The Doctrine of Multiple Mortalities or Plural Probations or
One Eternal Round
early Christians and LDS the doctrine of multiple mortal
probations was taught. In other words we might live on this
earth multiple times before we are finally resurrected
Origen (183-253 A.D.)
soul has neither beginning nor end [They] come into this
world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the
defeats of their previous lives" (Origen, de Principiis)
it not rational that souls should be introduced into bodies,
in accordance with their merits and previous deeds, and that
those who have used their bodies in doing the utmost
possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with
qualities superior to the bodies of others? ... The soul,
which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in
no material place without having a body suited to the nature
of that place; accordingly, it at one time puts off one
body, which was necessary before, but which is no longer
adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a
second." (Contra Celsus, Book I.,
from Origen was allowed to continue in the Christian church
until it was repudiated at the Second Council of
Constantinople in AD 553.
transmigrations (reincarnation) of souls was taught for a long
time among the early Christians as an esoteric and traditional
doctrine which was to be divulged to only a small number of
the elect." (Jerome, Letter to Demetrias)
absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and
purified, and that if it does not take place during its life
on Earth, it must be accomplished in future lives." (Trinick
"Joseph always told us that we
would have to pass by the sentinels that are placed between
us and our Father and God. Then, of course, we are conducted
along from this probation to other probations, or from this
dispensation to another, by those who conducted those
-- p. 62 (JD 6:63).
"What I do not today, when the
sun goes down, I lay down to sleep, which is typical of
death; and in the morning I rise and commence my work where
I left it yesterday. That course is typical of the
probations we take."
-- p. 62 (JD 4:329).
"If you do not cultivate
yourselves, and cultivate your spirits in this state of
existence, it is just as true as there is 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 will never obtain your resurrected
bodies, until you bring your spirits into subjection.... I
ask then, if it is your spirits that must be brought into
subjection? It is; and if you do not do that in these
bodies, you will have to go into another estate to do it.
You have got to train yourselves according to the law of
God, or you will never obtain your resurrected bodies. Mark
-- p. 62 (JD 1:355).
"8 Jun 1899. During our talks he
(Lorenzo Snow) told me that his sister, the late Eliza R.
Snow Smith, was a firm believer in the principle of
reincarnation and that she claimed to have received it from
Joseph the Prophet, her husband. He said he saw nothing
unreasonable in it, if it came to him from Lord or his
oracle." Diary of Orson F. Whitney,
quoted on p. 78.
“David must have had his eye upon
the same thing when he said in the 71st Psalm, 'thou shalt
quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depth
of the earth'.... The secret of this matter is, that God in
his infinite wisdom, prepared the children of promise, the
heirs of the celestial kingdom, to live twice in the flesh
on the earth, once in a state of probation; and once in a
state of approbation"
-- Evening and Morning Star (July 1832) p. 84.
Go No More Out
Several times in the scriptures it talks about having overcome so
that they sit down in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out.
What does it mean to go no more out. Is this talking about
the fact that we continually "go out" into the world into another
mortality until we have learned what is necessary for us to be
exalted in heaven?
that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and
he shall go no more out: and I will write upon
him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which
is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and
I will write upon him my new name.
25 And may the Lord bless you, and
keep your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit
down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who
have been ever since the world began, having your garments
spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of
heaven to go no more out.
now may God grant unto these, my brethren, that they may sit down
in the kingdom of God; yea, and also all those who are the fruit
of their labors that they may go no more out,
but that they may praise him forever. And may God grant that it
may be done according to my words, even as I have spoken. Amen.
this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy
temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea,
and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his
kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments
should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.
land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of
God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac,
and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no
40 And in
this state they were to remain until the judgment day of Christ;
and at that day they were to receive a greater change, and to be
received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out,
but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.
Could it be that D&C 88:32 is
talking about those who DO GO BACK because they were not willing
to enjoy that which they might have received.
also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory
shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
32 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.
Scriptures that refer to a previous life.
There are also several scriptures from the New
Testament and show a belief that people then alive had a
When Jesus came into the coasts of
Cæsarea Philippi, he 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.
Verily I say unto you, Among them
that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John
the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of
heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist
until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the
violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law
prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias,
which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This is also alluded to in a section of the New Testament in which
the disciples ask Jesus why a man was born blind.
And his disciples asked him,
saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he
was born blind?
