See Moses 5:23.) Why? Because Cain had a mortal body and Satan did not. The Prophet Joseph explained, “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.” (TPJS, p. 181)

The message of this chapter, then, is to show that it is only the devil and the evil spirits that followed him that can enter into different mortal bodies-not the spirits of all mankind, as the doctrine of reincarnation teaches.



[87]                              Chapter 11

                                ANGELIC BEINGS

There are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. ((D & C 130:5)

By dictionary definition, an angel is “a guardian spirit or guiding influence,” (Amer. Heritage Dic.) and again, “a heavenly guardian, ministering spirit, or messenger; a fallen spiritual being, also immortal.” (New Intern’l Dic.)

An angel can be either a good or bad messenger or servant; God has his angels and the devil has his. Fortunately, Joseph Smith gave “three grand keys” to help us in determining one from the other:

There are two kinds of beings in heaven, namely: Angels, who are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones-

For instance, Jesus said: Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

Secondly: the spirits of just men made perfect, they who are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.

When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.

If he be an angel, he will do so, and you will feel his hand.

If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will [88] come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear-

Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.

If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands, he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.

These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God. (D & C 129:1-9)

Apostle Orson Pratt describes three types of “good angels” that pertain to this earth, adding the classification of those spirits who have not yet been to this earth to the two types already mentioned by the Prophet Joseph:

There are many different classes of beings in the eternal worlds, and among them are angels. Who are these angels? (1) Some of them have never yet come to take upon them bodies of flesh and bones, but they will come in their times, seasons and generations and receive their tabernacles, the same as we have done. (2) Then there are others who were resurrected when Jesus was, when the graves of the Saints were opened and many came forth and showed themselves to those who were then living in the flesh. (3) Besides these there are angels who have been to this world and have never yet received a resurrection, whose spirits have gone hence into celestial paradise, and there await the resurrection. We have now mentioned three classes of angels. (JD 15:321)

To reiterate, then, Orson Pratt described three categories of angels:

  1. Those who have not yet taken a mortal body
  2. Those who have been to earth and are now resurrected
  3. Those who have been to earth and are not yet resurrected


[89]           Referring to those angels in the second category (those who are resurrected), Apostle Pratt classifies them into two major orders:

According to the revelations which God has given, there are different classes of angels. (1) Some angels are Gods, and still possess the lower office called angels. Adam is called an Archangel, yet he is a God. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, no doubt, have the right to officiate in the capacity of angels if they choose, but still they have ascended to their exaltation, to a higher state than that of angels-namely, to thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers, to reign over kingdoms and to hold the everlasting Priesthood. (2) Then there is another order of angels who never have ascended to these powers and dignities, to this greatness and exaltation in the presence of God. Who are they? Those who never received the everlasting covenant of marriage for eternity; those who have not continued in nor received that law with all their hearts, or who, perhaps have fought against it. They become angels. They have no power to increase and extend forth to kingdoms. They have no wives, no husbands, and they are servants to those that sit upon thrones and rule over kingdoms, and are counted worthy of a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (JD 13:187)

Orson further clarifies:

There is a difference between the classes of angels called celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The celestial angels have not attained to all of the power and greatness and exaltation of kings and priests in the presence of God; they are blessed with glory, happiness, peace and joy; but they are not blessed with the privilege of increasing their posterity to all ages of eternity, neither have they thrones and kingdoms, but they are servants to those of the highest order. The angels of the terrestrial and telestial orders, while possessing a degree of happiness and glory, are lower than those of the celestial order. We might inquire, have angels not also these affections [90] which belong to the higher class of beings, inasmuch as they are resurrected beings? Yes, but herein they have lost, through disobedience, the privilege of attaining to the higher glory and exaltation. They have affections and desires that never can be gratified, and in this respect their glory is not full. (JD 13:187-188)

How could this be true if spirits kept returning to mortality until “they got it right” and achieved perfection?

At the funeral of James Adams, Joseph Smith gave some important information on both spirits and angels:

Hence the importance of understanding the distinction between the spirits of the just and angels.

Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire or glory. Angels have advanced further, their light and glory being tabernacled; and hence they appear in bodily shape. The spirits of just men are made ministering servants to those who are sealed unto life eternal, and it is through them that the sealing power comes down.

Patriarch Adams is now one of the spirits of the just men made perfect; and, if revealed now, must be revealed in fire; and the glory could not be endured. Jesus showed Himself to His disciples, and they thought it was His spirit, and they were afraid to approach His spirit. Angels have advanced higher in knowledge and power than spirits. (DHC 6:51)

As mentioned previously, the devil also has angels; they are of the class who have not received physical bodies. Brigham Young explained:

. . . And the dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. They were cast out; and if our Government had cast out the Seceders, the war would soon have been [91] ended. This placed the Spirit of Evil on the earth. Those evil spirits are not permitted to receive tabernacles of their own, and that is their condemnation and punishment. They have been known to take possession of the bodies of men and women, and rather than to be without a body, they have entered the bodies of brutes. (JD 9:332)

Thus, our lives here on earth are observed by angels-both good and bad. To them the earth is a stage and we are the players acting out our lives. On television we watch different actors and cheer for the good fellows to win. Apparently guardian angels do the same, for Joseph Smith explained:

The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained there-with. (DHC 6:52)

In at least three separate revelations to Joseph Smith, the Lord speaks of the awareness and concern of the angels:


*                . . . the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, . . . (1831, D & C 62:3)

*                . . . my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. (1832, D & C 84:88)

*                . . . your brethren in Zion begin to repent, and the angels rejoice over them. (1833, D & C 90:34)

The Lord also gave a revelation to Wilford Woodruff in 1889 containing a similar message: “The eyes of the Lord and the Heavenly Hosts are watching over you and your acts.” (Mess. of First Pres. 3:176)


[92]           Regarding the belief of some reincarnationists who say that people living on this earth also lived before on other earths, consider the following scripture:

But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.

The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth;

But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. (D & C 130:5-7)

This applies to past, present, and future inhabitants on this earth. All persons who leave this life cannot be born again as mortals on some other earth. This will be their only temporal earth.

Some suppose that the angels who came to Abraham and Jacob were angels from some other earth. Cleon Skousen gave an explanation of this:

The translation by Joseph Smith is more complete in describing these visitors and so we turn to that source for a description of what happened.

These three visitors are sometimes referred to as “angels” (Gen. 18:16, I.V.) and sometimes they are called “men.” (Gen. 18:2, I.V.) Perhaps a better explanation is found in the verse which says they were “angels which were holy men.” (Gen. 18:23, I.V.) These messengers were in direct communication with God and were instructed to “go down” and judge Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 18:19-20, I.V.) This would seem to imply that they had come from another planet or distant place of residence to fulfil their mission. It is highly possible that they may have been members of the Priesthood from the community of Enoch. Joseph Smith was told that the righteous people in the translated city of Enoch are “held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, <of a [93] lesser glory> and who as yet have not entered into so great a fulness as those who are resurrected from the dead.” (TPJS, p. 170) Joseph Smith also had this to say concerning Enoch, himself: “He is a ministering angel, to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and appeared unto Jude. . . .” (Ibid.)

It might also be kept in mind that this was about the time that Melchizedek and his people “wrought righteousness and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken.” (Gen. 14:30-34, I.V.) The scripture says that Melchizedek and his people were of that order which made it possible for righteous men and women to be “translated and taken into heaven.” (Ibid.) (First 2000 Years, Skousen, p. 311)

Joseph F. Smith explained more about angels who come to this earth as being those who belong to it and not some reincarnates from another world:

We are told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that, “there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.” Hence, when messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred, friends, and fellow-beings and fellow-servants. The ancient Prophets who died were those who came to visit their fellow-creatures upon the earth. They came to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; it was such beings,-holy beings if you please,-that waited upon the Savior and administered to Him on the Mount. The angel that visited John when in exile, and unfolded to his vision future events in the history of man upon the earth, was one who had been here, who had toiled and suffered in common with the people of God; for you remember that John, after his eyes had beheld the glories of the great future, was about to fall down and worship him, but was peremptorily forbidden to do so. “See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the Prophets, and of them which kept the sayings of this book. Worship God.” (JD 22:351)


[94]           It is clear, then, that all those who come to this earth as spirits, translated beings, just men made perfect, or resurrected beings are those who belong to it This would naturally mean that the same principle applies to all other earths.

It should also be clear that people who live on this earth can become “angels” and can still work with those in mortality They do not need to come back and be physically born again. Joseph F. Smith explains:

There are laws to which they who are in the Paradise of God must be subject, as well as laws to which we are subject. * * * And except we become acquainted with those laws, and live in harmony with them, we need not expect to enjoy these privileges: Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Jedediah M. Grant, David Patten, Joseph Smith, sen., and all those noble men who took an active part in the establishment of this work, and who died true and faithful to their trust, have the right and privilege and possess the keys and power to minister to the people of God in the flesh who live now, as much so and on the same principle that the ancient servants of God had the right to return to the earth and minister to the Saints of God in their day.

These are correct principles. There is no question about that in my mind. (JD 22:351-352)

And then there have been some individuals who did not die; their bodies were translated:

For instance, Enoch and his city were caught up without seeing death. We read that when Moses departed this life, his body could not be found. Elijah, too, ascended up to heaven without dying. Also John, the revelator, was permitted to live upon the earth until the Savior should come, and the Book of Mormon gives an account of three Nephites, who [95] lived on this American Continent, who asked for the same privilege and it was granted to them.  (John Taylor, JD 18:307-308)

When Moses and Elias (Elijah) appeared to Christ (Matt. 17:3), they appeared in their translated bodies, with the same identity that they possessed while in mortality.

When Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, John, Moroni, Abraham, John the Baptist, and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith, each one had the same body that he had in mortality. They were perfected, resurrected beings with the same identity they had as mortals.

Returning for a minute to some definitions, we can now see more clearly why Bible scholars have determined that, in reality, angels are servants and messengers:

Angels, i.e., messengers of God-whose office is to do him service in heaven, and by his appointment to succor and defend men on earth. . . . (Peloubet’s Bible Dic., p. 34)

A Biblical angel is, by derivation and function, a messenger of God. . . . the Qumran Scrolls have a double hierarchy of angels, with associated mortals, those from the respective realms of light and darkness. * * * The beings thus denoted may be clearly good angels or clearly fallen angels. (The Tyndale Illus. Bible Dic., p. 50)

Immortal angels have a recollection and knowledge of life in the Pre-Existence as well as life in the Spirit World or Paradise. They are also aware of events that have occurred here in mortality since the creation of this world. Since their mission is that of a messenger or servant to mankind, would they not be able to appropriately impart some of this knowledge to mortals they are assigned to help? Could they [96] not have been a guardian angel to many mortals at different periods of time, and become intimately acquainted with each of them? And could they not, then, reveal details of the life and character of someone living at a prior time to someone living now? Wouldn’t this, then, explain how someone could be so familiar with another person who lived many years ago?

With all this angelic assistance available and designed to help us in our mortal lives, why would it be necessary to keep returning to earth as mortals and go through all this again-and again?



[97]                                                                                            Chapter 12

                           A DOCTRINE OF THE DEVIL

This is one of the most inconsistent ideas that could be possibly entertained in the mind of man; it is called the transmigration of souls. (Brigham Young, JD 1:93)

An interesting confrontation occurred between the Prophet Joseph Smith and a man by the name of Robert Matthias, who also called himself “Joshua”. The man claimed to have lived before on the earth and that he was even one of the original Twelve Apostles of Christ. His doctrine promoted the idea that men can live on the earth and then come back again as another person. The story of this man was recorded by the Prophet Joseph as follows:

Mon., Nov. 9, 1835.  * * * While sitting in my house, between ten and eleven this morning, a man came in and introduced himself to me by the name of “Joshua, the Jewish Minister.” His appearance was something singular, having a beard about three inches in length, quite grey; also his hair was long and considerably silvered with age; I thought him about fifty or fifty-five years old; tall, straight, slender built, of thin visage, blue eyes, and fair complexion; wore a sea-green frock coat and pantaloons, black fur hat with narrow brim; and, while speaking, frequently shut his eyes, with a scowl on his countenance. I made some inquiry after his name, but received no definite answer. We soon commenced talking on the subject of religion, and, after I had made some remarks concerning the Bible, I commenced giving him a relation of [98] the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, as recorded in the former part of this history.

While I was relating a brief history of the establishment of the Church of Christ in the last days, Joshua seemed to be highly entertained. When I had closed my narration, I observed that the hour of worship and dinner had arrived, and invited him to tarry, to which he consented. After dinner, the conversation was resumed, and Joshua proceeded to make some remarks on the prophecies, as follows–he observed that he was aware that I could bear stronger meat than many others, therefore he should open his mind the more freely.* * *

I told Joshua I did not understand his remarks on the resurrection, and wished him to explain. He replied that he did not feel impressed by the Spirit to unfold it further at present, but perhaps he might at some future time.

I then withdrew to transact some business with a gentleman who had called to see me, when Joshua informed my scribe that he was born in Cambridge, Washington County, New York. He says that all the railroads, canals, and other improvements are projected by the spirits of the resurrection. The silence spoken of by John the Revelator, which is to be in heaven for the space of half an hour, is between 1830 and 1851, during which time the judgments of God will be poured out; after that time there will be peace.

Curiosity to see a man that was reputed to be a Jew, caused many to call during the day, and more particularly in the evening.

Suspicions were entertained that the said Joshua was the noted Matthias of New York, spoken so much of in the public prints, on account of the trials he endured in that place, before a court of justice, for murder, man-slaughter, contempt of court, whipping his daughter, etc.; for the last two crimes he was imprisoned, and came out about four months since. After some equivocating, he confessed that he really was Matthias.

After supper I proposed that he should deliver a lecture to us. He did so, sitting in his chair.

[99]           He commenced by saying, God said, let there be light, and there was light, which he dwelt upon throughout his discourse. He made some very excellent remarks, but his mind was evidently filled with darkness.

After the congregation dispersed, he conversed freely upon the circumstances that occurred in New York. His name is Robert Matthias. He says that Joshua is his priestly name. During all this time I did not contradict his sentiments, wishing to draw out all that I could concerning his faith. * *

Tues., Nov. 10. I resumed conversation with Matthias, and desired him to enlighten my mind more on his views respecting the resurrection.

He said that he possessed the spirit of his fathers, that he was a literal descendant of Matthias, the Apostle, who was chosen in the place of Judas that fell; that his spirit was resurrected in him; and that this was the way or scheme of eternal life-this transmigration of soul or spirit from father to son.

I told him that his doctrine was of the devil, that he was in reality in possession of a wicked and depraved spirit, although he professed to be the Spirit of truth itself; and he said also that he possessed the soul of Christ.

He tarried until Wednesday, 11th, when, after breakfast, I told him, that my God told me, that his god was the devil, and I could not keep him any longer, and he must depart. And so I, for once, cast out the devil in bodily shape, and I believe a murderer. (DHC 2:304-307)

That same year (1835) William L. Stone wrote a book entitled, Matthias and His Impostures, about the life and beliefs of this notorious man, whose actual name was Robert Matthews. Stone states that Matthews was about 45 years old at the time he met Joseph Smith. He was an orphan at an early age, had two brothers, was married in 1813, went broke in a mercantile business venture, and joined a Scotch Church where he had some personal difficulties with the minister. He had an increasing interest in religious matters and finally met a [100] Rev. Kirk, to whom he became very strongly attached and adopted many of his doctrinal views.

Among Matthews’ religious teachings was that strong drinks and meat should be avoided and that the main source of food should be bread, fruits, and vegetables. He claimed this information was given to him in a revelation. About this time he grew a beard and began to preach, prophesying that Albany, New York, would be destroyed and urged people to leave.

