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Exaltation or Eternal Life is a belief among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) that mankind can return to live in God's presence and continue as families. Exaltation is believed to be what God desires for all humankind. The LDS Church teaches that through exaltation believers may become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. The objective of adherents is to strive for purity and righteousness and to become one with Jesus as Jesus is one with the Father (God). A verse in the canonized scripture, Doctrine and Covenants, states that those who are exalted will become gods, and a 1925 statement from the church's highest governing body said that "All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother ... [and are] capable, by experience through ages and aeons [sic], of evolving into a God."
According to LDS beliefs, certain ordinances, such as baptism, are required of all those who hope to obtain exaltation. For those who have lived and died throughout history without having performed these ordinances, it is believed that exaltation will be available through LDS Church vicarious temple work. LDS doctrine teaches that all individuals will have an equitable and fair opportunity to hear the 'fullness of the gospel' as taught in this life, or in the life to come, and will subsequently have the opportunity to either accept the message of Jesus Christ and His gospel or reject it.
Some ordinances are performed in LDS temples (all ordinances done vicariously on behalf of deceased persons; endowment and sealings for living persons). Latter-day Saints are taught that they can become kings and queens in God's kingdom through performing ordinances such as the endowment, and by doing their best to be faithful to the covenants that the ordinances represent. Celestial marriage, or sealing, is also part of the requirement for being exalted.
Members of the LDS Church perform ordinances vicariously on behalf of those who have died without the opportunity of hearing the LDS gospel. They feel obligated to perform ordinances so that all may have an equal opportunity to receive the blessings of the Celestial Kingdom if they choose to do so through their faith in Jesus Christ as their redeemer. It is their belief that those who have died without these ordinances need them in order to progress beyond this life.
Acceptance of the ordinances by those who have died is entirely voluntary in the spirit world, and in no way takes away the agency of those individuals. Should an individual who is in the spirit world subsequently reject ordinances performed for them, it would be as if these ordinances were never performed. It is taught that some will accept them, and others will reject them.
Those who reject the ordinances are still believed to have the opportunity to inherit a kingdom of glory distinct from, and of less glory, than the Celestial Kingdom: either the Terrestrial Kingdom or the Telestial Kingdom Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom is the ultimate goal of faithful LDS Church members.
In an LDS scripture, the Book of Moses 1:39, God tells Moses, "this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." God shows Moses a vision depicting some of His vast creations including a vast number of worlds created for other people—a sampling of what God created in the past and what he will continue to do forever. Each world was prepared and peopled by God for the purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of all of His children. Immortality refers to personal resurrection by which each individual can continue to enjoy a perfect, physical body forever. Exaltation refers to living in the presence of God and Jesus Christ; to becoming like God both in terms of holiness or godliness and sharing in God's glory.
It is commonly believed by members of the Church that, as God's children, mankind may, through the merits and mercy accorded all through the Atonement of Christ, become like God the Father. As Paul taught the Romans, "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Eternity will be spent in a process of eternal progression becoming more like the Father (God).
Latter-day Saints posit that not only does God have the power to exalt mortal man, but without the possibility, there is little reason for mortality. They also point to comments made by Christ and Psalmists among others that refer to the Divine nature and potential of humans as children of God. They include passages in the Book of Revelation that describe the joint heirship with Christ of those who overcome by faith in Jesus Christ.
- "Topic Definition - Eternal Life", Official LDS Church Website 9 June 2008.
- "Romans 8". scriptures.lds.org.
- Joseph Smith, King Follette Discourse
- "Doctrine and Covenants 132". scriptures.lds.org.
- The Origin of Man & Organic Evolution (PDF). Rexburg, Idaho: Brigham Young University-Idaho. 2004. pp. 2–3. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- "'Mormon' View of Evolution". Improvement Era. 28 (11): 1090–1091. September 1925. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- Grant, Heber; Ivins, Anthony; Nibley, Charles (18 July 1925). "'Mormon' View of Evolution". Deseret News.
- "Baptisms for the Dead", LDS.org, LDS Church, retrieved 2011-11-10.
- Condie, Spencer J. (July 2003), "The Savior's Visit to the Spirit World", Ensign, LDS Church, retrieved 2011-11-10,
No one will be coerced into accepting ordinances performed on his or her behalf by another. Baptism for the dead offers an opportunity, but it does not override a person’s agency. But if this ordinance is not performed for them, deceased persons are robbed of the choice to accept or reject baptism.
- The Celestial kingdom is reserved for the members of the Church who have a testimony of Christ and live a Christian life. The Terrestrial kingdom is for the honorable and virtuous people of the world as well as those who reject the gospel. The Telestial kingdom is for the murderers, robbers and liars. The Celestial kingdom has two separate classes, those who are married and those who are not, who will be servants to others. (DC 130:5, 1 Corinthians. Gospel Topics - Kingdoms of Glory, Official LDS Church Website
- "Doctrine and Covenants 132". scriptures.lds.org.
- Romans 8:17
- The object of our earthly existence is that we may have a fullness of joy, and that we may become the sons and daughters of God, in the fullest sense of the word, being heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, to be kings and priests unto God, to inherit glory, dominion, exaltation, thrones and every power and attribute developed and possessed by our Heavenly Father. This is the object of our being on this earth. In order to attain unto this exalted position, it is necessary that we go through this mortal experience, or probation, by which we may prove ourselves worthy, through the aid of our elder brother Jesus - "Melchizedek Priesthood Manual", Official LDS Church Website 9 June 2008.
- John 17:20-23, Psalms 8:4,5
- Rev. 21:7,3:21
- Adams, Lisa Ramsey (1992), "Eternal Progression", in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 465–66, ISBN 0-02-904040-X.
- Hardy, Grant R. (1992), "Godhood", in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 553–55, ISBN 0-02-904040-X.
- Pope, Margaret McConkie (1992), "Exaltation", in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, p. 479, ISBN 0-02-904040-X.
- Ricks, Shirley S. (1992), "Eternal Lives, Eternal Increase", in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, p. 465, ISBN 0-02-904040-X.
- "Chapter 47: Exaltation," Gospel Principles, (2009)