Defending the Faith: Christ among the dead: An ancient doctrine and a modern witness


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  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Nov. 18, 2013 11:52 a.m.


    You have not answered the questions.

    Yes, Origen may have been excommunicated in the post Nicaea (Roman Catholic) world but the point is still valid. Unless you believe that a church created by Roman Emperors of dubious conversion is somehow divine.

    As to God existing before and hence, outside of time. I think the evidence is clear. Genesis indicates that God creates the reckoning of time. Alma 40 states that "all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men." Revelation 10:6 and D&C 88:110 agree that in the future "there should/shall be time no longer". D&C 84:100 states that once Satan is bound "time is no longer".

    From these I take it that God is, in fact, outside of time. Although Peter (2 Peter 3:8) says "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years" (and other LDS sources use that same thought) I take these to mean that God calculates time on a much longer scale, not that he is subject to time.

    In our modern view, time and space are related. If so, the creation of one is the creation of the other.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 17, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    Twin Lights, Origen believed in the Platonic pre-existence and transmigration of souls. The Council of Constantinople in 453 CE posthumously excommunicated him.

    (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

    RE: teeoh (Deut 6:4)The LORD is our God, the LORD alone=(echad)” (NAB, NRSV, NLT). This would be an affirmation that the LORD(YHWH) was the sole object of their devotion.

    (Gen 1:1 LXX) In the beginning God(o Theos),not Gods, Jews and Christians are monotheists. 3 persons one God(Tri-une).

    (Gen 1:27) His (Spiritual) image. E.g. The Holy Spirit does not have a body nor Jesus prior to “The Incarnation “John 1:14 and believe,
    od [is] spirit. (*pneuma ο theos) (John 4:24). There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the quality or essence of the word. The word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be something like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” Jesus did not leave any doubt about this truth. God(The Father)= spirit!

    Last post rule

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    Nov. 17, 2013 8:52 a.m.


    "There is no support whatsoever for plurality of Gods in both the KJV Bible and the BOM."

    On the contrary. The very existence of The Father and the Son testifies to the fact that there is more than one god. That they are the same in all things essentially makes them one god, not in terms of one physical entity (a concept over which many people stumble), but in terms of purpose, plan and design ("I and my Father are one.") Anything one of them does reflects exactly that which the other would do in all things. Acknowledging either acknowledges both.

    If they were not separate, distinct beings capable of making independent decisions, the entire concept of Christ would be a sham, for there would have been no test, no possibility of failure, and hence no real triumph over death. However, Christ, as a mortal, did his Father's will, paid the price for man's sins, overcame death and rose again to join his Father. Two personages, one God.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 16, 2013 10:19 p.m.


    Before we change topics (to the Preexistence or the Creation), I just want to be sure that you understand that the LDS interpretation of Peter is within the scope of accepted interpretations by non-LDS biblical scholars. True?

    Reference the Preexistence, Origen defended it (meaning it was a known concept pre Nicaea). You can read his defense. Whether you accept it or not is irrelevant. The point is that the doctrine is not exclusive to the LDS and was known in the earliest years of Christianity. It was also considered in Judaism. So, irrespective of your personal interpretation, you should acknowledge that, even if you disagree with the LDS interpretation, it is a valid interpretation of the scripture.

    I will deal with Creation another time. Too tired . . .

  • teeoh Anytown, KY
    Nov. 16, 2013 10:03 p.m.


    You said, "If there more than one God, it would have to read God made man in Their own image…"

    Yes, if it made sense to switch from first person plural to third person plural mid sentence, which it does not. (I truly do not understand your line of thinking on that.)

    It's interesting to me that you acknowledge the plurality of Elohim, yet deny the plurality at the same time. As you said, The Lord is one (echad). Since echad means one (unified) not one (numerically singular), this further supports Mormon doctrine.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    Nov. 16, 2013 9:14 p.m.

    I don't know why anyone chooses to listen to this particuar view. We have been told to ignore some of his more radical views. I'm learning that we accept what ever doctrine from (early and current leaders) that make us look more evangelical, and we are to ignore or spin those that don't.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Nov. 16, 2013 4:25 p.m.

    Michigander: Again you deceive by your words alone. Those souls that died before Christ Resurrection have already been judged. That is why in Joseph F Smith's vision that Adam, Eve, all of the prophets up to the time of Christ were already in the Celestial Kingdom. Those that have died that would have believed the Gospel also were there and the reason that Alvin, the brother and uncle of Joseph F Smith, was projected to be there. Many of what you have said is based entirely on your own opinion not based on truth. D7C 138 does not contradict anything stated in the Bible. What is does do though is to clarify and to pronounce hope for those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel in this life. Your teachings as they are done makes God a partial God instead of an all encompassing God. The LDS Teachings allows all of God's children to be judged according to the law. The law as mentioned in Peter is the Law of Moses which many of the Lord's children didn't live by but still may have been righteous if they had the opportunity to hear it.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Nov. 16, 2013 1:00 p.m.