It was now that he assumed the name of Matthias, and gave out that he was a Jew. He then departed upon his mission for the conversion of the world. From thence he turned his steps to the southeast and traversed the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and commenced preaching to the Indians. (Matthias and His Impostures, pp. 29-30)

Matthews collected a small following of members to whom he taught to “abstain from costly articles of dress or furniture, to drink neither tea or coffee-and in short, to deny themselves all the luxuries and most of the comforts of life.” (Ibid., p. 50) He also taught them to fast one or two days a week.

He met a Mr. Elijah Pierson, who began preaching in June of 1830, and among his teachings was a belief in reincarnation:

Elias, as everybody knows, was only another name for John the Baptist; and hence he concluded that the spirit of John the Baptist had taken up his abode in him, and that he was the forerunner of Matthias. (Ibid., p. 106)

When Elijah Pierson met an old friend, Mr. Hervey, he was greeted by another person mentioned only as M.H.S. and [101] was told by him that he (Elijah) was John the Baptist. The following conversation took place:

Mr. Hervey.  Is that the gentleman to whom you alluded as being the Shiloh?

M.H.S.  Oh no, sir!  This is John the Baptist, who is not worthy to unloose even the shoe-latches of the one who is upstairs.

On approaching yet nearer to this grotesque and demure-looking gentleman, and scrutinizing him closely, the dialogue was continued.

Mr. Hervey. Why, you are my old friend Pierson, whom I have met abroad. “surely (surveying him yet more closely) you are Elijah Pierson; nothing more or less. And do you presume to say that you are the veritable John the Baptist? Surely you do not pretend to say that this head upon your shoulders (laying his hand upon his head), is the very identical head that was taken off by Herod, and brought to his daughter in a charger?”

M.H.S. The very same.

Mr. Pierson. No; I do not mean to be understood as saying that this head of mine is the very same head that was cut from the body of John the Baptist; but I mean to say, that the spirit of Elijah Pierson, leaving this tabernacle (significantly pointing to his heart), the spirit of Elijah the Prophet thereupon entered, and abode for awhile;-and that now the spirit of John the Baptist has taken the place of that of Elijah. And therefore I may justly be considered, and am, in fact, and to all intents and purposes, John the Baptist. (Ibid., p. 125)

This same Mr. Piersen, claiming to be John the Baptist, was later supposedly killed by this Matthews, who was the Apostle Matthias. It didn’t sound characteristic of two great spirits from the past! In April of 1835 Matthews was arraigned for the murder of his friend, Mr. Pierson, supposedly on the basis of evidence that he gave him “a deadly substance” which [102] was found in the stomach of his friend. The two had been having some disagreements about “tilling the ground.” When Pierson began to go into convulsions from poison, Matthews said it was caused by “fifty devils”. The judge told the jury that there was no evidence that Matthews had given the poison to Pierson, so the jury returned the verdict of “not guilty”. But as soon as that was over, he received another indictment for assaulting his 18-year-old daughter, Isabella Lainsdell, with a whip.

A rather humorous incident occurred when Matthias met a man and began to explain that he was Matthias, the ancient Apostle:

“Mr. F_______,” said he, “how long do you think I have been upon this earth?” “Indeed, I have no idea, sir,” was the reply. “Well, I will tell you,” rejoined the prophet; “more than eighteen hundred years!” Mr. F________, knowing nothing as to the peculiarity of his character at the time, it may be imagined, was somewhat surprised at so extraordinary an annunciation, and scanning him from top to toe, involuntarily exclaimed, “The d____d you have; do you tell me so!” “I do,” observed the other. “Then all I have to say is, that you are a remarkably good-looking fellow for one of your age!” Matthews put on one of his sardonic grins, and with an indignant scowl, replied, “You are a devil, sir,” and walked immediately away. (Ibid., p. 276)

The case of Matthews (Matthias) claiming to be an ancient apostle has been well known throughout Church history and labeled as a doctrine of the devil. Some of the Church authorities have commented on this historical incident, four of which are included here:


Joseph Fielding Smith:

Christ was born a babe at Bethlehem. That is where he got his body, and the only physical body, or body of [103] flesh and bones, that he ever had or ever will have. The doctrine of reincarnation is, says the Prophet Joseph, the doctrine of the devil! Of course the devil will teach people any doctrine that will contradict the truth. (Doc. of Sal., 1:18)

Reincarnation is a doctrine of devils, according to the Prophet Joseph Smith. There is nothing in the scriptures or in the gospel that teaches such a doctrine; but to the contrary, we are taught that each individual will rise in the resurrection to die no more. (Imp. Era, 1914, 17:993)


Bruce R. McConkie:

Reincarnation or the transmigration of souls-the rebirth of the same spirits in new bodily forms in successive ages-is a false doctrine originating with the devil. (TPJS, pp. 104-105) It runs counter to the whole system and plan of salvation whereunder spirits are born in pre-existence, are permitted to pass through a mortal probation, and then in due course become immortal, incorruptible, and eternal in nature. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 624)


John A. Widtsoe:

Contrast these feeble, lame, and incomprehensible explanations with the true doctrine of pre-existence, as taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Reincarnation fails utterly to comprehend the meaning of the human body. * * * Reincarnation rests upon an unsound foundation; hence is dangerous, and should be avoided.  (p. 366)

The continuous changing of bodies makes the resurrection and any redeeming act, unnecessary. It places the Christ in the class of fakers. A Christian cannot believe in reincarnation. (Evid. & Recon., 1960 ed., p. 369)


James E. Talmage:

The false doctrine of transmigration or reincarnation of spirits was repudiated by the Jews. (Jesus the Christ, p. 375)


[104]  There were a few individuals in the early days of the Church who did believe in the transmigration of spirits-to be born again and again:

Although transmigration has no counterpart in orthodox Mormon theology, it was central to the teachings of Charles B. Thompson, a Mormon who withdrew from the leadership of Brigham Young when he moved west. (Joseph Morris and the Saga of the Morrisites, C. LeRoy Andersen, p. 39)

In April of 1850, Thompson received a revelation that explicitly contained the principle of “regeneration” (transmigration): “And now behold I send unto you, my servant, Charles B. Thompson, in which is regenerated my dear son Ephraim my first-born, with the voice of Baneemy.” (Ibid., p. 40)

Joseph Morris also received a revelation that “Seth filled his second mission in the person of Moses, and is filling his third in the person of Joseph Morris.” (The Spirit Prevails, Joseph Morris, p. 644)

It is interesting to note that these persons who believed in regeneration, transmigration, or similar doctrines were always being fed revelations. If such a “doctrine was of the devil,” as Joseph Smith said, then the source of these revelations supporting that doctrine is obvious

Because of the experience the Prophet Joseph Smith had with a man who claimed to have lived before, we have his final words on the subject: “It is a doctrine of the devil.” This should suffice!



[105]                             Chapter 13


                              A WORLD OF SPIRITS

. . . thus they <the wicked> remain in this state <darkness>, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. (Alma 40:14)

There are many terms for that state or spiritual existence immediately following death: purgatory, paradise, spirit prison, etc., which is a purgative (purging) place of rehabilitation from the mistakes made in mortality. The Prophet Joseph explained:

Hades, the Greek, or Shaole, the Hebrew: these two significations mean a world of spirits. Hades, Shaole, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one; it is a world of spirits. (DHC 5:425)

And also from Joseph Smith:

I will say something about the spirits in prison. There has been much said by modern divines about the words of Jesus (when on the cross) to the thief, saying, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” King James’ translators make it out to say paradise. But what is paradise? It is a modern word: it does not answer at all to the original word that Jesus made use of. Find the original of the word paradise. You may as easily find a needle in a haymow. Here is a chance for battle, ye learned men. There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was-This day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits: then [106] I will teach you all about it and answer your inquiries. And Peter says he went and preached to the world of spirits (spirits in prison, I Peter, 3rd chap., 19th verse), so that they who would receive it could have it answered by proxy by those who live on the earth, etc. (TPJS, p. 309)

It seems incredible that those understanding the Gospel’s plan of salvation could believe in a mortal rebirth cycle and still incorporate the purpose and plan of Paradise, or the world of spirits! Why preach to spirits in that prison if they can repent only on earth in a mortal body? Why waste time on them if they must return to earth and forget everything they have learned? And why do temple work for our ancestors in Paradise if they have already left there to be born again on earth?

The Prophet Joseph Smith, quoting the Savior, said that in Paradise mankind would have the provision of hearing, believing and obtaining salvation:

What has Jesus said? All sin, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits. * * * Every man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin. And so you can see how far you can be a savior. * * * But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved. (TPJS, pp. 356-357)

Heber C. Kimball commented:

If you do not cultivate yourselves, and cultivate your spirits in this state of existence, it is just as true as there is [107] a God that liveth, you will have to go into another state of existence, and bring your spirits into subjection there. Now you may reflect upon it, you never will obtain your resurrected bodies, until you bring your spirits into subjection. (JD 1:355)

The obvious interpretation of this paragraph is that “this state” refers to mortality, and “another state” refers to a different state than mortality, or the spirit world. Otherwise, why didn’t Heber say “return to this state” instead of saying “go into another state”?

The reincarnationists believe that the spirit (or soul) travels to this spirit world there to await being sent down to earth again to learn by experience and repent of their failings. The Gospel teaches, however, that the spirit world is a place for repenting, and that their spirits remain in that spirit world until they have changed.

In contrast to returning to mortality and thus experiencing mortal death many times, Apostle Orson Hyde stated:

Well now, let these pipes and tobacco alone, and let whiskey alone; and sisters let tea and coffee alone. I know I am touching you in a vital place, but will you do it? “Oh dear, I shall die if I cannot have some.” Well, we have got to die once, and it had better be in a good cause than a bad one. (JD 17:14)

Those believing that we must come back into mortality again and again apparently do not accept the key that Christ gave as to how to get those spirits out of that prison. Erastus Snow said:


[108]  The mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, between his death and resurrection was a similar mission, but a very short one. It lasted only three days. While his body lay in the tomb, his spirit visited the spirits in prison, turned the key and opened the door of their prison house, and offered unto them the Gospel of salvation. How many of them were prepared to avail themselves of it at that time? Comparatively few. But he opened the door and offered the message of life and salvation, and having done this, His fellow laborers-the Seventies, Elders and others whom He ordained to the ministry-as fast as they finished their ministry in the flesh-continued their work among the spirits in prison. So is the Prophet Joseph Smith officiating and ministering to those spirits, . . . (JD 25:33)

The only way out of that spirit prison is not to be born again in mortality, but by being resurrected. Said Joseph Smith:

The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection. (TPJS, p. 310)

And also from Orson Pratt:

What further are we told on the subject? That after we get back into the presence of God, and return home again, then it shall come to pass that the spirits of the righteous, those who have done good, those who have wrought the works of righteousness here upon the earth, shall be received into a state of rest, a state of happiness, of peace, a state of joy, where they will remain until the time of the resurrection. (JD 2:238)

Those who believe that we all return to earth as mortals shortly after we die should reconsider what the scriptures say about all who died before Christ came to earth. Parley Pratt explained this subject:


[109]  Now, how are they situated in the spirit world? If we reason from analogy, we should at once conclude that things exist there after the same pattern. I have not the least doubt but there are spirits there who have dwelt there a thousand years, who, if we could converse with them face to face, would be found as ignorant of the truths, the ordinances, powers, keys, Priesthood, resurrection, and eternal life of the body, in short, as ignorant of the fulness of the Gospel, with its hopes and consolations, as is the Pope of Rome, or the bishop of Canterbury, or as are the Chiefs of the Indian tribes of Utah.

And why this ignorance in the spirit world? Because a portion of the inhabitants thereof are found unworthy of the consolations of the Gospel, until the fulness of time, until they have suffered in hell, in the dungeons of darkness, or the prisons of the condemned, amid the buffetings of fiends, and malicious and lying spirits. <None of these refer to mortal conditions.>

As in earth, so in the spirit world. No person can enter into the privileges of the Gospel, until the keys are turned, and the gospel opened by those in authority, for all which there is a time, according to the wise dispensations of justice and mercy. * * *

Think of those swept away by the flood in the days of Noah. Did they wait a long time in prison? Forty years! O what a time to be imprisoned! What do you say to a hundred, a thousand, two thousand, three or four thousand years to wait? Without what? Without even a clear idea or hope of a resurrection from the dead, without the broken heart being bound up, the captive delivered, or the door of the prison opened. Did not they wait? Yes, they did, until Christ was put to death in the flesh. (JD 1:10, 11-12)

Those souls remained in the spirit world for up to 4,000 years, during which time none was born again on earth.

Orson Pratt explained how repentance (and then resurrection) is the only way to get out of that spirit prison-[110] that repentance can occur in mortality and in the spirit world as well.

. . . as it is written in the fourth chapter of the first epistle of Peter– “For, for this cause was the Gospel preached to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the Spirit.” Now, if the gospel was preached to those who are dead, to the old ante-diluvians who perished over two thousand years before Jesus was put to death, for what purpose was it preached? That they might have the same privilege of hearing and obeying the gospel that those have who are in the flesh, and of being judged thereby. “But,” says one, “they cannot obey it in the spirit world.” They can in part, they can obey it so far as believing in Jesus is concerned, and repenting of their sins; for repentance and faith are both acts of the mind; but when it comes to baptism, being born of or immersed in water, they cannot do it; God has ordained that men, here in the flesh, shall be baptized for those who are dead. (JD 16:298)

If these spirits are going to be reborn into mortality, why couldn’t they do their own baptisms on earth again rather than have it done for them?

The spirit world is a place to get rid of the impurities that we failed to discard from our character while on earth: bad habits, wrong doings, and mistaken concepts and beliefs. But if it was difficult to discard these habits here, it won’t be any easier in the spirit world. Paradise is a continuation of our personality and character-good and bad. As Heber C. Kimball testified:

If you are subject to rebellious spirits, or to a spirit of apostasy here, will you not have the same spirit beyond the vail that you had on this side? You will, and it will have power [111] over you to lead you to do wrong, and it will control your spirits. If, then, you are opposed to the truth while you are here, you will be occupied in that opposition hereafter, for the spirit that is opposed to the work of God here, will be opposed to that work when beyond the vail. I do not guess at this, because I have been at the other side of the vail, in vision, and have seen a degree of its condition with the eyes that God gave me. I have seen it and have seen those that lived in the faith and had the privilege of seeing Jesus, Peter, James, and the rest of the ancient Apostles, and of hearing them preach the Gospel. I have also seen those who rebelled against them, and they still had a rebellious spirit, fighting against God and His servants. (JD 4:273-274)

These rebellious spirits will remain in the spirit world until they repent sufficient to be resurrected.

The reason paradise has often been called a spirit prison is because it is a place where spirits are held and prevented from going anywhere else-just like earthly prisons. They cannot migrate to earth or to any other sphere during that imprisonment. Since disembodied spirits cannot have a fulness of joy until their resurrection (See D & C 93:33-34.), this time spent in the spirit world is a type of prison for those spirits awaiting deliverance.

Reincarnationists think that the spirit prison is a holding area where spirits are waiting to be born again. But the Gospel teaches that it is a place to prepare for the resurrection. Some reincarnationists believe that even the animals and birds are waiting there to be born again on earth, but this is an incorrect theological concept, as Brigham Young stated:

There is another thought which strikes my mind at this moment, upon which it will perhaps be well enough to throw out a few ideas. It has been, and is now, believed by numerous individuals, that the brute creation, by increase in knowledge [112] and wisdom, change their physical or bodily organization, through numerous states of existence so that the minutest insect, in the lapse of time, can take to itself the human form, and vice versa. This is one of the most inconsistent ideas that could be possibly entertained in the mind of man; it is called the transmigration of souls. (JD 1:92-93)

After we pass through this mortal existence, we will have a perfect recollection of our whole life. Surely there will be no desire to trudge through this mess again; once is enough!

