Thursday, April 3, 2008

Baptism and Kingdoms of Glory

One of the many doctrines for which I find no allies, is the idea that a person must be baptised, either in person, or by proxy, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. By “Kingdom of Heaven” I mean heaven with its three main degrees of glory. ( See John 3:5)

I approach this topic carefully, I am fully aware of church leaders who have had a different opinion on this topic, President Joseph Fielding Smith, being the main one. However, I am unaware of any official declaration from any First Presidency on this topic, so I feel free to see things differently. Add this topic to the list which includes; death before the fall, evolution, the earth’s age, etc..

My thesis is that the temple is the template of the Plan of Salvation. It is the Plan of Redemption laid out in stone. It is how the universe and eternity work. Prof. Hugh Nibley said:

“This scale model of the universe is the temple. Of course, the word for temple in Latin, templum, means the same thing as template: a plan marked out on the ground by the augur's staff…” [1]

All true temples mark out four divisions of space, three are sacred space, and one is reserved for the profane. Three are inside of the sacred space, and one is without. In common LDS parlance they are the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms has a direct correspondence to one of the three sacred spaces in the temple. This is the message of the temple. The Holy of Holies is the Celestial Room, The Holy Place is the Terrestrial Room, the Court is the Telestial Room. These are all descriptions of the resurrection. The baptismal font or "Laver," or "Molten Sea" are located in the Telestial section.

In Solomon’s Temple, the first section within the sacred space corresponds, by illistration or imagery, to the Telestial kingdom. This space was outdoors, suggesting to the mind that it is related to this world in which we live. How does it differs from the world outside of sacred space? It is redeemed, saved, or atoned for. Only those within the sacred space are heirs of salvation, and that is done through repentance and baptism (principles and ordinances). Within the sacred space of the Telestial portion of the temple baptisms are preformed. An initiate can’t advance to the Terrestrial sacred space until the ordinances of the Telestial kingdom are complete. The same is true for entering the Celestial portion of the temple.

The Prophet Joseph Smith is criticized for making up the word “Telestial.” It was his made-up word. It has to do with receiving the initial ordinances, or mysteries.

“ Teleiomai  [relating to the telestial kingdom] means to be introduced into the mysteries… [a] teleiotes is a person who has been initiated into some degree or other of the mysteries…” [2]

"Telos" means initiation, it is the gate, the first degree.

Baptisms, whether for the living or the dead are always done in the Telestial Kingdom (this life, or the space in the temple that corresponds to the Telestial Kingdom).

All this being said, the church is charged with building the Celestial Kingdom. The work of preparing the worlds of the Terrestrial and Telestial kindoms will not be done until the millenium.

We will inherit the kingdom that is represented by the place in the temple, that teaches the principles we are willing to live. When we live those principles, we accept the ordinances of that level of sanctification, and inherit that kingdom or glory. We can’t go to that kingdom of glory and reject the principles or the ordinances of that kingdom. (see D&C 88:24)
[1] Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, The Meaning of the Temple.
[2] Temple and Cosmos, Hugh Nibley, Deseret Book, Pg# 28


JayFlow22 said...

You know, I first heard your baptism theory over at Temple Study. I was doubtful then, but the Moses Tabernacle diagram makes your idea a little clearer.
I am be willing to admit some validity to your theory...not that you needed any from me, I'm sure.

David Littlefield said...


It is always nice to know that people appreciate your ideas, even if they don't full agree.

Like I said over at I am not trying to make converts to this view. It's not that important to me, except that understanding this, will allow us to understand some other points about the temple, that otherwise may be hidden to us.


JayFlow22 said...

The only question I've thought of:
If the brazen sea is in the "telestial" area of the Tabernacle, then how could baptism be said to be required to enter that kingdom?

David Littlefield said...


Good question.

You may notice that mortals are not baptised in the temple for themselves, we are baptised here in the Telestial and Mortal world. No mortal is allowed into any portion of the sacred space of the temple before they are baptised, because baptism is the gate.

Only the dead can be baptised in the temple (there may have been a few exceptions), which symbolically brings them into the sacred space of a state of salvation. On the other hand, we need to be a little fluid in understanding temple symbolism. To inherit a Terrestrial resurrection we must receive and accept the ordinances and laws of the Terrestrial kingdom, which we do dot receive until we are IN the Terrestrial room.


JayFlow22 said...

A telestial soul must, in order to inherit that kingdom, be obedient and sacrifice [broken heart//baptism].
A terrestrial soul must follow the law contained in the scriptures.
But neither of those 2 were willing to be chaste and sacrifice all things.
Etc, and so forth.

Is that a fair summation?

David Littlefield said...


I am not sure I would attach exactly those statements.

One of the laws of the terrestrial world is fidelity to a spouse. I know what is often said about families in the Terrestrial Kingdom, but that is a law that is taught in the Terrestrial room.


Anonymous said...

Jesus Never Taught a "Less Saved" state than that of Living with Him and Seated on the Right Hand of the Father in His House and His Mansion.

The Good News or Gospel is a Complete Re-Union of the Holy Family of God.

In the BOM or Bible you will never Find a
"Less Saved" Saved>

Anonymous said...

