I am a Mormon, and have been for my entire life. I served a 2 year mission for the LDS church in Sacramento, California. I talked to many people every day about what we believe, about all sorts of topics. This is one that is misunderstood alot.
The Mormon religion is probably one of the most misunderstood religions in the world. Even after Mitt Romney’s presidential run in 2012 (Romney is a Mormon), most people don’t fully grasp what Mormons believe. Are they Christian? What do they think happens after death? Do they pay their missionaries?
Mormons are Christians—the full name of their church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and they don’t pay their missionaries. They do, however, have some pointed beliefs about heaven and life after death.
You don’t immediately go to heaven
Unlike other Christian denominations, Mormons do not believe that you immediately go to heaven after you die. Instead, they believe that your spirit goes either to a “paradise” or a “prison” to await judgement.
In the Book of Mormon, a book of Christian scripture translated by Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism), spirit paradise is described as “a state of rest, a state of peace.”
Spirit prison is for people who did not follow Jesus while on earth. In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter explained that Jesus “preached unto the spirits in prison.”
Mormons believe that the spirits of all people who have died are assigned to wait in either paradise or prison based on how they lived their life on earth. But even the people in spirit prison can learn and progress, becoming better people before the Final Judgment.
Everyone will be judged before going to heaven
Mormons believe that all people will be judged based on their obedience to Jesus’s gospel. People in spirit prison will be taught the gospel before the Final Judgment.
One Bible verse that Mormons use to support this belief is found in 1 Peter, chapter 4, verse 6: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
That scripture essentially speaks to the belief that God wants all His children to have the chance to accept or reject Jesus’s gospel. If someone wasn’t able to hear that gospel while on this earth, they’ll have the opportunity before the Final Judgment.
It’s a physical location
Mormons believe that heaven is an actual physical location. They believe that heaven is the place where God and Jesus currently reside and that everyone who has lived will have the chance to go
back to heaven and spend eternity with God and Jesus.
This is an important distinction to make because some religions believe that heaven is more of a state of being rather than an actual physical destination.
There are three levels of heaven
Most religions believe that all people will go either to heaven or to hell. Mormons believe that after the Judgment, there are actually three levels of heaven where people will go. They cite the Apostle Paul in theBible, who called the different levels of heaven “glories” and compared them to the brightness of the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Those who were obedient to God’s commandments will live in the highest level of heaven with God and their families.
Those who choose not to follow God will not enjoy the full glory of living in the presence of God.
Mormons believe that hell can be the anxiety and heartache you feel when you’ve sinned. Those feelings don’t go away after death and can prevent people from enjoying the highest level of heaven. This is why Mormons believe that people must repent of their sins before Judgment. Without repenting, people cannot progress to the highest level of happiness that they could have. In this way, hell can be a state of mind because you know what reward you could have had.
Mormons have many unique beliefs, but their views on heaven aren’t that far out of the ordinary. If you take the time to study the reasons behind Mormon beliefs, you’ll easily see why Mormons believe as they do. You may not agree with them, but there’s nothing to lose by seeking to understand and respect the beliefs of others.