Similarly, a man who has just eaten a huge meal has lost all desire to eat another. So, too, everyone who has been through mortality will have had their fill of it and will have no desire to come back and do it again. And, as hopefully this book shows, there will be no need to do so.



[113]                             Chapter 14

                            THE SONS OF PERDITION

Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power-They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born. (D & C 76:31-32)

Men can do things in just a few minutes that will have an everlasting effect for either good or bad. A man can commit murder and will never receive a forgiveness, for the Prophet said, “A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness.” (TPJS, p. 339) Then he referred to Peter who told the people on the Day of Pentecost that because of their “involvement” in Christ’s crucifixion, their sins could not be forgiven but only be blotted out. (See Acts 3:19.) The Prophet concluded with, “This is the case with murderers. They could not be baptized for the remission of sins, for they had shed innocent blood.” (TPJS, p. 339)

Joseph Smith also explained that if we-

. . . seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. (TPJS, p. 256)


[114]  The Prophet Joseph said that men can commit certain sins from which they can never have “forgiveness”, and they will be bound down with “everlasting regret”. This is not the philosophy or concept embraced in reincarnation.

In the Pre-Existence, the devil said he would save all mankind; Christ said He would save all who obeyed the Gospel. Therein marks a major difference between the Gospel of Christ and reincarnationism.

Paul said, “As in Adam shall all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:22) The devil and his imps are eternally opposed to Christ; therefore, they cannot be saved or redeemed.

Brigham Young said:

The names of every son and daughter of Adam are already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Is there ever a time when they will be taken out of it? Yes, when they become sons of perdition, and not till then. Every person has the privilege of retaining it there for ever and ever. If they neglect that privilege, then their names will be erased, and not till then. All the names of the human family are written there, and the Lord will hold them there until they come to the knowledge of the truth, that they can rebel against him, and can sin against the Holy Ghost; then they will be thrust down to hell, and their names be blotted out from the Lamb’s Book of Life. (JD 6:297)

And from Joseph Smith:

The contention in heaven was-Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. (DHC 6:314)


[115]  Christ is referred to by many names: the Great Physician, the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, the Desire of Ages, etc. These are names that give understanding to His character and mission; they are not separate identities nor do they indicate rebirths.

The devil also is given may different names because of his mission and what he represents: Perdition, the Dragon, the Serpent, Satan, the Evil One, and Lucifer. Added to these are the titles Prince of Devils, Chief of Evil Spirits, Beelzebub, Son of the Morning, and at one time he was called even an Angel of Light. Erastus Snow said that these names usually referred to the power that the devil had:

Now the term devil we use also as a term representing a power that is at the head of the rebellion against God our Father. A power that stands at the head of that organized rebellion. A power that governs all evil spirits. He is called in the Scriptures that Old Serpent, the Devil, and Satan, and Lucifer, and a variety of names. These are applied to him, and all representing the chief power over that organized rebellion, that governs and controls these evil spirits, and that power holds the power of death over mortality, and over man in the flesh. (JD 19:275)

As mentioned, Perdition is one of the names of Satan, and Bruce R. McConkie described those who are “his sons” under the subtitle “Sons of Perdition”:

Lucifer is Perdition. He became such by open rebellion against the truth, a rebellion in the face of light and knowledge. Although he knew God and had been taught the provisions of the plan of salvation, he defied the Lord and sought to enthrone himself with the Lord’s power. (Moses 4:1-4) He thus committed the unpardonable sin. In rebellion with him were one-third of the spirit hosts of heaven. These all were thus followers (or in other words sons) of perdition. They [116] were denied bodies, were cast out onto the earth, and thus came the devil and his angels-a great host of sons of perdition. (Mormon Doctrine, 1958 1st ed., p. 674; 1979 ed., p. 746)

The Prophet Joseph described other sons of Perdition:

All are within the reach of pardoning mercy who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world nor in the world to come. (TPJS, pp. 191-192)

Jesus prayed:

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12)

The devil, once called a Prince of Light, transgressed from this honorable position and fell to become a Prince of Darkness. In that fall he transgressed so far that he lost all desire for anything good; all virtue and integrity were gone. Nothing in Satan or his imps can be permanently redeemed-only the elements from which they are made.

The principle behind reincarnation is to save everyone so that they have no alternative but to keep being reborn until they eventually have learned their lesson. But Paul gives the reason why many will never be able to repent:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. (Heb. 6:4-6)


[117]  From this statement it must be acknowledged that if a spirit cannot be renewed unto repentance, it is impossible for him to be saved. Rebirths or coming back into mortality would not do any good. For instance, when a lightbulb burns out, it goes completely dark. Screwing it back into the light socket a thousand times will not make it work again. Joseph Smith described the limits of grace that apply to the sons of Perdition:

. . . according to the Scripture, if men have received the good word of God, and tasted of the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again, seeing they have crucified the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame; so there is a possibility of falling away; you could not be renewed again, and the power of Elijah cannot seal against this sin, for this is a reserve made in the seals and power of the Priesthood. (TPJS, p. 339)

The Prophet also stated:

There have been remarks made concerning all men being redeemed from hell; but I say that those who sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this world or in the world to come; they shall die the second death. Those who commit the unpardonable sin are doomed to Gnolom-to dwell in hell, worlds without end. (TPJS, p. 361)

The expression “worlds without end” certainly indicates a permanent and unimproveable position. These sons of Perdition cannot pay a sufficient price or be released from that situation.

Joseph Smith answered some questions by W. W. Phelps along this line:

[118]  Say to the brothers Hulet and to all others, that the Lord never authorized them to say that the devil, his angels, or the sons of perdition, should ever be restored; for their state of destiny was not revealed to man, is not revealed, nor ever shall be revealed, save to those who are made partakers thereof: . . . (TPJS, p. 24)

If the devil and his angels cannot be renewed, “restored,” “redeemed,” or “saved,” it must mean that they cannot go through multiple mortal birth cycles either.

Most reincarnationists believe that all bodies are subject to the birth-death, birth-death system, and there are no exceptions. According to the Gospel of Christ there are, and some of them are not worthy to be saved. These are the “sons of Perdition”. The Lord Himself has revealed the reason why these men cannot be redeemed in the due time of the Lord:

Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power-They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come-having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame-These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the [119] Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made. (D & C 76:31-39)

And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. (D & C 88:32)

Those who rebelled against God in their pre-mortal state were denied the privilege of having a body, and those who rebel against God and Christ in this world will also be denied salvation or redemption, as there is nothing worth redeeming or restoring.

We are taught that “all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (3rd Art. of Faith) However, if they do not obey those laws and ordinances, they will not be saved.

Brigham Young explained that “It is commonly termed death to have the spirit and body separated; but literally that is not death only to those who are sons of perdition.” (JD 8:27) And again, “Jesus will bring forth, by his own redemption, every son and daughter of Adam, except the sons of perdition, who will be cast into hell.” (JD 8:154)

When Jesus said Judas would have been better off never to have been born, that means he gained nothing by coming into mortality. The position of never being born means they will not receive an eternal body in the resurrection.


The sons of Perdition have committed such terrible crimes that justice forbids them to come back even as a toad or snake. They must go to the lake of fire and brimstone, and cannot be reincarnated into mortality again. Joseph Smith said:


[120]  A man cannot commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, . . . I know the Scriptures and understand them. I said, no man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, nor in this life, until he receives the Holy Ghost; but they must do it in this world. (TPJS, p. 357)

If they cannot commit the unpardonable sin after death, then there is no chance for them to be reborn on earth to give them that opportunity. One chance in mortality is all they get. When they sin against the Holy Ghost, they are out of the power of Christ’s redemption. When they deny the power, they deny the benefits of it. As Brigham Young claimed:

They then throw themselves out of the power of the Saviour, and take to themselves power, and say, “I will not hearken to the Lord Jesus now; I will serve whom I please, and I defy the power of the Son of God.” They yield themselves servants to the Devil and become his angels. They are then out of the hands of the Saviour, and can never dwell in heaven, worlds without end. (JD 6:297)

Most reincarnationists believe that all will eventually be saved, exalted or reach Nirvana; but there is a limit to the stature which men can attain to in the next world: some will return to native element; some will be angels forever; and some will be Gods forever.

Some men who apostatize or turn traitors against God will never be acknowledged by God, for the Prophet said, “I testify again, as the Lord lives, God never will acknowledge any traitors or apostates.” (TPJS, p. 375) There will be no more mortal probations for them either. Brigham Young also clarifies this point:

The Lord is merciful, but, when He comes to His Kingdom on the earth, He will banish traitors from His [121] presence, and they will be sons of perdition. Every apostate who ever received this gospel in faith, and had the spirit of it, will have to repent in sackcloth and ashes, and sacrifice all he possesses, or be a son of perdition, go down to hell, and there dwell with the damned; and those who persecute and destroy the people of God, and shed the blood of innocence, will be judged accordingly. (JD 12:63)

With all the dangers and deceptions that currently exist in this Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, there may be more sons of Perdition during this dispensation than any other in history. The Prophet Joseph said:

All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (TPJS, p. 358)

In some ways, reincarnation is a pleasant philosophy for many to believe because everyone will ultimately be saved and reach Nirvana-or the station where God is. They believe that all can attain that high position; but this is the doctrine that Lucifer tried to teach in the Pre-Existence-a system that would save everyone. Isn’t it obvious that reincarnation teaches that same plan that once was rejected by God?



[122]                             Chapter 15

                           RESURRECTION OF THE BODY

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame. (Alma 40:23)

Those who believe in multiple lives must also believe in multiple deaths. The Gospel teaches that we live and die as mortals only once, as Paul the Apostle plainly stated: “It is appointed unto men once to die.” (Heb. 9:27) And Alma also talks about dying only once:

Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:45)

The Doctrine and Covenants also speaks of one death:

Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth, when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the [123] dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city. (D & C 63:49)

Death separates the spirit from the body; resurrection reunites that same spirit with the same mortal body, never to be separated again. There is only one body for each spirit and only one resurrection for each soul: “And the spirit and the body are the soul of man. And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.” (D & C 88:15-16)

Our bodies are continually burning out old cells and replacing them with new. Over a lifetime our bodies have processed many, many times their normal weight of earthly elements. So the question naturally arises, “What part of all those cells and elements are resurrected” As recorded by Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young explained how men are not resurrected with all the cells that have been in his body:

I attended the Prayer Circle where I heard some interesting teaching from President Young in social conversation which was not reported. The following is a key to some of the principles he advanced:

He referred to the preaching of Orson Pratt and Orson Hyde the Sabbath before upon the subject of the resurrection. He said the identical particles of matter in which we had honored our spirits with, i.e., our tabernacles in which we had suffered, travelled, laboured, and built up the Kingdom of God that would be the identical body and no other that would be raised from the grave to immortality and eternal life. (Wilford Woodruff Jrnls., May 6, 1855)

And again from Brigham Young:

If the spirit honours the body and the body honours the spirit while they are here united, the particles of matter that compose the mortal tabernacle will be [124] resurrected and brought forth to immortality and eternal life; but it cannot be brought forth and made immortal, except it undergoes a change, for “dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” What for? To prepare the body to be made immortal and fitted to dwell in the presence of the Gods. (JD 8:27)

If we believed in being reincarnated, there would eventually be a mountain of dead bodies behind each person. According to the Gospel of Christ, there is only one body and that body will be raised to an immortal state in the resurrection.

Sometime in the future Jesus will show His body to the Jewish nation, and they will see the wounds in His hands and feet:

And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. (D & C 45:51-52)

These are the same wounds and the same body that was nailed to the cross 2,000 years ago. Jesus did not, in the interim, travel through a series of life cycles.

Regarding the assumption that man will go through reincarnations until he reaches exaltation, the Lord said:

For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not Gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D & C 132:17)


[125]  These men are never to become Gods. They will not have a second chance, nor a tenth, nor a thousandth chance to reach exaltation. Being born again in multiple mortalities is certainly not an option for them.

It is written that the righteous dead who lived from the days of Adam to the time of Christ, such as Enoch, Noah, Moses, and Elijah, were with Christ in His resurrection. (See D & C 133:54-55.) This was when “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matt. 27:52-53)

When Jesus was resurrected, He appeared unto Mary, who knew Him, and to His disciples, who all recognized Him, and to many others. They saw that He did not have some other body or identity.

Those who came from these graves and “appeared unto many” were the same persons that were laid down in the grave. They did not lose their identity. The reincarnationist believes they take up new and different bodies. Furthermore, they all had been resurrected. At that point, how could they ever come back and be born again in mortality?

In the resurrection all things are brought back to their natural form, and so accurately are things recorded that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7), and they shall all be restored: “And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.” (D & C 29:25)

In reincarnation nothing is restored, as it starts all over again. Some reincarnationists even say that animals must continue through the process of different lives until they [126] become humans. This, too, is not supported in scripture, as John the Revelator wrote:

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Rev. 5:13)

John is testifying that “every creature which is in heaven” was giving praise to God. As part of the reincarnation theory, animals would have graduated to manhood before they ended up in heaven as animals. But this passage of scripture shows that animals have a final destiny in heaven, and are not part of the evolving and progressing mortal circuits. The Prophet Joseph commented on this scripture:

John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven,-all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven,-actually there, giving glory to God. * * *

I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,-strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.

Says one, “I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts.” Any man who would tell you that this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true. John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them. The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect: they were like angels in their sphere. (TPJS, pp. 291-292)


[127]  Brigham Young said that perhaps the greatest revelation ever received in the past 2000 years was the one recorded as Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. There is no misunderstanding of what heaven, hell and the spirit world are all about. Those who are seeking for multiple trips through mortality will be disappointed to learn how clearly their destiny has been arranged with only one death, one trip through the spirit world, and one resurrection. The various degrees of heaven are created for individual natures and characters, as John A. Widtsoe plainly described:

In the final judgment, all the earth children of the Lord will be assigned places in one or the other of the three grand divisions or degrees of salvation, known to us from modern revelation as the three glories. Each assignment will depend upon the use the candidate has made of the opportunities placed before him on earth and elsewhere. “For they shall be judged according to their works” (D & C 76:111). By his own acts each person has shown his fitness to participate in the activities of this or that glory. It would be useless to place him higher than his capabilities would permit, and unfair to place him lower. If placed too high, he would not be competent or happy there, nor could he be content if placed too low. The degree of salvation of necessity corresponds, under the merciful justice of the Lord, with the demonstrated worthiness, capacity, and capability of each individual. The final judgment is individual. (Evid. & Recon. Widtsoe, p. 204)

And Brigham Young also explained:

There are myriads of people pertaining to this earth who will come up and receive a glory according to their capacity.