Without a previous life, how could the blind
man commit a sin responsible for his handicap, as the man was
blind from birth? Jesus didn’t dispute the reasoning of the
disciples, though he stated that the blindness was due to other
Did Joseph Smith state that reincarnation was a
It has been reported that Joseph Smith said
that reincarnation was a false doctrine. Let's look at what
Joseph is actually recorded as saying.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
Section Two (1834-37) p.104 – see also Documentary History of the
Church 2:304-307″I told Joshua I did not understand his remarks on the
resurrection, and wished him to explain. . . .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
the way or scheme of eternal life ― this transmigration of soul or spirit [i.e.
reincarnation] 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
Notice that Joseph
doesn't say that reincarnation is false, what he says is that
the teachings and doctrines that Joshua were teaching were
from the devil. They included the ideas that he was a literal
descendant of Matthias and that eternal life was a
transmigration of soul from father to son and that he
possessed the soul of Christ. Joseph can declare these all
false without saying anything about the doctrine of
reincarnation or more precisely a doctrine of multiple
We have other
statements by those close to the prophet Joseph Smith and
leaders of the church.
Joseph Lee Robinson
We also heard him (Joseph) 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 (Joseph) felt anxious with regard to himself and he
inquired of the Lord and the Lord told him that he, Joseph,
had never committed adultery (D&C 132:41). 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 servants to the
Gods. Be this as it may, this is what he said.” (Journal of Joseph
Lee Robinson, p. 12)
"We are immortal beings. That which dwells in this
body of ours is immortal, and will always exist. Our
individuality will always continue. Eternities may begin,
eternities may end, and still we shall have our individuality.
Our identity is insured. We will be ourselves, and nobody else. Whatever changes may arise,
whatever worlds may be made or pass away, our identity will
always remain the same; and we will continue on improving,
advancing and increasing in wisdom, intelligence, power and
dominion, worlds without end."-Lorenzo Snow, Conference
Reports, p. 2, April, 1901
Joseph F. Smith
"So far as the stages of eternal progression and
attainment have been made known through divine revelation, we
are to understand that only resurrected and glorified beings
can be come parents of spirit offspring. Only such exalted
souls have reached maturity in the appointed course of eternal
life; and the spirits
born to them in the eternal worlds will pass in due sequence
through the several stages or estates by which the glorified
parents have attained exaltation." -Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 19:942,
June 30, 1916
Rebuttal [and response]:
Spencer J. Palmer comments:
In Latter-day Saint doctrine, mankind
is on the road to immortality and eternal life. One moves from
one type of existence to another along the way. But this
teaching is distinguishable from reincarnation [we are not talking about reincarnation that we can come back as an
insect or animal, we are talking about multiple mortal
probations that are all human.] on several counts:
Latter-day Saint belief, there is only one physical death for
any one person (Heb.
9:27). [Yes it does say
that, but it is mainly talking about the fact that the
atonement only needs to happen once. If wouldn't even need to
be mentioned if we only ever lived once.] Amulek, in
the Book of Mormon, taught that man can die only once (Alma
11:45). [However that
isn't what it says. It says that after we are resurrected,
“they can die no more”.]
Reincarnation posits many deaths, but in Latter-day
Saint thought, the resurrection (incarnation) follows death
doesn't say anything about how many times we can die. “all
old things shall pass away, and all things shall become
LDS theology, the physical body is sacred, and its elements
are imperishable. The body is prerequisite to becoming like
God. In reincarnation, the present physical body is of little
or no consequence.
[The physical body is only sacred because it houses the spirit
and the Spirit of God.]
LDS theology, mortality is a time to be tested and proved "to
see if [people] will do all things whatsoever the Lord their
God shall command them" (Abr.
3:25). In reincarnation, there are many future
lives, so there is no urgent need to repent now. [Nonsense.
If you don't learn what you need in this mortal probation, you
will not progress in the next probation.] Reincarnation
contradicts Amulek's admonition that "this life is the time for
men to prepare to meet God" (Alma
contradiction at all. Every probation is the time for us to
prepare and each probation should see us progress closer to
God.] The Prophet Joseph Smith said that transmigration
of souls (spirits) was not a correct principle (TPJS,
pp. 104-105). [That is not
what Joseph said as is discussed above].
LDS theology, there is one single, unique historical act of
redemption made by Jesus Christ. Through it, Christ becomes
the only name under heaven "whereby man can be saved" (D&C
18:23). Reincarnation denies the absolute
centrality of Christ's Atonement by affirming the theoretical
existence of an abundance of equally miraculous deities, who
appear in a variety of forms, born again and again. [Multple
has no impact on how important Christ is. There is no
requirement to bring in other miraculous dieties.]
This topic has been covered in much
greater depth by John Pratt