One important issue for any religious faith is what happens after this life is over. So let’s take a look at what Mormons believe about eternity, heaven, and hell.
What happens after this life is over? Let’s think about what Mormonism teaches about eternity compared to our own beliefs.
Mormons believe almost everyone goes to some level of heaven.
The Mormons believe in three levels of heaven, plus “outer darkness”. The celestial kingdom is where God the Father and Jesus live. Eternity for those who make it there is called “exaltation.” The terrestrial kingdom is for honorable people who never joined Mormonism or did not fulfill all the requirements for exaltation. The telestial kingdom will be populated by those who followed the beliefs of the world instead of Jesus, including thieves, murderers, adulterers, and false prophets. Outer darkness is reserved for Satan and his demons. Only a few people who knew the truth and the power of God but denied him will be sent there.
By contrast, the Bible talks about only two destinations after this life: heaven and hell. Every human being faces one of two eternal futures: destruction or life; eternal punishment or eternal life.
John 3:36 Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.
John 5:24 I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Mormons believe the focus in the highest heaven is on becoming gods.
Mormonism teaches that in the celestial kingdom, a person can continue to progress eternally toward godhood. A person must fulfill all the required commandments and ordinances of Mormonism to attain the highest degree of heaven. Once in the celestial kingdom, they can become gods.
According to the Bible, however, the focus in heaven is on our relationship with God. What is so amazing about heaven is the presence of God. The glory of heaven is that God the Father and Jesus Christ are there. Everything revolves around them – not around us.
Revelation 21:3-5 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. // He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:22-23 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.
Mormons believe that families are eternal.
To a Mormon, the family is the unit of exaltation. Without being united to a family for eternity, a person cannot be exalted.
While forever families may seem appealing, the Bible presents an even better scenario. In Christ, we become part of God’s eternal family. Earthly families will be superseded by a perfect, glorious relationship with God. The Bible often portrays Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ. Revelation 19 shows God’s people as a bride prepared for Jesus.
The focus of eternity is not on our families or our achievements or our exaltation. The focus is on God and his family and his exaltation.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What would you like heaven to be like? What do you think it actually will be like?
- Do you find the Mormon idea of heaven appealing? Why or why not?
- If the Latter-day Saint idea of heaven was real, which level do you think you would go to? Why?
- What are some fallacies or problems with the Mormon concept of eternity? (See Can families be united forever?)
- Read Revelation 21:1-9 and 22-27. Compare and contrast this description of heaven with the Mormon view.
- Talk about the idea of families being united forever. How do you feel about being united to your earthly family in heaven versus being united to God’s larger family?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.