A man apostatizes and comes back, and there is a place prepared for him; and so there is for all persons, to suit their several capacities and answer to the lives they have lived in the flesh. (JD 6:347)


[128]  And further:

All occupy their own place, fulfil their own sphere and glorify God. And as there are different glories that the children of men will inherit in the eternal world according to their faithfulness, diligence and capacity, in keeping the commandments of God while here; each one will be enabled to find his own element, and participate in that kind of glory which is the most congenial to his nature and suited to his capacity, according to the testimony of the prophet. (Times & Seasons 5:408)

During the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith, there were many examples of Saints who had lived worthy enough in their one mortal life to receive a glorious resurrection. Four of these are briefly mentioned here:


(1)             The Elders on Zion’s March

The Prophet called on many of the Elders to join in the march to Zion (Missouri) to help their brethren, and they all knew there was a possibility that their own lives would be taken by the mobs. There were many problems among the brethren along the way, and toward the end of the march, some of the Elders were stricken and even died with cholera. They were martyrs of a sort to the cause of the Gospel, and later Joseph commented on their final reward:

. . . he <Joseph Smith> proceeded to relate a vision to these brethren, of the state and condition of those men who died in Zion’s Camp, in Missouri. He said, “Brethren, I have seen those men who died of the cholera in our camp; and the Lord knows, if I get a mansion as bright as theirs, I ask no more.” At this relation he wept, and for some time could not speak. (DHC 2:181)


[129]  If those men received a mansion so great that the Prophet himself wanted nothing greater, then there must be no need for them to return to earth to gain a better reward.


(2)             David Patten, etc.

In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord mentioned the Apostle David Patten who had been killed in a battle with the mob:

. . . my servant David Patten, who is with me at this time, and also my servant Edward Partridge, and also my aged servant Joseph Smith, Sen., who sitteth with Abraham at his right hand. . . . (D & C 124:19)

This would indicate that these brethren had received a great reward, and were all together-not rotating around on the earth again and again in some other bodies.


(3)             Patriarch James Adams

The Prophet Joseph, speaking at the funeral of James Adams, said:

Patriarch Adams is now one of the spirits of the just men made perfect; * * * He has had revelations concerning his departure, and has gone to a more important work. When men are prepared, they are better off to go hence. Brother Adams has gone to open up a more effectual door for the dead. The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. (TPJS, pp. 325, 326)


[130]  In closer analysis of these remarks, it is clear that they certainly do not support the idea of reincarnation: (a) Men can go to a more important work than staying in or returning to mortality; (b) Men like Judge Adams can be prepared in one lifetime; (c) Men are “better off” to go into the world of spirits instead of staying or returning into mortality; and (d) exalted refers here to a higher level than mortality.


(4)             Two Young Men in Nauvoo

Two boys, Dennison Harris and Robert Scott, were invited to a meeting in Nauvoo during the early spring of 1844. It was a secret meeting of apostates who were plotting to kill the Prophet Joseph Smith. After attending, they felt they should inform the Prophet about what was going on. Joseph thought for a moment and then asked the two young men if they would attend the next scheduled meeting and report back, which they said they would do. Joseph advised them, however, to “make no covenants, nor enter into any obligations whatever with them.” He then added-

Boys, this will be their last meeting; and they may shed your blood, but I hardly think they will as you are so young. If they do, I will be a lion in their path! Don’t flinch. If you have to die, die like men; you will be martyrs to the cause, and your crowns can be no greater!  (Contributor 5:253)

And yet these two young boys had never been on a mission, never married, nor had a family. This gives one reason to believe that we can make sacrifices in this life sufficient to have the opportunity to receive crowns that “can be no greater.” And it would be unnecessary to come back for repeated births to gain those mortal [131] experiences, as the opportunity would apparently be provided during the Millennium.

St. Thomas Aquinas, who was one of the most influential scholars of medieval times, was asked how so many different people could all share in the glory of heaven. He answered that people are like different sized cups. When they achieve heaven, they will receive as much as they can contain. Each cup will be brimful, so that even the smallest cup is as full as it can be, and each will be as happy as he can be. If men all have different sized stomachs, and they all eat until they are full, one is just as fully fed as the others.


The Baby Resurrection Theory

The idea of the so-called baby resurrection theory was started in the Church in the 1840’s, with Apostle Orson Hyde as one of its main proponents. Brigham Young described this theory:

We have another one in the Quorum of the Twelve who believes that infants actually have the spirits of some who have formerly lived on the earth, and that this is their resurrection, which is a doctrine so absurd and foolish that I cannot find language to express my sentiments in relation to it. (JD 12:66)

Brigham again expressed his negative reaction to this theory:

Not more than a week since, I was told the baby resurrection doctrine was spreading among the people. It is something I do not understand. Some say the spirit of Joseph Smith is in the bodies of their children and some have the spirit of Hyrum, and I do not know but some would go so far as to say that the spirit of old Mother Smith had actually come into the body of some child before she was dead. The returning again of the spirits of the dead into the [132] bodies of our babies is the theory of the Baby Resurrection. (The Tchgs. of B.Y., Vol. 3, p. 247)

The following references show that this theory received no support among most of the Church leaders:

Sun., Nov. 21, 1847.  I met at the stand some of the Twelve and the congregation. O. Pratt addressed the congregation upon the subject of the resurrection which was interesting to us all. Some had been teaching the doctrine that the resurrection was by birth or through the womb, but Br. Pratt showed the folly of such a doctrine. (W. Woodruff Jrnls.)

I, myself, sat for over two hours once in a meeting-house, in St. Louis, listening to a prominent Elder of this Church, who called the people together to preach to them the doctrine of the, what was called, “baby resurrection”. He preached to two or three thousand people, and there was not a word of truth in the doctrine. I thought he ought to know better. In the afternoon I was called upon to speak. After meeting, there were a great many people gathered round me and asked what I thought of the man’s sermon. I replied, it is all nonsense. Well, that is just how I felt. It is no benefit in this world for men to preach such false doctrine. (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses, ed. Brian Stuy, Vol. 2, Apr. 6, 1890)

I have had to contend against what is called the “baby resurrection” doctrine, which, as has been taught and indulged by some, is one of the most absurd doctrines that can be thought of. Having had these foolish doctrines to combat, I am not willing that the idea should possess your minds that the body is neither here nor there, and that the work of salvation is entirely spiritual. We have received these bodies for an exaltation, to be crowned with those who have been crowned with crowns of glory and eternal life. (Brigham Young, JD 9:287)


[133]  There are a great many churches that do not believe in ordinances at all, and there are some called Christians who do not believe in the blood of the Savior, and that he, himself, was nothing more nor less than a good man. If they believe in the baby resurrection, or that a person who had committed adultery would have his blood shed in the resurrection, it would be just as consistent as to believe what they do believe. These ideas are all wrong. (Brigham Young, JD 12:69-70)

You have not the power to baptize yourselves, neither have you power to resurrect yourselves; and you could not legally baptize a second person for the remission of sins until some person first baptized you and ordained you to this authority. So with those that hold the keys of the resurrection to resurrect the Saints. Joseph will come up in his turn, receive his body again, and continue his mission in the eternal worlds until he carries it out to perfection, with all the rest of the faithful, to be made perfect with those who have lived before, and those who shall live after; and when the work is finished, and it is offered to the Father, then they will be crowned and receive keys and powers by which they will be capable of organizing worlds. What will they organize first? Were I to tell you, I should certainly spoil all the baby resurrection that Elder Hyde and the others ever preached, as sure as the world. (Brigham Young, JD 6:275)

Along with the baby resurrection, some believe that we must pass through many bodies before we receive a place in heaven. Wilford Woodruff told about an occasion when Brigham Young gave a sermon correcting previous remarks by one of the brethren:


Feb. 19, 1854, Sunday.  E. D. Woolley was called upon to preach a funeral sermon or rather upon the resurrection of the dead as some of the saints had advanced some erroneous ideas concerning the resurrection. Brother Woolley had some incorrect ideas. When he closed President Young followed and made many good remarks. He said that we should have [134] the same bonafide identical body that our spirit occupied while in this life. Our graves would literally be opened and our bodies come forth. (W. Woodruff Jrnls)

The immortal restoration of our present body is the literal meaning of the resurrection. It does not mean that we are born again into mortality as a baby and will go through another lifetime here.

A few scriptural passages refer to “risen again” (Matt. 17:9, Acts 17:3, Rom. 8:34, D & C 18:12, Mormon 7:5), and some individuals interpret that to mean there must be two or more mortal deaths in order to “rise again.” In Matthew 17:9, after Christ, Peter, James and John had come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus instructs them to “tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” However, Mark 9:9 refers to the same comment without using the word again: “. . . they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.” Both accounts were undoubtedly referring to the future resurrection of the Savior when He would come to life again, as the Apostle Paul explained:

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Heb. 11:35)

The word again refers to life, for in the resurrection all will rise or come to life again. It is also interesting that Paul related how some people were willing to be tortured in this mortal life in order to receive a “better resurrection”-he didn’t say to receive a “better mortality”. These individuals must not have expected another turn in mortality in order to obtain this better condition.


[135]  We close this chapter with Brigham Young’s description of a glorious resurrection:

If the body honors the spirit, it will by its influence sanctify the body and prepare it for glory in the Celestial World. When the two work unitedly together, the body yields obedience to the influence of the spirit, which the spirit purifies. In this way the body and the spirit, both forming one being, are prepared for a glorious resurrection, to be perfected in one, in spheres of endless blessedness. (Tchgs. of B.Y., vol. 3, p. 256)



[136]                             Chapter 16

                               THE SECOND DEATH

These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power. (D & C 76:36-37)

When the Prophet Jeremiah lamented over the house of Israel for their wickedness, the Lord told him to go to the “potter’s house and there I will cause thee to hear my words.” (Jer. 18:2) Jeremiah obeyed the Lord and observed the potter at work:

And the vessel that he (the potter) made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O House of Israel. (Jer. 18:4-6)

This passage has been used by reincarnationists to support their belief. But let’s take a closer look at what these verses (4 to 6) really mean by continuing to read in Jeremiah 18. The following five verses (7 to 11) explain what the Lord was trying to teach Jeremiah. If a nation (represented by the clay) was evil (the marred vessel), but turned from their evil ways (forming the new and better vessel), then the Lord “will [137] repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” (Jer. 18:8) And the Lord told Jeremiah to “speak to the men of Judah,” saying, “Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you and return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” (v. 11) Here the parallel becomes clear-changing the Israelites from bad to good is the same as changing the vessel from a defective one to a better one.

It should be kept in mind that this potter/clay analogy was given as an important lesson that the Lord was trying to teach Jeremiah regarding the inhabitants of Jerusalem: that the Lord could destroy them and their city if they continued in their wickedness, just like the potter could destroy the “marred vessel”, but that He did have the power to change and mold them into something better, as the potter did with the clay in making another more pleasing vessel.


Heber C. Kimball, himself a potter for over ten years, often used the familiar phrase in preaching the Gospel, and advises that we should become, in the hands of the Lord, as clay in the hands of the potter, i.e., become malleable, passive, and obedient. An example of this is Apostle Kimball’s conference address on October 9, 1852, wherein he instructed the saints to “temper ourselves according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (JD 1:160) He refers to the above passage in Jeremiah and sheds further light upon it:

. . . supposing I have a lump of clay which I put upon my wheel, out of which clay I want to make a jug; I have to turn it into as many as 50 or 100 shapes before I get it into a jug. How may shapes do you suppose you are put into before you become Saints or before you become perfect and sanctified to enter into the celestial glory of God? You have got to be like that clay in the hands of the potter. Do you not know that the Lord directed the Prophet anciently, to go [138] down to the potter’s house to see a miracle on the wheel? Suppose the potter takes a lump of clay, and putting it on the wheel, goes to work to form it into a vessel, and works it out this way, and that way, and the other way, but the clay is refractory and snappish; he still tries it, but it will break, and snap, and snarl, and thus the potter will work it and work it until he is satisfied he cannot bring it into the shape he wants, and it mars upon the wheel; he takes his tool, then, and cuts it off the wheel, and throws it into the mill to be ground over again, until it becomes passive, (don’t you think you will go to hell if you are not passive?) and after it is ground there so many days, and it becomes passive, he takes the same lump, and makes of it a vessel unto honor. Now do you see into that, brethren? I know the potters can. I tell you, brethren, if you are not passive, you will have to go into that mill, and perhaps have to grind there one thousand years, and then the gospel will be offered to you again, and then if you will not accept of it, and become passive, you will have to go into the mill again, and thus you will have offers of salvation from time to time, until all the human family, except the sons of perdition, are redeemed. The spirits of men will have the gospel as we do, and they are to be judged according to men in the flesh. Let us be passive, and take a course that will be perfectly submissive. * * *

If Brother Brigham tells me to do a thing, it is the same as though the Lord told me to do it. This is the course for you and every other Saint to take. . . . (JD 1:161)

If we do not learn to be passive and obedient in this life, we will remain in the Spirit Prison until we repent-except for the sons of Perdition. They will be thrown back “into the mill to be ground over again,” and thus return to native element. Heber referred to this class of people and their “second death” when he said the following in 1857:

My tabernacle that is now standing before you, that you see with your eyes, I expect will decay, just like an old house. When it is done with, it decays, and turns back to the mother [139] earth, from whence it was taken; and it is so with my body; it is so with yours; but it is not so with my spirit, if I live my religion.

If I do not live my religion but turn away from the principles of light and life, my spirit will die. You have heard me speak of that a great many times, and so you have Brother Brigham. There are thousands upon thousands whose bodies will die by the power of the second death; and then they never will return again. Many call that annihilation.

It is just the same with that as it is with this pitcher: It was made in England; it was once in its mother element, and it was taken out of the earth, and went through a certain process. It was then modeled and fashioned into the shape in which you now see it.

Now, will the day come when this pitcher will return to its mother earth? It will; and it may be thrown into some part of the earth where it may be thousands and millions of years before that pitcher or the elements of which it is composed will be brought back again; and so it will be with thousands and millions of the people: they never will be brought back into the shape they were in once.

Some men inquire, “Why?” Simply because they have dishonoured the spirit and bodies that God gave them; therefore God will make a desolation of those bodies and spirits, and he will throw them back into the earth; that is, that portion that belongs to the earth will go back there. And so it will be with our spirits: they will go back into the elements or space that they once occupied before they came here.

Now, you may believe what you have a mind to about it; it is just as easy to conceive of a dissolution as to conceive of anything else. Chemists take elements and dissolve them and separate them, and can it not be done with our bodies? I answer yes, and with our spirits, too, just as easy as a chemist can take a five-dollar piece and dissolve it into an element that is like water. Can that be restored again? It can; it can be dissolved, and it can be brought back again, and [140] upon the same principle can our bodies be dissolved and restored again. (JD 5:271-272)

Here Brother Heber refers to a first death (the disintegration of the body when it is cremated, buried, etc.) and the second death (the disintegration of the spirit). Brigham Young also refers to this second death:

The rebellious will be thrown back into their native element, there to remain myriads of years before their dust will again be revived, before they will be re-organized. Some might argue that this principle would lead to the re-organization of Satan, and all the devils. I say nothing about this, only what the Lord says-that when he comes, “he will destroy death, and him that has the power of it.” It cannot be annihilated; you cannot annihilate matter. (JD 1:118)


The story of the potter and clay can refer to the principle of remolding one’s character or to refashioning the body and the spirit, the latter being termed as the second death. Some will be converted and remolded in their character and beliefs in this life or in the spirit world; but those who are not, must be remolded in body and spirit similar to aluminum cans that are melted together and then reused as more cans or some other articles.