    The KJV BIble does indeed offer a promise for what my church (The Church of Jesus Christ, WHQ: Monongahela, PA) claims and firmly believes. Rev.20:5-8 states the following:

    [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
    [6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
    [7] And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
    [8] And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

    "the nations ... the number of whom is as the sand of the sea." are all those souls or spirits who died after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in 30 A.D. who never heard the restored gospel, but died with a good or righteous soul or spirit. This is their final test before eternity.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Nov. 16, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    D&C 138 states the following:

    57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.

    58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

    59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

    However, Romans 2:12 states the following:

    For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    Therefore, we can conclude that D&C 138 is a FALSE revelation since it directly contradicts the KJV Bible.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 16, 2013 11:21 a.m.

    Twin Lights, The LDS view is also an accepted view among(some) non-LDS biblical scholars. But not Preexistence

    “the angels who did not keep their ‘positions of authority’=(*first estate) but abandoned their proper dwelling--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6 NIV).” VS (*KJV poor translation/Abraham 3:26.)
    The Bible teaches creation ex nihlio, E.g.. .(Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    The “Spirit” can always be used, while “Ghost” always requires the word “Holy” prefixed.
    E.g.,… the Spirit=(pneuma) of God dwelleth in you? (1Cor 3:16 & 6:19) your body is the temple
    of the Holy Ghost=(pneuma).

    @Teeoh, Elohim is the plural name for God, verse 27 God created man in His own image. If there more than one God, it would have to read God made man in Their own image…what we have is a plural noun with a singular verb.

    E.g..Deut 6:4 … The LORD(YHWH) our God(Elohim), the LORD(YHWH) is one(echad).

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Nov. 16, 2013 5:43 a.m.

    Michigander, there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for your claim regarding those who died without receiving the ordinances of salvation. None whatsoever. The Bible makes clear the necessity of baptism and other ordinances and 1 Corinthians 15:29 affirms the practice of baptism for the dead in ancient times. As this article itself illustrates, 1 Peter shows Christ descending into hell in order to liberate the captives there, which would be entirely unnecessary if anything that you were saying were true at all.

    We cannot simply "pray Jesus into our hearts"; to be saved, nor are we "saved by grace alone", in absence of any works of any kind. These sorts of doctrines were invented by Protestant preachers looking to make money selling cheap grace and easy salvation to a gullible and biblically illiterate public. Admittedly, it's better than Dante's version of the afterlife, but it still offers people false hope and is a Satanic ploy to keep as many people imprisoned in hell as possible. Believe whatever you want, but the Bible offers no promise for what you claim. Only the temple does.

  • teeoh Anytown, KY
    Nov. 15, 2013 9:08 p.m.

    @Michigander. You said, "The verse you're quoting is the Father speaking to the Son and the Son speaking to the Father thru the Holy Ghost, which is the mind of the Father and the Son (1 Cor.2:10-16). There is no support whatsoever for plurality of Gods in both the KJV Bible and the BOM."

    To me, that explanation had to jump through a lot of hoops, not to mention assumptions. Sure, you could say the same about my interpretation. I suppose that's the interesting thing about all the various doctrines of Christianity...so many ways to interpret scripture. Regardless, my point is that there IS a Biblical basis for a doctrine of Heavenly Parents. You don't have to agree with it.

    @Sharrona. You said, "If there were more than one God it would read in “THEIR image."

    Huh? No, it wouldn't read that way if God the Father is speaking in the first person plural (us, our), which He is.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 15, 2013 6:00 p.m.


    Your view reference the spirits in prison is one of many held by non-LDS biblical scholars. The LDS view is also an accepted view among non-LDS biblical scholars.

    I understand that you disagree with the LDS view but it must be acknowledged that the LDS view on this scripture is not unique to us. Further, this scripture somewhat gives non-LDS biblical scholars fits and there is a bit of disagreement on it. Presenting that interpretation as if it was the only view accepted by non-LDS scholars is disingenuous.

    Yes, the bit about giants is interesting given that Nephi was a large man.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 15, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    "....conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty...."

    The Apostles creed didn’t settle anything. One, holy, catholic, and apostolic was everything the early Church was not. The Nicene Council was mandated by imperial edict in a doomed attempt to force the bishops to settle their differences and thereby strengthen the unity of the Roman Empire when it was beset by growing threats.