The Rose and Cross Society has a lot of parallels to Mormonism and the Deeper Teachings

The outer circle contains the figures of the Zodiac; the second, their signs and that part of the human body which they rule; the third, the months of the year, with brief notes concerning temperaments, etc. The fourth circle contains the elements accompanied by their appropriate symbols, and the following seven circles mark the orbits of the planets; also the planetary angels, the seven major members of the Universal Man, and the seven metals, each division appearing under its appropriate element according to the elemental names in the fourth circle. In the twelfth circle appear the words: "There are Three Principles, Three Worlds, Three Ages, and Three Kingdoms." In the thirteenth circle appear the names of the twelve arts and sciences which are considered essential to spiritual growth. In the fourteenth circle is the word Nature. The fifteenth circle contains the following words. "It is the great honour of faithful souls, that from their very birth an angel is appointed to preserve and keep each of them." (See first English translation, London, 1893.)

The Three Mountians of the Rose and Cross and the Three Kingdoms of Mormonism are Striking

In an early unpublished manuscript, an unknown philosopher declares alchemy, Qabbalism, astrology, and magic to have been divine sciences originally, but that through perversion they had become false doctrines, leading seekers after wisdom ever farther from their goal. The same author gives a valuable key to esoteric Rosicrucianism by dividing the path of spiritual attainment into three steps, or schools, which he calls mountains. The first and lowest of these mountains is Mount Sophia; the second, Mount Qabbalah; and the third, Mount Magia. These three mountains are sequential stages of spiritual growth. The unknown author then states:

"By philosophy is to be understood the knowledge of the workings of Nature, by which knowledge man learns to climb to those higher mountains above the limitations of sense. By Qabbalism is to be understood the language of the angelic or celestial beings, and he who masters it is able to converse with the messengers of God. On the highest of the mountains is the School of Magia (Divine Magic, which is the language of God) wherein man is taught the true nature of all things by God Himself."

I like these Mountians the Air is fresh up here. Which mountian are you on?

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Another interesting post. Thanks!

David Littlefield said...


Thanks! Welcome. It's good to see you here.


Anonymous said...

Again I am glad that you have directed me here. Your thoughts are so similar to my thoughts, being new to the arena of conversing with others on the subject, I cannot understand what the problem is with the view you presented. It just seems like it is right to me.

Just like Passover, the temple is a ritualistic, memorialistic (do you love my word creation? Lol), ceremony reminding us of the “power to be saved.” (Both cases proving we are solely saved “By the strong hand of God”) We are sooooo totally Jewish! Lol The temple is the “walk with God” that Abraham and every other prophet in the Old Testament talks about. The tabernacle is the pattern for our latter day temples that have as Haggai prophesied “greater” glory than that of Solomon’s Temple.

The Telestial kingdom is the word in which we now live, I believe that the symbolism in the temple courtyard is just a reminder of what we HAD to do to get there, to the “Gate” or entrance of the actual facility. I think that there are really two “gates” ( I guess I am rambling, but hope I am making sense), after all really if you are only in the courtyard you are not actually IN the temple now are you?

I think that the Law of Chastity however is the link to being able to live the Law of Consecration (both celestial laws, required to enter the higher kingdom). One must be “married” to God before they are willing to “Consecrate” all they have to him, now don’t they? Fidelity to spouse is a Terrestrial Law, covered way back in the “Big 10” (remember, sometimes referred to as The Law of the Gospel), fidelity to God requires us to actually LIVE the law of chastity...(I think more people are unable to live the law of chastity than we care to realize, otherwise we would be living the law of consecration!)

I hope I am thinking enough “out of the circle” for you but still staying within’ “the box.” Lol

Your posts are sooo thought provoking, I feel as if I have received a breath of fresh air.

BTW I can't wait to read your book, will get to it as soon as I have a moment.

LBrown said...

I'm coming to yuor post late and hope you are still reading comments. I agree with you about your baptism theory. There is scriptural confirmation that baptism is required for entrance into the kingdoms. DC 138:58-59: "The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, 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." The only way I know for the dead to be washed clean through the ordinances of the house of God is by proxy baptism. Those so cleansed become heirs of salvation.

DC 76:88 says that those in telestial kingdom are heirs of salvation: "And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be aministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation." So, to enter the telestial kingdom and become an heir of salvation, is by being redeemed through the ordinances of the temple and washed clean (proxy baptism) from sin.

I have a quote that Joseph Smith said that John the Revelator is ministering to terrestial beings because they are heirs of salvation. Also, Joesph Fielding Smith once wrote that celestial, terrestrial and telestial beings are all heirs of salvation. (I don't have the sources right at hand, but can get them if you like).

To me this suggests that baptism is the method for entrance into all of the three kingdoms. For those in the telestial and terrestial kingdoms it will be by proxy baptism only; the celestial kingdom could be either by living baptism or proxy as the case requires.

This is also supported by the statement in DC 76:107 "When he [Jesus] shall adeliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless..." For the kingdom (telestial, terrestrial and celestial) to be spotless, all would have to be cleansed from their sins by baptism, and the only way,for that to occur is by baptism, as far I know.

David Littlefield said...


Excellent points. I think when we grasp these gospel ideas. the whole plan of salvation starts to come alive with the next obvious points. For me, coming to understand these things was like a barrier, once crossed, a whole new understand opened up and began.

Thanks for the comment!


Vince Methot said...

I just wrote a blog post that supports your conclusion that baptism is required for salvation in the telestial kingdom:

Understanding Baptism Line upon Line