The following three quotes from Joseph. F. Smith, Brigham Young and Erastus Snow further describe the difference between the first and second deaths:

While the sons of perdition, men who had once been in possession of the light and truth, but who turned away from it and deny the Lord, putting him to an open shame, as did the Jews when they crucified him and said, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children; men who consent, against light and knowledge, to the shedding of innocent blood, it will be said unto them, “Depart ye cursed, I never knew you; depart into [141] the second death, even banishment from the presence of God, for ever and ever, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, from whence there is no redemption, neither in time nor in eternity.” Herein is the difference between the second and the first death, herein man became spiritually dead; for from the first death he may be redeemed by the blood of Christ through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, but from the second there is no redemption at all. (Joseph F. Smith, JD 21:12)

There is no plan, no device, no possible way in which we can get rid of “Mormonism,” only by taking the downward road which leads to hell, until spiritually and temporally the whole organized being is dissolved and the particles thereof have returned again to native elements. We read in the Scriptures of the second death not having power over certain ones. The first death is the separation of the spirit from the body; the second death is, as I have stated, the dissolution of the organized particles which compose the spirit, and their return to their native element. (Brigham Young, JD 9:149)

The spiritual death is that which shall be passed upon the wicked when he shall say unto them, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” ***

I understand that second death is a spiritual death. Is it meant that the spirit shall die? Each of you can draw your own conclusions as well as I. Your traditions may be such that your thoughts do not run in the same channel with mine in this respect. But I can conceive of no other spiritual death than dissolution. I understand, when applied to the mortal tabernacle, it alludes to the dissolution of that tabernacle: it ceases to act in its functions, being dissolved, to return to its native element.

I conceive that the same term is applicable to the spirit in like manner. Whether it be a dissolution, or whether it be an eternal preservation of that spirit in a state of torment and misery, which I do not admit, one thing is certain-that the [142] hope of redemption and eternal life is past for ever from those who are the subjects of the second death.

I understand this to be a curse upon those who give themselves up altogether to work wickedness and abominations, who have sinned so far that they have no longer any part in life: they have sinned that sin which is unto death, for which there is no redemption or forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come. * * *

The Saviour says-“Fear not him that is able to destroy the body only, but rather fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” “Hell” may be an analogous term and applicable in different places to different things; but in this passage it is evident he implies the destruction of the soul as well as the body.

These reflections of mine I do not teach as doctrine, binding your consciences, but as views which I have of the sacred Scriptures, referring to the second death.

One thing is taught clearly in all the revelations, ancient and modern, that there is a class on whom the second death shall pass; and the thought of their returning to their native element is the thought which all intelligent beings shrink from. The instinct within us is to cleave to life-to cleave to our organization; and the greatest joy we feel is in the certain hope of a resurrection from the dead. The idea of the second death, or dissolution of the spirit, is that which is the most terrifying to the soul. But our Father has so ordained that our spiritual organizations, as well as our tabernacles, can only be maintained and perfected through obedience to the laws of eternal life. (Erastus Snow, JD 7:358-359)

Some men willfully commit sin until they are completely in the power of evil spirits. They become more and more wicked with each new evil they perpetuate until they are totally in the hands of Satan. Such become candidates for a second death. This is one of the saddest commentaries on the salvation of men. Brigham Young spoke of those who seek after things that are-


[143]  . . . calculated to destroy them spiritually and temporally-to bring upon them the first death, and then the second, so that they will be as though they had not been-is enough to make the heavens weep. (JD 6:347)

And again he said:

What is that we call death, compared to the agonies of the second death? If people could see it, as Joseph and Sidney saw it, they would pray that the vision be closed up; for they could not endure the sight. (JD 18:217)

The worst part of the second death is the loss of identity. Brother Brigham explained the final course of those who become so wicked:

Some think that they can prosper by lying a little, breaking the Sabbath, and doing almost everything that they ought not to do. In the end they will learn that they have trod the path that leads to the first and second death, which will have power over them; and the time will come when they will be as though they had not been. (JD 7:205)

Putting clay back into the pot, throwing aluminum cans back into the furnace or dumping a bucket of water into a lake are all examples of a second death because the original identity is lost and those elements cannot be retrieved and restored in their same form. We call this process recycling.

According to these interpretations by Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, it is impossible to support a belief that those who experience a second death will ever be born again into mortality with their original identity.



[144]                             Chapter 17

                                FINAL JUDGMENT

For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared. (D & C 76:111)

The Gospel teaches us of a final judgment when everyone will be awarded the glory and honor they deserve and assigned to the stations they have merited. God’s instructions in our day are “to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come.” (D & C 88:84)

However, most of those supporting the multiple-birth philosophy do not embrace the idea of Judgment Day (“the time of God’s final judgment of all people”), because they feel that everyone will eventually end up in the highest glory with God.

If this were the case, however, why do the scriptures distinctly describe three main kingdoms of glory in which God will finally place most of the people on earth? Why did Christ say that in His Father’s house were many mansions? Why did Paul talk about celestial, terrestrial, and telestial bodies and glories?

We are told that beings may advance in knowledge and power within each of these kingdoms (See “Seven Deadly [145] Heresies” by Ogden Kraut, 1980.), but they can never reach the status of those in the higher kingdoms, for God has revealed:

And they (those in the Telestial Kingdom) shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. (D & C 76:112)

That sounds like a very final arrangement! Joseph Fielding Smith straightened out a misconception that must have been circulating among the Saints in the 1950’s regarding those inheriting these three glories:

The celestial and terrestrial and telestial glories, I have heard compared to the wheels on a train. The second and third may, and will, reach the place where the first was, but the first will have moved on and will still be just the same distance in advance of them. This illustration is not true! The wheels do not run on the same track, and do not go in the same direction. The terrestrial and the telestial are limited in their powers of advancement, worlds without end. (Doc. of Sal., 2:32)

The three degrees of glory are stations of a final judgment. Those inheriting the lower kingdoms are forever prevented from receiving certain blessings worlds without end. The permanency of this condition is emphasized in the following five quotations:

We must learn the ways of God. We must walk in his paths. We must be Saints in very deed, and walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then, by-and-by, where he is we will be also. If we turn our backs upon the truth, we will go down to death; we will be beaten with many stripes, we must suffer the consequence of our guilt, and after we have gone through the depths of suffering and sorrow in the due time of the Lord we may get some kind of salvation and glory, but where God and Christ are we cannot come, worlds without end. (Charles W. Penrose, JD 21:90)


[146]  Without complying with these requirements, you nor I can never go where God and Christ dwell, worlds without end, for these things have been made known to us by ancient and modern prophets. (Wilford Woodruff, JD 19:362)

Those in the terrestrial world have the privilege of beholding Jesus sometimes-they can receive the presence of the Son, but not of the fullness of the Father; but those in the telestial world, still lower, receive only the Holy Ghost, administered to them by messengers ordained and sent forth to minister to them for glory and exaltation, providing they will obey the law that is given unto them, which law will be telestial law. (Orson Pratt, JD 15:323)

In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage); And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (D & C 131:1-4)

Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven; which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity, and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. (D & C 132:16-17)

The status of people after death and resurrection is of a permanent and eternal nature-not one that allows for a continual rotation through many mortal births and deaths.

Reincarnationists have interpreted certain scriptures in unique ways in order to support some of their beliefs, such as: [147] “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matt. 26:52) They say this means that anyone who has killed with a sword, but later dies a natural death, must come back into mortality until he himself is killed with a sword.

And another: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:6) Again they say those who shed someone’s blood and then die a normal death must continue to be born in mortality until they finally have their own blood shed.

Some reincarnationists believe that Karma is an equal recompense for all deeds done in the body. That means that justice is absolute, and that all evil deeds must be repaid by suffering the same evil we inflict upon others. If a man kills two people-one by the sword and another by shooting-then he must experience and suffer both types of death, the same as they did. If a man kills many people by dropping a bomb on a city, he must go through ten thousand deaths. And if a man kills an animal, he must become an animal and suffer the same experience.

But certainly a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can see the fallacy of this arrangement. Justice may require a punishment equal to the crime, but not necessarily identical to it.



[148]                             Chapter 18

                               POINTS TO PONDER

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)

As the reality of the theory of reincarnation is considered, many questions should be answered and discrepancies resolved. This chapter will discuss the following ten “points to ponder” about reincarnation:


  1. Is it compatible with our understanding of the true nature and character of God?
  2. Does it change our understanding of the character of Christ and the purpose of His atonement?
  3. Does it lead people away from Christ?
  4. Are multiple lives really necessary in order to gain sufficient experience?
  5. By coming back into mortality many times, don@t we lose our original identity?
  6. Does it detract from the real purpose and importance of ordinance work?
  7. Does it change or nullify eternal marriage covenants?
  8. Does it contradict correct doctrine?
  9. Is it compatible with the doctrine of resurrection?
  10. Does it diminish one’s zeal to obtain his calling and election?



  1. Is it compatible with our understanding of the true nature and character of God?
  2. It is generally agreed that God is a kind, loving and benevolent God. Why, then, should He send His children back down into hundreds or thousands of mortalities to go through similar sorrows, suffering and sin? Certainly that would be “cruel and unusual punishment”!
  3. It denies the family of God since rebirths on this or other worlds would destroy the continuity of the family structure. The Gospel teaches that we are all the children of God. Eventually through our efforts and the atonement of Christ, we shall return as distinct individuals to our Father in Heaven and resume our place in the immortal and eternal family.


  1. Does it change our understanding of the character of Christ and the purpose of His atonement?
  2. Those who believe that man can go through a repeated life cycle, don’t seem to take into account the purpose of Christ’s atonement for us. Man does not need to come back into mortality to correct and pay for his mistakes. Christ has done that for us.
  3. There are no other correct paths other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2 Nephi 9:41)


[150]  c. Many reincarnationists deny this message as reiterated in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved; . . .” (D & C 18:23)

  1. Together with a belief in reincarnation, comes the necessity of accepting many other gods, masters and saints of the reincarnationists. Jesus Christ and His teachings are only a small philosophical part of their central teachings.
  2. As Spencer Palmer stated in a recent Ensign article:

For a person who believes in reincarnation, Christ would be but one manifestation of a temporarily embodied savior-one of many possible reincarnations.

To accept this premise would be to repudiate the most fundamental teaching of the gospel- * * *

Though reincarnation is an interesting theory that may have a few similarities with the gospel, it denies the absolute centrality of the Atonement and must be rejected as false.  (“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Aug. 1989, pp. 53, 54)


  1. Does it lead people away from Christ?
  2. In the Visnu-dharma it is said, “This word Krsna is so auspicious that anyone who chants this holy name immediately gets rid of the resultant actions of sinful activities from many, many births.” (Coming Home, op. cit., p. 123) This is just one of many examples that could be cited of a doctrine leading people away from the name of Jesus Christ, baptism and salvation.
  3. Another example is-


[151]  We declare Gautama the Buddha to be the Lord of the world, and we accept the ones anointed by the hierarchy to be the messengers of the Great White Brotherhood as his representatives on earth. (Enc. of Amer. Rel. Creeds, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, p. 747)

  1. And John A Widtsoe confirmed:

Reincarnation, often known as metempsychosis, is an ancient doctrine. It dates from the earliest corruption of truth, from the very dawn of human history, when mankind first departed from the simple principles of the gospel. (Evid. & Recon., 1960 ed., p. 365)


  1. Are multiple lives really necessary in order to gain sufficient experience?
  2. If we are supposed to come back for a series of multiple mortal lives to learn some lessons over again, then why do we forget the mistakes we made before? If we forget a mistake, we will probably make it again, so it’s possible to keep coming back and making the same mistakes over and over again.

For example, when a child has the experience of getting burned by putting his hand on a hot stove, if he is born again, he will have to repeat that learning experience. If we come to mortality to learn by experience, then we should be able to remember prior earthly events and learn from them. But this is not the case.

  1. Why repeatedly come back to mortality when you can learn so much faster in the spirit world than here on earth? It’s the spirit that goes on learning.


[152]  . . . this will be one of the great helps in the eternal world, by which knowledge will be poured out more abundantly upon the mind of man; it will be by this aid; by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they will progress faster than here, they will learn more rapidly; the intellectual powers will be more expanded. * * * mankind would be able, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to obtain a knowledge of a vast number of things at once. . . . (Orson Pratt, JD 3:101-102)

  1. In the most liberal view of reincarnation, it is possible that even the devils can become Gods, and Gods can become devils. There appears to be no sin too great to prevent spirits from gradually climbing back up the chain to exaltation; neither are the Gods protected enough that they cannot fall all the way to the bottom and become devils that must start all over again.
  2. Reincarnation teaches a doctrine of repetitious mediocrity over and over again. The Gospel teaches eternal progression, without the repeated suffering of mortality. One plan provides the hope for a release of suffering; the other teaches the long continuance of sufferings and deaths.
  3. The scriptures instruct us to-

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt. 7:13-14)

In this passage, life refers to exaltation, as defined in D & C 132:22: “For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it. . . .” Here lives refers to the [153] “few” that find the narrow gate. And in the next passage, lives refers to those who know God and Christ: “This is eternal lives-to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.” (D & C 132:24)

The word deaths in the next verse refers to the many that go in the wide gate: “Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.” (D & C 132:25)

If we are all to be reincarnated until finally achieving exaltation, then the narrow gate would have to be widened to let everyone through-and the whole purpose of the narrow gate would be defeated.

  1. Alma in the Book of Mormon explained very clearly that we have only one mortal life to perform our labors for salvation:

Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. (Alma 34:31-33)


[154]  And again from Alma-

And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead. (Alma 12:24)

Alma makes it very clear that one life is sufficient to obtain the mortal experience required for exaltation and “to prepare to meet God.”



  1. By coming back into mortality many times, don’t we lose our original identity?
  2. According to Joseph F. Smith-

I want to be associated with them <my family> forever. I do not want them to change their identity. I do not want them to be somebody else. This idea of theosophy, which is gaining ground even among so-called Christians, in these latter days, is a fallacy of the deepest kind. It is absolutely repugnant to the very soul of man to think that a civilized, intelligent being might become a dog, a cow, a cat; that he might be transformed into another shape, another kind of being. It is absolutely repulsive and so opposed to the great truth of God, that has been revealed from the beginning, that he is from the beginning always the same, that he cannot change, and that his children cannot change. they may change from worse to better; they may change from evil to good, from unrighteousness to righteousness, from humanity to immortality, from death to life everlasting. They may progress in the manner in which God has progressed; they may grow [155] and advance, but their identity can never be changed, worlds without end-remember that; God has revealed these principles, and I know they are true. (Gospel Doctrine, 3rd ed., 1920, pp. 33-34)

  1. The spirits of those who lived before the time of Christ stayed in the spirit world; they were not reborn on earth. All those who died in the flood remained in the spirit world for over 2,500 years. When Christ was crucified, he went to them and taught the Gospel, and they had the opportunity to repent in the spirit world without having to be reborn on the earth.
  2. Wilford Woodruff commented that “we have the power through these blessings, conferred by the Gospel, to receive our bodies again, <resurrected> and to preserve our identity in eternity.” (JD 9:163)
  3. The many recorded appearances of resurrected beings shows that they came in their original identity, i.e.:
  4. When Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to many and they             immediately recognized Him.
  5.            Moses and Elijah came back as Moses and Elijah.
  6.            John the Baptist and Peter, James and John appeared to Joseph Smith             in their original identities.
  7.            When Joseph Smith appeared to John Taylor in 1886 in Centerville,             and in the meeting the following day, he, as a resurrected person,             shook hands with those in attendance. He came back as Joseph Smith,             not as Caesar, or Socrates, or some ancient apostle.
  8. A popular reason why many people believe in reincarnation is because it gives them a chance to claim the [156] identity of someone greater than themselves. Their ego is improved by saying they are Napoleon, an ancient prophet, or even Joseph Smith. Inwardly they are insecure with themselves and this bolsters their self-esteem.
  9. The basic principle behind each rebirth is to continually develop and advance in knowledge, understanding and experience with each new mortality. In other words, Father Abraham would not come back as a big city banker; Moses would not come back as a basketball star; the Apostle Paul would not come back as a salesman for ladies wear. Men who have lived worthy lives do not come back to a lesser status. Why would Joseph Smith, Jesus or Adam come back to be one per cent of what they were before? Which leads to the question: If everyone is supposedly advancing and getting better, why is this the most wicked time on this earth instead of the best?