    There is no one-size-fits-all Christianity, nor is there likely ever to be.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 15, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    Twin Lights, ‘spirits in prison’; .. “in the days of *Noah,” 1Peter 3:19-20.

    .… the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day (Jude 6 NIV).

    Some of the angels who fell with Satan were not content with their ‘first estate’ and began to live among men (and women) as men. God’s judgment upon them was to place them in bonds so that they can no longer promote Satan’s purposes on earth as do the unbound *fallen angels who continue to do his bidding,

    Moses 8:18 “ giants” and Gen KJV 6:4 “giants”. But Gen 6:4 NET,NIV= (*fallen/ H 5303) or "Nephi- lim: the suffix “lim” in Hebrew is plural, translated to Nephis or Nephites. Interesting

    @Teeoh,Gen 1:26-27. “And God said, Let US make man in OUR(spiritual) image….male and FEMALE created he them.” If there were more than one God it would read in “THEIR image.”

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    Nov. 15, 2013 3:34 p.m.

    @ Paul J:

    The vision of the dead is emphasized as much as any other part of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the LDS Church. That's why it was canonized into the Doctrine and Covenants.
    What you don't seem to understand is that the reality of death in an intimate part of the Plan of Happiness. Without it, the plan could not go forward. Therefore, most practicing Mormons aren't afraid to confront it... as you contend.

    Also, fundamental doctrine in the LDS Church does not change as you contend. The 13 Articles of Faith summarize those doctrines and have remained unchanged since the restoration of the Church in 1830.
    Individual members opinions about issues and policies within the church might change, but not the core doctrine itself. To think otherwise is usually from taking short excerpts of church talks out of context.

    Concerning change within the Catholic church...
    Did you know that the church never reached a consensus on how many sacraments there are until the 13th century? That Mass was said in the vernacular (native languages) until the Council of Trent in 1563 when the church mandated Latin until 1965, and then changed it again to the vernacular?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Nov. 15, 2013 3:02 p.m.


    The verse you're quoting is the Father speaking to the Son and the Son speaking to the Father thru the Holy Ghost, which is the mind of the Father and the Son (1 Cor.2:10-16). There is no support whatsoever for plurality of Gods in both the KJV Bible and the BOM.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 15, 2013 2:37 p.m.

    @teeoh – “As a believer, I read the quote you typed and think almost nothing of it.”

    I’ve asked this question a number of times over the years and most answers mirror yours (i.e., it’s just glossed over). I think it says something about human psychology that when people view something in a favorable light (whether religion, political views, their loved ones or themselves) we all have an amazing ability to ignore the negative aspects of the subject in question.

    As to you point about this quote “torturing” me… it doesn’t. As a non-believer I don’t give it a second thought (i.e., it causes me exactly zero personal anxiety). But what is troubling is how so many millions adhere to a belief system that contains beliefs like this within it.

    That I find baffling and even distressing when I think of what religion can motivate people to do (e.g., fly planes into buildings).

  • teeoh Anytown, KY
    Nov. 15, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    @Paul J

    I don’t know the origin of the LDS belief in Heavenly Parents, but there is some Biblical support:

    Gen 1:26-27. “And God said, Let US make man in OUR image….male and FEMALE created he them.” (emphasis mine.)

    It seems to me an implication of a plurality of gods, male and female.

  • teeoh Anytown, KY
    Nov. 15, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    Your comment is intriguing. As a believer, I read the quote you typed and think almost nothing of it. If I knew who wrote it, what the context was, and what that person’s greater views of religion were, then I might have an opinion.

    The more interesting question, to me, is, why does a quote like that torture you so much? As an unbeliever, why wouldn't you just ignore it?

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Nov. 15, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    There is zero evidence of "life after death".

    There is zero evidence of "ghosts".

    There is even less evidence that any person who died came back to life and then "visited" a bunch of ghosts in an alternate dimension.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Nov. 15, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    Michigander: You are constantly off topic and the censors continually allow you to do so. You constantly attack and again the censors allow it to be so.

    Joseph F Smith vision as related in Doctrine & Covenants 138 as spelled out by Mr. Peterson continues with what Peter so states that Christ went to the spirits in the spirit world. These spirits have not been resurrected as yet so they can't be in your so called heaven. They are either in paradise or spirit prison as relegated by the way they lived on earth. There are billions who have lived on this earth since it was created. Many of these had no knowledge of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. By yours and others these are just tossed out into outer darkness because they were placed where they could never hear of Jesus Christ. This then would agree with many who say he is an uncaring God. Yet, as stated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the only true and living church on earth, these are all children of God. Therefore, the LDS Churches teaching is an all inclusive Father in Heaven.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 15, 2013 12:09 p.m.