  1. Does it detract from the real purpose and importance of ordinance work?
  2. If we must come back into mortality to finally secure our salvation and exaltation, then it would not be necessary to do any ordinance work for the dead because they will be able to do it for themselves.
  3. Joseph Smith said that, “It is not only necessary that you should be baptized for your dead, but you will have to go through all the ordinances for them, the same as you have gone through to save yourselves.” (TPJS, p. 366)
  4. If reincarnation is true, then all the work to be done in the Millennium will be unnecessary:


[157]  . . . throughout the millennium, temples will be built, and the servants and handmaidens of God will go into these temples and officiate, until all who have been born upon the face of the earth, who have not become sons of perdition, will be redeemed, and the entire family be re-united, Adam standing at the head. (George Q. Cannon, JD 26:247)

  1. Those who believe in reincarnation do not believe what Joseph Smith said about seeking after our dead:

The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The Apostle <Paul> says, “They without us cannot be made perfect;” (Heb. 11:40) for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times. . . . (TPJS, p. 356)



  1. Brigham Young also spoke on the importance of ordinance work:

Now a few words to the brethren and sisters upon the doctrine and ordinances of the house of God. All who have lived on the earth according to the best light they had, and would have received the fulness of the Gospel had it been preached to them, are worthy of a glorious resurrection, and will attain to this by being administered for in the flesh by those who have the authority. (JD 15:136-137)

When I get a revelation that some of my progenitors lived and died without the blessings of the Gospel, or even hearing it preached, but were as honest as I am, as upright as I am, or as any man or woman could be upon the earth; as righteous, so far as they knew how, as any Apostle or Prophet that ever lived, I will go and be baptized, confirmed, washed, and anointed, and go through all the ordinances and endowments for them, that their way may be open to the celestial kingdom.

[158]  As I have frequently told you, that is the work of the Millennium. It is the work that has to be performed by the seed of Abraham, the chosen seed, the royal seed, the blessed of the Lord, those the Lord made covenants with. They will step forth, and save every son and daughter of Adam who will receive salvation here on the earth; and all spirits in the spirit world will be preached to, conversed with, and the principles of salvation carried to them, that they may have the privilege of receiving the gospel; and they will have plenty of children here on the earth to officiate for them in those ordinances of the gospel that pertain to the flesh. (JD 2:138)

  1. If we are baptized during each mortality, does that baptism apply to that world or all worlds? If the first baptism is valid for the spirit involved, then all others in subsequent mortalities of that spirit would be unnecessary. And if that first baptism is valid, then why would it be necessary to be born again into mortality? But this does not seem to be considered by transmigrationists-only experience counts.
  2. Having already discussed the loss of original identity through reincarnation, this complicates the work for those doing genealogy and temple work for their dead ancestors. For example, suppose a spirit is first Abraham, then comes back as Moses, then later as Paul or Martin Luther-which person would the temple ordinance work apply to? It could even be possible that you were doing your own ordinance work, and it had already been done several years before by your prior self.


  1. Does it change or nullify eternal marriage covenants?
  2. Why enter into eternal marriage covenants if we are just going to be born again on another part of the world at another time and be married “eternally” to someone else and [159] never see our original spouse again? It seems that eternal marriages are worthless under the doctrine of reincarnation.
  3. How can a man be married to a woman that already belongs to some other man? How many subsequent marriages are recognized after two people have agreed to be married for eternity? Why make a covenant at all?
  4. How do you recognize your eternal companion if you keep forgetting any prior covenants each time you are reborn?


  1. Does it contradict correct doctrine?
  2. Reincarnationists say that all will be saved; the Gospel teaches that they cannot and will not.

The contention in heaven <pre-existence> was-Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 357)

  1. Some reincarnationists believe that they may come back as a bug or an animal, but is it really possible for a bug or animal to live a better life so they can come back as a bigger or more intelligent bug or animal? If a person comes back as a flower, what can a flower do to improve its life for a better reincarnation? What can it learn in another mortality?
  2. If reincarnation were true, there would be no increase in the world’s population; in fact, the numbers would gradually decrease because some would gradually go on to Nirvana, heaven, or exaltation.
  3. The principles of reincarnation seem to take a person round and round; obeying the principles of the Gospel take a person onward and upward:


[160]  This <reincarnation> is in clearest opposition to the doctrine of progression, which lies fundamentally in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The objective of life is to move toward the likeness of God. Man rises continually. Once on earth, he experiences earth life, with its joys and sorrows; then bids it farewell, to enter into another life where he continues with added power in the advancing program of existence. He outgrows the past throughout eternal existence. Reincarnation moves in a circle; the gospel in an ascending spiral. Existence without a definite objective, but with constant repetitions, is valueless. (Evid. & Reco., Widtsoe, p. 369)

  1. Those believing in multiple births say they must come back in order to gain experiences, but the Prophet Joseph said:

All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts. And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. (DHC 2:380-381)  (He didn’t say they must return!)

  1. The scriptures continually point to the blessings for the faithful and condemnation and damnation for the wicked. Why are all the promises made only to the faithful and not to the wicked if everyone was to finally gain eternal life? It seems only reasonable that the scriptures would have said, “Be faithful this time or you will come back until you are faithful.”
  2. Reincarnationists teach that the better we lived in a previous life, the better it will be for us in this life. However, [161] this is contrary to correct doctrine. The most noble spirits become prophets, seers and revelators in mortality, but their lives are often the most miserable. As Joseph Smith said, the world “killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves `in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,’ and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society a vagabonds. . . .” (TPJS, p. 206) On the other hand, we frequently see the wicked, corrupt and most evil men in palaces, as leaders of governments, and in the richest and most powerful positions. If the reincarnationist’s premise is true, then Christ should have been the most wealthy and honored and notable person on earth; but instead He suffered more than anyone else!


  1. Is it compatible with the doctrine of resurrection?
  2. Reincarnationists believe that all will eventually make the topmost grade of heaven; but Joseph Smith said:

Gods have an ascendancy over the angels, who are ministering servants. In the resurrection, some are raised to be angels, others are raised to become Gods. (TPJS, p. 312)

  1. Heber C. Kimball explained that in the spirit world we prepare ourselves for the resurrection, not to come back into mortality:

He <H.C.K.> further said if one of the present company were to die and their spirit returns to visit us, we would think it a very pure and holy spirit; but it would be no more so than it was when living. He then told me <Mary Ellen Kimball> to go in the next room, which I did. He asked if I felt different in that room from what I did in this, and I replied I did not. Then [162] says he, what difference will there be in the spirit world? None whatever, only you will there be preparing yourself to receive your resurrected body. <not another mortal body> (Mary Ellen Kimball’s Journal, Sept. 6, 1857)

  1. Repeating a quote from John A. Widtsoe:

Finally, reincarnation is incompatible with the resurrection of the body, through the redeeming service of Jesus Christ. The continuous changing of bodies makes the resurrection and any redeeming act, unnecessary. It places the Christ in the class of fakers. A Christian cannot believe in reincarnation. (Evid. & Recon., Widtsoe, p. 370)

  1. Believers in reincarnation generally espouse the renunciation of all things, while believers in the Gospel of Christ promote the possibility of an inheritance of all things. The reincarnationist seeks to obtain countless new bodies, while the Gospel believer labors to resurrect and celestialize only one.


  1. Does it diminish one’s zeal to obtain his calling and election?
  2. Most people who believe in reincarnation think they don@t have to worry as much about their calling and election in this life because they will just keep coming back until they finally achieve it. But if they think they can postpone such an important blessing, they may lose the opportunity altogether.
  3. The advice of the Prophet Joseph was:

Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc. (TPJS, p. 299)



[163]  There will be 144,000 saviors on Mount Zion, and with them an innumerable host that no man can number. Oh! I beseech you to go forward, go forward and make your calling and your election sure; and if any man preach any other gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; . . . . (TPJS, p. 366)

* * *

Many other points could be listed under each of these ten sections, and other sections could be added as well; but hopefully this representative sampling will raise enough questions about the validity of reincarnation that additional information would be unnecessary.



[164]                             Chapter 19

                          MORMONISM vs REINCARNATION

Now, I do not think there are any misgivings in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints this morning in regard to what President Woodruff has said to us concerning the doctrine which he has taken occasion to puncture; that is, that the spirit of any man now in this probation had been on the earth in a former age, in another body. That doctrine ought to have laid still a score of years ago. (F. M. Lyman, Collected Discourses, comp. Brian Stuy, 1:266-267)

Each day, if not every hour, the devil is pitting his forces against the followers of Christ just as much as he was in the pre-mortal world. It is by small weaknesses and small errors that great supports can be destroyed:

There is no detente with the devil. He knows that weak individuals make great dominoes. He knows that the collapse of individuals precedes the collapse of systems. (Deposition of a Disciple, Neal Maxwell, p. 17)

The Prophet Joseph noted, “The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.” (TPJS, p. 181) And again, “There are so many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon, it gives him the advantage oftentimes.” (Ibid., p. 331) Thus, every Elder should be as a watchman on the tower lest the enemy slip in unnoticed and overtake him.

[165]  It is amazing that over 1,000 different churches all profess to believe in the same Bible. Mormonism is no different. Hundreds of different interpretations of the restored Gospel have sprung up in only 150 years with more on the way.

Every false doctrine believed in soon leads to another. If a belief in multiple births is an erroneous doctrine, then it can be the means of leading Saints away from the path of truth. Many assumptions and interpretations of scripture and sermons have caused some Latter-day Saints to believe they must be born again on earth as babies. It is interesting to discuss a few, followed by appropriate responses.


“Election and Reprobation”

In their efforts to defend reincarnation, some individuals have used the term “reprobation” to mean re-entering this mortal probation. Brigham Young has been cited as supporting that belief when he said:

Many of you, no doubt, have concluded that the doctrine of election and reprobation is true, and you do so with propriety, for it is true; it is a scriptural doctrine. Others do not believe this doctrine, affirming with all their faith, might, and skill that free grace and freewill are or ought to be the foundation of man’s faith in his Creator. (JD 7:283)

He continues his remarks in talking about the faithful and unfaithful, the righteous and unrighteous, and concludes with a discussion of the curse, or reprobation, placed upon some of mankind:

You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings [166] of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race-that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive the blessings in like proportion. (JD 7:290-291)

Thus, this sermon dealing with the “doctrine of election and reprobation” is about God’s chosen people and cursed people. It said nothing about returning to this earth for another mortality. Keep in mind the 1928 dictionary definitions of reprobation (previously given in Chapter 2) that Brigham Young was undoubtedly referring to at the time he gave the above discourse in 1859:

Reprobation: The act of abandoning or state of being abandoned; a condemnatory sentence; rejection. (An Amer. Dictionary of the English Language, Webster, 2:57)


[167]  Certainly this describes Brigham Young’s feelings of condemnation for the descendants of Cain. In another public discussion of this same subject about 18 years prior, President Young, together with Willard Richards, wrote an article that was printed in an 1841 Millennial Star (vol.5, pp. 217-225), entitled, “Election and Reprobation”. The first sentence asked, “Do you believe in Election and Reprobation?” The article continued for nine full pages defining the elected as those who are chosen for their good works, while the sinners were reprobates. Once again, election and reprobation were terms used to designate a division between the righteous and the wicked. In this article, as well, nothing was said about returning to mortality to be born again.


Joseph Smith’s Identity

Reincarnation advocates take numerous excerpts from sermons and writings, and with private interpretations and assumptions construe them to support the idea of reincarnation. For instance, Joseph once said, “Would to God, brethren, I could tell you who I am!” (Life of Heber C. Kimball, Whitney, p. 333) They decided this was supposed to mean that he had lived many times. But couldn’t it have meant that Joseph Smith felt he should not reveal to the people his true identity, calling, and mission in this life?

Again Joseph said, “I have never had the opportunity to give them (the saints) the plan that God has revealed to me.” (DHC 3:286) They assume that reincarnation was that plan, but in reality he could have been referring to any of a multitude of God’s plans.

Joseph gave all the gospel keys, power and knowledge to others before he died. Brigham stated, “Joseph truly said, `No power can take away my life, until my work is done.'” (Discourses of B.Y., Widtsoe, p. 468) And in another place, “It [168] was also shown that Joseph told the Twelve after he had instructed them in all things that on them would rest the responsibility and care of the church in case he should be taken away.” (“Nauvoo Journal”, BYU Studies, 1979, 19:155)


Brothers and Sisters in the Gospel

Multiple mortality promoters apply the following passage to reincarnation:

I will bless him (Joseph Smith) and multiply him and give unto him a hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds. (D & C 132:55)

The Savior had already given the meaning for such a passage when He said, “And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:34-35)


Indelibly Imprinted by the Holy Ghost

A particular quote by the Prophet’s mother said that Joseph “could describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, etc.” and “this he could do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.” (Biographical Sketches, Lucy Mack Smith, p. 85) According to some, this can be interpreted to mean that he spent a prior life among them.


However, it should be remembered that when the Lord gives visions to his servants and prophets, they are given by [169] the power of the Holy Ghost, which is a power more forceful than the five senses. Everything we say, see and hear is indelibly imprinted on our minds, and the Holy Ghost can easily recall any of it. It will always be that perfect, as Jesus stated: “. . . every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36)


Comparisons to Aaron, Nathanael, and Moses

Another “private” interpretation of a revelation to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery assumes they were reincarnated when it states they were “called and ordained even as Aaron.” (D & C 27:8) That is interpreted to mean that one or the other was actually Aaron-instead of meaning that they were called in the same way Aaron was called. In a revelation about Edward Partridge, it said that “he is like unto Nathanael of old,” (D & C 41:11) which, of course, they interpret to mean that he really was Nathanael. Other passages from D & C 103:15-16 and II Nephi 3:6-7 refer to Joseph Smith as one like Moses, which they suppose to mean that he really was Moses.

Some of these arguments are not worth the time and effort to explain. Being “like” someone does not mean they are actually that person. A son may have many features and beliefs like his father, but he is not really his father!


Resurrected Beings to Again Stand in the Flesh

Another misinterpreted incident is when Parley P. Pratt was returning to Nauvoo after the death of Joseph, and he received a revelation: “On a sudden the Spirit of God came upon me, and filled my heart with joy and gladness * * * and said unto me: My servant Joseph still holds the keys of my kingdom in this dispensation, and he shall stand in due time on the earth in the flesh, and fulfill that to which he [170] is appointed.” (Auto. of P.P. Pratt, p. 333) To some that is supposed to mean that he will be born again in mortality and take over the leadership of the Church once more.

However, this did not mean he would be born again as a baby, as Wilford Woodruff said, “. . . we should have Brothers Joseph and Hyrum and many of the Saints in their resurrected bodies with us on earth. . . .” (W. Woodruff Jrnls. 3:244)


Brigham Young Similar to Solomon

To some, Brigham Young was supposed to be King Solomon because they both built a temple without a hammer. (I Kings 6:7) Furthermore, Solomon had sculptured lions on both sides of his throne and ornamented his house; Brigham also had two lions at the entrance of his home; coincidentally, Brigham was also called the lion of the Lord.


And on and on it goes. The above references and quotations show the extra effort it takes to arrive at conclusions that in any way support reincarnation. If Joseph Smith or Brigham Young had formerly been some other person or prophet on earth, they certainly would have said so, since during their lifetime, this belief in transmigration of the spirit was not a strange doctrine to the people of the world and would not have been very difficult to teach.

* * *


Life and Eternal Lives

Some reincarnationists have pointed to a statement by Wilford Woodruff in support of their belief:


[171]  I said this was my birthday. Yes, I am 42 years old this day. How such figures look to a man while counting up his years in this probation. The very sight of them crowd into the mind a flood of thought even more than tongue can utter or pen can write. The last sixteen years of my life have been spent in endeavouring to preach the gospel and building up the Kingdom of God in connection with my brethren. The past is gone. I have no desire to recall it. I would not wish to live my life over if I could. (W. Woodruff Jrnls., Mar. 2, 1849)

However, Woodruff did not say he was going to live it over again-only if he could.

There are many statements that include the term “eternal lives,” which reincarnationists pick right up on; for example, D & C 132:24: “This is eternal lives-to know the only wise and true God. . . .” and also, “Goodbye, Brother Brigham, until the morning of the resurrection day, when thy spirit and body shall be reunited and thou shalt inherit immortality, eternal lives and everlasting glory. . . .” (CHC 5:516)


This is easily clarified with the definition of “eternal lives” given by Brigham Young:

He <B.Y.> also showed that the subjects of no other kingdom had the privilege of propagating their species but those of the Celestial Kingdom, and they who were counted worthy as was Abraham would have an endless posterity or, in other words, be the father of eternal lives. (W. Woodruff Jrnls., Mar. 2, 1861)


From Exaltation to Exaltation

Another misinterpreted quotation is from the Prophet Joseph when he said that we must keep “going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you [172] attain to the resurrection of the dead. . . .” (DHC 6:306) It is assumed that going from one exaltation to another is evidence of reincarnation.

But, the word exaltation has other meanings than just ultimately becoming a God, such as in a letter to the New York Herald: “Say to the New York Herald, now is the time for your exaltation; raise your standard high. . . . ” (DHC 6:232) Brigham Young also mentioned, “. . . when we have passed into the sphere where Joseph is, there is still another department, and then another, and another, and so on to an eternal progression in exaltation and eternal lives.” (JD 3:375) This indicates that the word simply means an elevated station or level-not another step down into mortality. (See also DHC 6:367, 3:167, 6:207.)

Now going back to the original statement of the Prophet Joseph:

You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead. . . . (DHC 6:306)

If you are going to proceed from exaltation to exaltation “until you attain to the resurrection,” it means that men will go through “exaltations” until they reach the exaltation of Godhood-descending back into mortality would be just the opposite of it.


Our Mortal Probation

Brigham Young once said, “I would rather be purified here than to live ten thousand years to attain the same point in [173] another existence.” (JD 9:37) No one would want to spend that much time in paradise overcoming his failures. And this could not refer to reincarnation as no one lives 10,000 years in one mortal existence, and he did not say “in other existences.”

Orson Pratt makes a similar reference:

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, or 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)

Since he did not use the word probation in the plural, he is probably referring to the Spirit World, which we have mentioned earlier is also a state of probation.


One Life, One Spirit, One Body

It seems very probable that if there were to be a continual series of rebirths into mortality, Brigham Young would have said so. On the contrary, however, many of his sermons state just the opposite; for example:

If you abuse your wives, turn them out of doors, and treat them in a harsh and cruel manner, you will be left wifeless and childless; you will have no increase in eternity. You will have bartered this blessing, this privilege, away; you will have sold your birthright, as Esau did his blessing, and it can never come to you again, never, NO NEVER! (JD 1:119)

This life is now the only life to us; and if we do not appreciate it properly, it is impossible to prepare for a higher and more exalted life. (JD 10:222)


[174]  Wilford Woodruff took the same position:

I have heard that in Zion there are some men who entertain the idea that they inherit the body and spirit of Moses, or Abraham, or David, or Noah, or somebody other than themselves. I hope none of you here indulge in anything of this kind, because it is a most foolish, nonsensical and false doctrine. You gaze upon a man who professes to have inherited the body or spirit of Moses, or any of those I have named and I think you will conclude that his appearance does not indicate that such is the case; at any rate, it certainly has not improved him. Brother Woodruff, Brother Cannon, Brother Smith, Brother Lorenzo Snow, or any of the brethren, will never inherit anyone’s body or spirit but their own, in time or in eternity, unless the devil gets into them. It is Satan who inspires men to believe in such absurd things. * * * I tell you that whoever sees me in time or eternity will see Wilford Woodruff, not Noah, nor Abraham, nor Enoch. Every man has his own identity, and he never will lose that identity. Therefore, when you hear such doctrine as that advanced, do not believe it. (Coll. Disc., op. cit., 1:262)

And also from Abraham Cannon:

We had some talk about reincarnation, which doctrine it is feared is entertained by Orson F. Whitney, George Parkinson, and others. It was felt that these and any other persons who believe in this false idea should be corrected. (Abraham H. Cannon Jrnl., Oct. 25, 1895)


Understanding Heber C. Kimball

There are at least three statements by Heber C. Kimball that reincarnationists think support their beliefs. These will be included here, together with a contrasting view of their interpretation:


[175]  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. (JD 6:67)

Was he saying that those who sin against the Holy Ghost must come back to a mortal existence and pay the debt for sinning in such a manner? (This is contrary to the doctrine of Joseph Smith who said they never would be redeemed.) Or, was saying that the only way they could pay it is to come back if that were possible; but as he said, “all will be finally redeemed, except those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost or shed innocent blood. . . .”

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. (JD 6:63)

By probation, did he mean we are conducted through many worlds and probationary states, or rather from one “trial, test, examination,” as the dictionary defines? And indeed we (meaning mankind in general) are guided and conducted through the various dispensations by each assigned leader.

That course is typical of the probations we take. But suppose that I do not improve my time today, I wake up tomorrow and find myself in the rear; and then, if I do not improve upon that day, and again lay down to sleep, on awaking, I find myself still in the rear. This day’s work is typical of this probation, and the sleep of every night is typical of death, and rising in the morning is typical of the resurrection. They are days’ labours, and it is for us to be faithful today, tomorrow, and every day. (JD 4:328-329)


[176]  Some suppose he is referring to a lifetime as a probation However, he could be saying that every day is a probation; that sleep is symbolic of death and rising in the morning represents the resurrection.


The Pre-Existent Probation

The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

God is good and all his acts (are) for the benefit of inferior intelligences-God saw that those intelligences had not power to defend themselves against those that had a tabernacle; therefore the Lord calls them together in counsel and agrees to form them tabernacles. (Words of Joseph Smith,, Ehat and Cook, p. 68)

Some Mormons conclude that evil spirits in the pre-mortal state had tabernacles and so the good spirits had to come to earth to gain a tabernacle so the evil spirits with tabernacles would not have power over them.

However, it is taught that Pre-Existent evil spirits were cast out of heaven and did not have power over the righteous spirits. Good spirits came to earth to receive a tabernacle, thus enabling them to have even more power over the evil spirits.

As spirits in the Pre-Existence, we developed personalities and characteristics just as we do here in mortality. Our interests and knowledge were developed through free agency and were formed so deeply there that they frequently are manifest here. Apparently we had the same emotions, affections, and even sexual passions in our pre-mortal existence, for Joseph Lee Robinson quoted Joseph Smith as saying:


[177]  We also heard him (Joseph Smith) say that God had revealed unto him that any man who ever committed adultery in either of his probations that that man could never be raised to the highest exaltation in the Celestial Glory and that he felt anxious with regard to himself and he inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph, had never committed adultery. This saying of the prophet astonished me very much. It opened up to me a very wide field of reflection. The idea that we had passed through probations prior to this and that we must have been married and given in marriage in those probations or there would be no propriety in making such an assertion and that there were several exaltations in the Celestial Kingdom of our God. . . we will know the truth of the matter some day. (See “History of Joseph Lee Robinson,” pp. 12, as quoted in The Notes, Openshaw, p. 371)

Reincarnationists believe this is a proof of other mortal existences rather than something in our pre-mortal life, where promises and covenants also existed between men and women.

In Mosiah Hancock’s vision of the Pre-Existence, he saw some being “taught in the arts and sciences”; some of the “females taking the males by the arm”; and some men neglecting the females and classes and then “go off, arm in arm, as men go now,” indicating a possibility of homosexual relationships even then. Regardless, these were conditions of the pre-existent spirit world, not of a mortal probation.

* * *

No one-Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, or Mormon-who has been converted to the idea of reincarnation, is going to be convinced otherwise, against their will. They will continue to select phrases, sentences and excerpts out of context, that seem to support their belief, rather than trying to see the overall picture of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.


[178]  Including more quotations and references in this chapter would not make any difference to them. But perhaps it will be a great surprise when they arrive in the spirit world and discover they don’t have another chance at mortality. Based on their former belief, will they be relieved or disappointed at such news? Hopefully, we will each live this life “to the fullest” just in case!



[179]                             Chapter 20

                           THE CASE OF FATHER ADAM

It should be borne in mind that these wonderful mysteries, as they are supposed to be, are only mysteries because of the ignorance of men; and when men and women are troubled in spirit over those things which come to light through the proper channel of intelligence, they only betray their weakness, ignorance, and folly. (Mill. Star 15:825)

Nearly every religion in the world has broken off from some other religion-some from an originally true church, but most from some other dissenter. Almost all Protestant churches have come from their mother church, the Catholic.

Likewise, doctrines in these churches usually come from perverting or changing true ones. Little deviations and modifications soon become great ones. After the passage of time, they can even become directly opposite to the original teachings.

For the belief of transmigration or reincarnation to be accepted by most people in the world, there must have originally been some basis of truth for it. John A. Widtsoe acknowledged this when he wrote:

Reincarnation, often known as metempsychosis, is an ancient doctrine. It dates from the earliest corruption of truth, from the very dawn of human history, when mankind first [180] departed from the simple principles of the gospel. In some form it has existed at all times in all lands. It is an excellent example of the distortion of beautiful, fundamental truths. (Evid. & Recon., Widtsoe, 1960 ed., p. 362)

Widtsoe acknowledged that this belief started “from the dawn of human history,” and that it “has existed at all times in all lands.” Certainly it has some basis of truth. According to him, “it is an excellent example of the distortion of beautiful, fundamental truths;” but he does not explain what that truth was. We know that it has gone through the Roman Empire, through Greece, all through China, India, and even the dawn of Egypt. We must admit that somewhere in ancient history the concept of reincarnation began in truth.

Spencer Palmer, professor of comparative religions at BYU, also noted this fact, saying, “It may well be a corruption or counterfeit of the plan of salvation.” (Ensign, op. cit., Aug. 1989, p. 53)

If this doctrine even closely resembles the “plan of salvation”, all the more reason for our serious consideration and investigation. From an encyclopedia on the history of religion, it states:

Even the gods, according to the transmigration theory, are involved in the cycle of existence, the samsara, and must again descend to lower forms of life when their time comes round. . . . (Enc. of Rel. & Ethics 12:435)

According to Dr. Hugh Nibley, this doctrine was taught as a part of the program of the Gods:

But the matter dealt with, or what Walter Wili calls “the substance of the Orphic mysteries,” is threefold: (1) the [181] creation and pre-existence, “the genesis of gods, the cosmos, and me,” (2) the fall of man and its necessary retribution, and (3) his ultimate destiny and goal, expressed in the Pythagorean and Orphic traditions in the doctrine of transmigration of souls. These will be readily recognized as the three great eschatological themes of the past, present, and future, as they are so clearly set forth in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. (The Ancient State, Nibley, p. 321)

However, Dr. Nibley went on to explain that the Egyptians did not believe in the same reincarnation, or a repetition of births into mortality, as taught today. And from another Egyptologist comes a similar statement:

During these millennia the dynasties of pharaohs had developed in symbolic terms the evolution of the royal principle (Godhood) in the individual. Of this the pharaoh himself was the prototype. . . . (The Opening of the Way, Isha Lubicz, p. 5)

And still another professor of Egyptology, Dr. S. Morenz, made similar observations about the Egyptians:

The gods are thus individual persons, defined and characterized by their form and name. In this respect they are like human beings. Like men, the gods are created, and, what is more, they are created by a primordial god. (Egyptian Religion, Morenz, p. 24)

He noted other similar statements: “These creatures are either male or female, since they are persons,” (often called Father or Mother) and “are related to man by the act of creation.” (p. 26) “One point needs to be emphasized in conclusion: the cosmic deities are as a rule wholly in human form” (p. 31), and that they go from an “incarnation-and thence to a father-son religionship” (p. 30). Through “an [182] incarnation of the deity, he ceased to be God in the full sense of the word.” (p. 37)

Those who believe that Michael, in his progression as a God, became Adam, the first man on this earth, will see a similarity to what the Egyptologists are saying.

One of the major books on reincarnation, Coming Back, has emphasized that man has an origin with God:

There is a bonafide method for the attainment of spiritual perfection by the spiritual spark of soul, and if he is properly guided, he is very easily sent back home, back to Godhead, from where he originally fell. (op. cit., p. 46)

History clearly points to the doctrine that the Gods participated in a form of rotation from heaven to earth and back again. The descent of Gods into mortality and then returning to their former position, has also come from the oldest known sacred records of India. For example, from the research of the Hare Krisna reincarnationists, comes the following:

The Vedas of India record the most astounding events in the entire history of the world-the descents of God himself into this universe to deliver transcendental knowledge, for the benefit of all human beings. (Incarnations of Godhead, p. 9)

In a personal interview with some of their leading authorities, the author learned the following basis of that belief. God is exalted and perfect, but he can come back into mortality. However, He does not come down as we do into a world of sin, weakness and temptation. He is like a bright gem that comes down into a mud puddle, but the mud does not affect him. With a slight rinse, he is as clean as before. [183] However, we come down and are affected by the dirt and absorb the mud. We must continually try to cleanse ourselves to be clean like He is, but it will take a long time to become like God. God is perfected and we strive to become like him. We respect his high and holy position because we are on such a lower level. But after we become as he is, then we are on a familiar basis with him. We respect the President of the United States and honor him by the name of President, but to his friends surrounding him, they may say “George, or Bill, would you pass the toast.” God is still our God, but we become like Him, act like Him, and are familiar with Him.

From the Jewish Kabbala, a similar theme has emerged. It is recorded that “Adam, too, figures in this plan of the four worlds. In the first world we find him as the upper Heavenly Man, the archetype not only of the forms to follow but of man himself.” (Kabbala, Charles Ponce, pp. 70-71) These four worlds are four different stations or conditions which Adam stepped down through, and they “compose the universal man, the animus mundi. In this theme his brain is located in the first world, his heart in the second world, his breath in the third world, and his genitals in the fourth world.” (Ibid.)

The theosophists who have studied ancient records also confirm that mortals become Gods and will eventually return into mortality.

By far the greatest help to evolvement are the masters. These are spiritual giants, men and women who have progressed far beyond the human race, who no longer need to incarnate, but who do so in order to aid the struggling race. (Enc. of Amer. Rel., p. 130)

Through previous chapters in this book, we have discussed many of the differences between those who believe in reincarnation and those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus [184] Christ. Here is a basic similarity: the doctrine pertaining to the life and incarnation of Adam. Here is the original basis of truth that gave birth to the greatly modified theory of reincarnation as we know it today.

From an overview of the beliefs of many religions and nations supporting reincarnation (many of which extend back to the beginning of time), there is a similarity in their understanding of and respect for the first man on earth. From India, China, Greece and Egypt, we glean many similar and respectful statements concerning that person called Adam. From these statements it appears that Adam (Michael) has been going from earth to earth and mortality to mortality; and further that Adam and Eve are not the only ones who make such journeys from earth to earth. Every good man and woman who reaches Godhood will be going down on other worlds to again become mortal. This sounds like reincarnation or transmigration-but it is not for all mankind, just those who become Gods.