    Paul J,

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his recent conference talk, ironically titled "No Other Gods" that "our theology begins with heavenly parents." Where in scripture is this found? Nowhere, except in a hymn written by Eliza Snow--who claimed to be the plural wife of Joseph Smith, called his wife Emma a liar, and who later became a plural wife of Brigham Young. This is where Mormons get their doctrine?

    You pose an intriguing puzzle. Dallin Oaks might want to expand on his premise that LDS theology begins with ‘heavenly parents.’ I myself am at a loss to cite the origin of the concept even though I first heard it at a young age. I presume Eliza R. Snow surely heard it from somewhere to put it into the lyrics of her most famous hymn. Glad you brought it up.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Nov. 14, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    “Good men, they are spared the tortures to which the other residents of hell are subjected, but they are nonetheless tormented forever by unfulfilled yearning.”

    I am curious what religious believers think when they read things like this quote (which are ubiquitous throughout religious literature).

    Is it just glossed over? Is it somehow compartmentalized from the rest of your beliefs? If not, is it just dismissed as “the breaks” for those who chose not to believe?

    I can understand in the ancient world where people were so superstitious & clueless about how anything worked, and the gods (later God) controlled everything, that a statement like this would terrify many into believing; but how is anyone today not utterly repulsed by the notion of such a vindictive & malevolent system (and designer) where souls are tortured for all eternity for their unbelief?

    I honestly don’t know how believers live with the cognitive dissonance…

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 14, 2013 9:10 p.m.


    Just so that we are clear, many non LDS biblical scholars hold the view that these were the spirits of dead persons.

    As to the Holy Ghost, though it can testify to any, the gift thereof is described in the scriptures as coming after baptism and/or the laying on of hands of those properly empowered to do so (ordinances). Again, many non LDS biblical sites agree.

    Your point about evangelicals and catholics work only with a very particular set of definitions. I think neither Pope Francis nor Billy Graham would go along with the statement without some footnotes.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Nov. 14, 2013 2:57 p.m.

    RE:1 Peter 3:19, By which also he went and preached unto the ‘spirits in prison’; 1 Pet 3:20 ... “in the days of *Noah,” while the ark was a preparing…

    there were giants on the earth, and they sought *Noah to take away his life;... P. of G.P. Moses 8:18.

    Spirits is only used of human beings when qualifying terms are added, otherwise the term is restricted to supernatural beings. …the unclean ‘spirits’=(demonic), and they come out(Luke 4;36).

    The Holy Spirit,”Spirit” and “Ghost” are renderings of the same Greek word pneuma the advantatage of the rendering “Spirit” is that it can always be used, while “Ghost” always requires the word “Holy” prefixed. E.g.,

    The Spirit is received without ordinances, Mosiah 18:14, “And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.”

    @Twin Lights, All Evangelicals are catholic but not all Catholics are evangelical.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 14, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    Paul J,

    As a former Catholic who lived through Vatican II, I respectfully disagree.

    Reference Joseph F. Smith's vision of the dead. It is emphasized quite a bit (and was added to the official canon in 1979 so that its emphasis has increased).

    The Plan of Happiness or Plan of Salvation certainly includes the concept of death. No post mortal spirit world or resurrection without it.

  • cougarguy Glenwood, MD
    Nov. 14, 2013 10:16 a.m.

    Thank you. I am always anxious to read your thoughtful and interesting articles.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    Nov. 14, 2013 10:16 a.m.

    "Seek and ye shall find" the truths of God is a truism yesterday, today - and will be forever.

  • Paul J Two Rivers, WI
    Nov. 14, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    I do appreciate Joseph F. Smith's vision of the dead. I just don't know why it's not emphasized more. I think it's because Mormons are so caught up in its "Plan of Happiness" that it doesn't want to confront the painful reality of death.

    Thank you for pointing out the importance of the Apostles' Creed. The doctrine of Christ's descent to the dead is indeed still part of official Catholic teaching. See Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 631-637. That's the beauty of the Catholic faith. It doesn't change, as opposed to LDS doctrine which keeps adding and changing the revelation of Jesus Christ, and introducing teachings that draw attention away from the simple truths as expressed in the Apostles' Creed.

    For example, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said in his recent conference talk, ironically titled "No Other Gods" that "our theology begins with heavenly parents." Where in scripture is this found? Nowhere, except in a hymn written by Eliza Snow--who claimed to be the plural wife of Joseph Smith, called his wife Emma a liar, and who later became a plural wife of Brigham Young. This is where Mormons get their doctrine?

    Nov. 14, 2013 7:35 a.m.

    This is the type of article I appreciate, one that is not only interesting but gives me a roadmap to texts of which I would not be aware.