Brigham Young spoke a great deal on this and indicated that all worthy men would have a chance to do the same. Consider what he is saying here:

After men have got their exaltations and their crowns-have become Gods, even the sons of God-are made Kings of kings and Lords of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. How can they do it? Have they to go to that earth? Yes, an Adam will have to go there, and he cannot do without Eve; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation, and they will go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their [185] celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children. (JD 6:275)

When Adam came to this earth, he was returning into mortality. It was not his first time as a mortal, nor would it be his last. He had probably been a mortal man many times and would continue that process for all eternity-on earths that he creates. This is the basic thesis upon which reincarnation is founded, but with one major deviation-Adam was not born again from his mother’s womb. There was to be no rebirth as a baby or going through childhood again. Adam came here with a celestial body which became mortal by charging it with mortal food, even though it was still a celestial body. In other words, it is like changing the contents of a sponge that was once filled with fruit juice and later changed to vegetable juice. His body was filled with celestial fluid before he descended, and then it was charged with mortal blood.

Brigham Young gave many discourses in his lifetime in support of this doctrine, and it is not the intent of this chapter to dwell on the mechanics of it. But by way of a brief explanatory statement-in 1873, the Deseret News reported the following:

Brigham stated that Adam said: “I once dwelt upon an earth something like this in a mortal state; I was faithful; I received my crown and exaltation. I have the privilege of extending my work, and to its increase there shall be no end.” (June 18, 1873, p. 308)

Not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally, such as the Genesis story of how Adam and Eve were created. Furthermore, there are many things which are briefly described that cannot be given in their full meaning. Sometimes a “lesser part” must be recorded because people cannot understand the [186] full and more complete meaning. Some information is not always accurate either, according to our definition of terms. For instance, in the book of Genesis it is written:

And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. (Gen. 5:5)

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. . . . but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died. . . . (Deut. 34:5-7)

However, there is evidence that neither of them actually died, but were translated, not buried:

Do you think God revealed that? I am satisfied He did not. The person who revised these books <of the Bible> added that by way of explanation. How do they know he <Moses> died, or how do they know the Lord buried him? They simply learned that Moses went out of the midst of the people; they did not know what became of him; so they supposed he died and that the Lord buried him, because nobody else had done so. “No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” No wonder; because he did not have any sepulchre. According to what we have learned, he was treated the same as Elijah was; not taken up in a chariot of fire perhaps, but translated, quickened by the power of God, that he might remain as a witness of the Lord unto the last day. He appeared with Elijah to Jesus in the Mount of Transfiguration. It is appointed unto all men once to die; but some men have been translated, as it was in the days of Enoch, and they will, like others, pass through the great change. I just refer to this to show you that Moses could not have written that, although it is recorded in one of these books that were written by Moses-the fifth book, called Deuteronomy. (Charles W. Penrose, Coll. Disc., June 25, 1893)

Behold, this we know, that he <Alma> was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was [187] taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial. (Alma 45:19)

Jude said there was an argument between Michael, the archangel, and the devil who “disputed about the body of Moses.” (Jude 1:9)

There are two basic principles involved in the thesis of reincarnation theology: (1) that a man can reach a period of time when he achieves a state of excellence, perfection, or exaltation, and (2) that Gods become involved with a cycle, or return into mortality.

Both of these premises have their counterpart in the Restoration of the Gospel. As to the first-that men achieve a state of perfection-it was taught early in Church history by the Prophet Joseph Smith himself:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. (TPJS, p. 345)

When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel-you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. (TPJS, p. 348)

And Lorenzo Snow’s oft-quoted couplet also supports this: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” And so the cycle continues.


[188]  As to the second part-that the Gods come down into mortality-this has been more difficult for even the Mormons to believe. Mother Eve is called the “mother of all living.” She is responsible for her children and seeks to have them all return to her from this earth with that valuable experience. She knew that men and women must come into mortality so they could become wiser, stronger and capable of becoming like their Father and Mother who gave them life. Father Adam and Mother Eve, as Creators of so many children, learned a very important reason for living this life-so that their “eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)

In the Garden of Eden was a tree of mortality (a tree of knowledge of good and evil), which if they ate thereof would make them “as Gods, knowing good and evil.” It is here established that eating from this tree would be enough for them to know, understand, experience and comprehend sufficiently to qualify them for the stature of Gods.

Mother Eve was committed to the life of a Goddess in every way. She was the epitome of virtue and holiness, not the victim of debauchery and carnal seduction, as some profess. The devil was not the father of Cain through Eve; and the “fall” was not an act of adultery or sexual impurity.

Ancient histories often speak of the honor, glory and immortality of Adam and Eve. They teach that they descended from the heavens to come down on this earth to fulfill the mission of propagation and instruction. These doctrines are very similar to those of early Mormonism, for Brigham Young repeatedly said:

We have heard a great deal about Adam and Eve; how they were formed, etc. Some think that he was made like an [189] adobe and the Lord breathed into him the breath of life; for we read: “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Well, he was made from the dust of the earth but not of this earth. He was made just the same way you and I are made, but on another earth. (L. John Nuttall Jrnl, 1:18)

Before me I see a house full of Eves. What a crowd of reflections the word Eve is calculated to bring up! *** I am looking upon a congregation designed to be just such beings. (Mill. Star, 31:267)

If you are faithful to your covenants, you will become mothers of nations. You will become Eves to earths like this; and when you have assisted in peopling one earth, there are millions of earths still in the course of creation. And when they have endured a thousand million times longer than this earth, it is only as it were the beginning of your creations. (JD 8:208)

How clear and beautiful is the whole concept of continuing the creation of worlds and the generations of men! The basic principles of both those who believe in reincarnation and those who believe in the Gospel begin with the same lofty and divine doctrine-that man can reach upward to mingle with Gods and become like them, and then as an Adam and Eve return to mortality to continue their species as mortals. They once were mortals, eventually gained immortality, and then once again took upon themselves another condition of mortality. This was their great sacrifice so that all mankind might climb up the same ladder according to the same principles of truth and righteousness. This is the magnificent doctrine of the perpetuation of men and Gods.

The doctrine was pure in the beginning, but soon minor changes, deviations, and man-made ideas were instituted, resulting in the difference between Adam and Eve taking upon [190] themselves mortality through consuming mortal food or by actually being born again. And also that not just those who hold the office of an Adam and Eve returned to earth as part of their role as Gods, but all mankind had to return to mortality in the process of their becoming Gods.

The illustration on the following page roughly shows the life course of man, illustrating the probations he takes to achieve eternal life among the Gods. This simple model out-lines the plan of salvation as portrayed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In brief, the true life cycle of mankind is from mortality to immortality, and then immortality to mortality, rather than mortality to mortality and finally to immortality.



Pre-mortal Spirit World —> Our Mortal World —> Paradise Spirit World —>

[to one of three kingdoms] Telestial, Terrestrial, Celestial

[those in] Celestial Kingdom —> more Mortal Worlds


continually descending into mortality without another mortal birth



[192]                             Chapter 21


                               A POLISHED JEWEL

Through erring schemes in days that past

The world has gone astray,

Yet saints of God have found at last

The straight and narrow way.

(Times and Seasons 4:335)

Approximately one out of every four Americans believes he will be born again as a baby and not just once but many times. This is also a popular theory in China and India, but it is continually being modified by Christians and Mormons to be a type of modern religious potpourri. They struggle to find bits and pieces of sermons or writings to make it more palatable and appealing. By chopping off something here and adding something there, they have married Christ with Hinduism. Multiple births has become a new religious concoction of doctrine, theory and philosophy.

If being born many times were a true doctrine, it would have been clearly established somewhere in the teachings of the Restoration, for this is the dispensation of the fullness of times. Reincarnation was not some secret doctrine the Saints could not accept, like so many others were, as half the world already believed it. If such a doctrine were true, it seems there should have been at least one complete sermon on the subject. However, not one discourse can be found in support of the doctrine anywhere in the following records of the Church:


[193]  Documentary History of the Church (7 vols.)

Comprehensive History of the Church (6 vols.)

Messages of the First Presidency (6 vols.)

Journal of Discourses (26 vols.)

Millennial Star (150 vols.)

On the contrary, every time that theory came up, it was clearly opposed.

If a person would look carefully at some of the popular views of reincarnation, they would have to admit they are absolutely bizarre. A man might get married to some former animal. A woman could possibly marry a man who once was a woman. A person could come back as a toad or a flower. A dog owner might become a dog for a person who was formerly his dog. The ridiculous scenario goes on and on like some warped plot in a fiction story.

The theory of having multiple lives might give hope for the heathens of Babylon, but it has nothing to offer a true Christian or a Latter-day Saint. This whole plot is nothing but a program for sorrow, suffering and sacrifice in repeated mortalities.

Out of the many visions, manifestations and revelations that were prevalent during the first century of Mormonism, there is not one that clearly supports or advocates the doctrine of multiple mortal births. In recent years an LDS lady by the name of Betty Eadie, had one of these glorious visions and was taken into the spirit world where she saw our pre-mortal life, the beginning of this earth, and even the creation of other worlds. Concerning multiple births into mortality she said:

I also learned that we do not have repeated lives on this earth; when we seem to “remember” a past life, we are actually [194] recalling memories contained in the cells. (Embraced by the Light, Betty J. Eadie, p. 93)

In a personal conversation, the author asked her how she felt about reincarnation after her spiritual experience, and she replied, “It’s a lie! It’s not a correct doctrine.”

It has been stated that Lorin Woolley remarked: “Satan’s imitation of resurrection is reincarnation.” Believing you will have more chances in future rebirths to improve your life will negatively affect your efforts to do your best in this world. It gives a person the false hope that next time he will have a better chance to make the grade. When the prospect of exaltation appears impossible or too far in the distance, a person erroneously relies on “another chance” philosophy, when in reality there is no other chance.


*                The first and greatest commandment of God is to love Him with all your might, mind and strength; reincarnation only requires faith in a system.


*                The Gospel requires a person to seek forgiveness for sins; the reincarnationist looks upon sin as a mere stepping stone along the path.


*                The Gospel teaches obedience to ordinances in order to achieve exaltation; the reincarnationist looks at the repetition of lives as necessary for exaltation.


*                The Gospel teaches man to strive for “perfection” in this life; the reincarnationist assumes that many lives are required to attain perfection.


*                The Gospel teaches man to learn from every experience, obey every ordinance, and live by every true principle he [195] can because this is his only mortal probation; reincarnation teaches that man will have better luck in the next mortal probation.

One of the dangers of the theory of reincarnation is that it is based on many points of positive and correct evidence, but the result is a wrong conclusion. Just as in a court of law where two criminal lawyers each present many points of evidence to “prove” their case-but one is more wrong and the other is more right. For example, in a Perry Mason program, the defendant’s fingerprints are found at the scene of the crime, he had threatened the deceased person, he was seen in the area, and he had a motive-but he was not the guilty party.

Let’s consider for a minute all of the correct evidence upon which reincarnationists base their beliefs:


  1. Man had a pre-mortal existence before he came here.
  2. Man and women come into this life with a variety of gifts, talents and abilities which were brought with them from a prior existence.
  3. Individuals were created unequal at the time of their mortal birth, viz., mental and physical abilities, poverty, riches, environment, race, etc.
  4. God is just and will judge all men fairly, regardless of the time they spend in mortality.
  5. Mankind have an eternal spirit within them that lives forever.
  6. This spirit will again take up a physical body.
  7. Mortals will have a chance to correct their weaknesses and repent of wrongdoings after they have passed through this life.
  8. There are different probationary states that give mankind a chance to prove themselves and repent.

[196] 9.  The righteous will continue to grow in knowledge and experience and       finally reach a “perfection”, which is a condition similar to the one       that God has achieved.

  1. After men become Gods, they return into mortality and take upon themselves the pain and corruptions of a physical body; but they return       to their blissful realm of exaltation when their mission is completed.

These are basic tenets of both reincarnationists and early Mormon leaders. The major difference is that the latter believe it is not necessary for man to continually rotate into mortality over and over again in order for him to reach exaltation.

As a result of coming into this dark and wicked world, we have to struggle against unseeming odds, learn difficult lessons and meet opposition at nearly every turn. But all this experience is to help us and teach us enough so we won’t have to go through it again. Although we each come into this world with very different characteristics, we gain and profit by experience on our individual levels. We are like different kinds of rough stones going through whatever is necessary in mortality in order to become polished jewels. In fact, in a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord compared us to stones, or jewels:

I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;

Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. (D & C 101:2-3)

For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth; and in the day when I shall make up my jewels, all men shall know what it is that bespeaketh the power of God. (D & C 60:4)


[197]  As jewels, the Savior, the prophets, and many good saints can be likened to diamonds. Others might be compared to rubies, emeralds and sapphires, while there are many who compare to those of lesser value, such as agates, garnets, or even sandstone.

If we come to earth as an agate, a lot of polishing will make us beautiful, but it will never make us a diamond. A short, long, or multiple mortality will not change the inherent composition of what we became in the pre-existence. One-third of those hosts of heaven had such poor quality they can never hold together nor take a polish.

The Prophet Joseph Smith also used the analogy of a stone being smoothed and polished as it rolls down the mountain:

I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priest-craft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women-all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. (TPJS, p. 304)

The Savior Himself was compared to a stone:

Christ was the head of the Church, the chief corner stone, the spiritual rock upon which the church was built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (TPJS, p. 318)

And Peter likened members of the church to stones:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)


[198]  As the scriptures say, there were those who were chosen before they were born because their spirits were composed of certain special substances that pre-determined the value of their jewel here in mortality. As mentioned, mortality provides the polishing, but coming back a hundred times would not change the composition.

A serious mistake of those believing they will continually be born again, is the lack of continuity of their family and friends. They believe they will pass through the veil of death only to be born again somewhere else. They will have lost all contact with their family members and friends. The Prophet Joseph could not conceive of such a scene:

I have a father, brothers, children, and friends who have gone to a world of spirits. They are only absent for a moment. They are in the spirit, and we shall soon meet again. (TPJS, p. 359)

Those following the path of multiple births must expect a much different destiny from those who believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When they die, they expect to be shifted off to some other place on the earth to be born again-or even to some other earth. Their friends and family are of no consequence, and perhaps they will never see them again. If they do, they won’t be recognized in some other body.

To a Mormon, the Gospel brings greater and closer filial ties. It provides the connection of one great family, and the joys and rejoicing will be far beyond our expectations, as Brigham Young described on the following two occasions:

When I get through my work here, my body will have the privilege to rest; and I understand where my spirit will go, and who will be my associates in the spirit world.

[199]  We have more friends behind the vail than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life; and then we shall go on from step to step, from rejoicing to rejoicing, and from one intelligence and power to another, our happiness becoming more and more exquisite and sensible as we proceed in the words and power of life. (JD 6:349)

We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life: but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God; then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments, the sorrow arising from disobedient children-from wicked parents who have opposed their children who wished to embrace the truth, the persecutions from city to city, from state to state, being hunted and driven, you would be constrained to exclaim, “But what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory, with power to progress in all the boundless knowledge and through the countless stages of progression, enjoying the smiles and approbation of our Father and God, and of Jesus Christ, our elder brother.” (JD 7:275)

God, in His mercy and through the atonement of Jesus Christ, has promised these rewards without the necessity of continually being reborn. His plan of salvation is more beautiful and merciful than all the philosophy and wisdom of man.

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