Plan of salvation
According to doctrine of the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

, the plan of salvation (also known as the plan of happiness) is a plan that God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 created to save, redeem, and exalt
Exaltation (Mormonism)
Exaltation or Eternal Life is a belief among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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...

 humankind. The elements of this plan are drawn from various scriptural sources, including The Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price
Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism)
The Pearl of Great Price is part of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some other Latter Day Saint denominations....

 and numerous statements made by the leadership of the LDS Church.

Pre-mortal existence

In the 1840s, Joseph Smith Jr. stated that the human spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 existed with God before the creation of Earth. Thus, Latter-day Saints believe in a pre-mortal existence, in which people are literally the spirit children of God. Latter-Day Saints often point to Jeremiah 1:5 as one example of evidence in the Bible for a pre-existence. In this section Jeremiah the prophet is told that the Lord knew him before He formed him in the belly and before he came out of the womb, and was sanctified and ordained to be a prophet at that time. This teaching is primarily based however upon revealed
Revelation (Latter Day Saints)
Latter Day Saints teach that the Latter Day Saint movement began with a Revelation from God . They also teach that revelation is the foundation of the church established by Jesus Christ and that it remains an essential element of His true church today...

 doctrine by Joseph Smith and others in the early years of the Church. Prior to the existence of spirits, some element of the human spirit, called intelligence, existed eternally in the same sense that God existed eternally, but in a less progressed form of energy or matter. This may explain the Church's teaching that man and God are co-eternal (carefully distinguishing "co-eternal" from "equal", which is not a part of LDS doctrine). Within Latter-day beliefs, God is looked upon as both creator and Heavenly Father.

The Plan

During this pre-mortal existence, Heavenly Father presented the following plan to His children:

Human beings would be born on Earth. There they would receive a physical
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 necessary to exalt
Exalt is a word which means to praise, glorify, honor, intensify, or heighten. It is most often used in religious contexts.Exalt and the related term exaltation may refer to:* Exaltation , becoming like God...

ation and a fullness of joy
Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

. On earth, they would be tested through trials of their faith
Faith in Christianity
Faith, in Christianity, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation...

, and be subject to mortality
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

. A "veil" would be set in place to obscure humankind's memory of its divine origins, thus allowing for "walking by faith" and for greater freedom of choice by enabling individuals to make their own decisions. Latter-day Saints believe that only those who live good lives, prove themselves obedient to Heavenly Father's commandments, receive the ordinances
Ordinance (Mormonism)
In Mormonism, an ordinance is a religious ritual of special significance, often involving the formation of a covenant with God. Ordinances are performed by the authority of the priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ...

 of salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

, and repent of their sins will be able to return to Heavenly Father's presence (The Celestial Kingdom). However, because each human being's experiences in mortality are unique to them, every individual will be judged
Divine Judgment
Divine judgment means the judgment of God or other supreme beings within a religion. The concept is prominent in Abrahamic religions, most significantly in the Last judgment.-Objective and subjective judgment:...

 in accordance with the opportunities they had while living on Earth (e.g.: someone with severe psychological problems would be judged differently from someone with perfect mental health, or some one having never been given the chance to hear the Gospel and accept it.).

Integral to this Plan was freedom of choice, which Heavenly Father considered an inviolable right of all his children; every individual would have opportunities to make certain choices that would determine the course of their life on Earth and in the Hereafter. No human would ever have their agency
Agency (Mormonism)
Agency , in Latter-day Saint theology, is "the privilege of choice which was introduced by God the Eternal Father to all of his spirit children in the premortal state". Mortal life is viewed as a test of faith, where our choices are central to the Plan of Salvation...

 taken away in an attempt to force righteous behavior. People would be free to do evil and good, both to themselves and to those around them. Because such freedom would make it possible for Heavenly Father's children to break commandments and sin, a Savior
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 would be needed to offer them freedom from the just consequences of their sins and allow them to Repent: this figure would have to overcome both sin and death, making it possible for obedient and repentant individuals to return to Heavenly Father's presence through a plan of mercy. The pre-mortal Jesus Christ, then known as Jehovah
Jehovah is an anglicized representation of Hebrew , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton , the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible....

, volunteered to be this Savior, agreeing to take upon himself infinite suffering for every sin, mistake, and all pain and suffering ever to be experienced throughout all time by all of God's children. He also agreed to die and be resurrected
Death and Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

, thus making it possible for all individuals (obedient or not) to be resurrected
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

. The Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 would be sent to encourage righteous behavior and guide human beings towards Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, but would never interfere with the free exercise of human agency.

Also part of the plan was a foreordination of prophets and teachers who would have gifts and callings among men to teach and re-teach correct principles so that agency could be used wisely. Heavenly Father stressed the important role parents would have to teach their children the path of righteousness and happiness, and the blessing
A blessing, is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.- Etymology and Germanic paganism :...

 of the holy scriptures that would give a foundation of gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 knowledge, including the knowledge of the saving role of Jesus Christ and the importance of ordinances and covenants
Covenant (biblical)
A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith. It it is used in the Tanakh 286 times . All Abrahamic religions consider the Biblical covenant...

 in the gospel.

As the plan was explained, God's spirit children also understood that full gospel truth could be lost on the earth as men and women could choose against living by the truth at any point, and could devise other beliefs and ways to live that would be appealing to the natural mind. Yet they also understood that there would be opportunities before the final judgment for every child of God to hear of Jesus Christ and to either accept Him or reject Him.(see Spirit world for more details.)

Latter-day Saints believe that this plan ordained by Heavenly Father was not contrived arbitrarily, but was designed based on eternal truths to allow for the greatest possible progress toward a fullness of joy, happiness and love for the greatest number of His spirit children. He loves each of them unconditionally and desires that they progress, knowing that this leads to greater happiness and a potential fullness of joy.

The War in Heaven

After Heavenly Father presented this plan, Lucifer
Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...

 volunteered to save mankind by taking away man's agency. Nobody would be able to fail the test and so, Lucifer claimed, everyone would be able to return to the presence of Heavenly Father. As recompense for the implementation of his plan, Lucifer demanded that the power and the glory which Heavenly Father possessed be transferred to him, effectively making him "God." However, as Lucifer alone would have complete freedom of choice under his plan, no other spirit could achieve exaltation. Heavenly Father countered that this would make the test worthless, and knew Lucifer sought only power and glory for himself - as a result he rejected Lucifer's plan.

Enraged, Lucifer chose to rebel against Heavenly Father and rallied to him "a third part" of Heavenly Father's children who also preferred Lucifer's plan. The two factions warred, and Lucifer and his followers were cast out of Heaven; Lucifer
Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...

 became Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

, and those who followed him became fallen
Fallen angel
Fallen angel is a concept developed in Jewish mythology from interpretation of the Book of Enoch. The actual term fallen angel is not found in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. Christians adopted the concept of fallen angels mainly based on their interpretations of the Book of...

 (also referred to as sons of perdition), and his servants
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

. They were denied the right to have their own physical bodies (and, consequently, the ability to procreate) but were not affected by the "veil". Latter-Day Saints believe that Satan and his servants have since sought to undo or counteract Heavenly Father's plan by tempting mortal individuals to evil actions, gaining power over them and their bodies, and by attempting to restrict their freedom of choice by whatever means possible.

Spirit world

Latter-day Saint beliefs include the general Christian belief in a Spirit World between death and the resurrection. They believe that they will pass through the "veil of forgetfulness" again before they are judged thereafter, therefore gaining a remembrance of their pre-mortal existence, and that the spirits of all of mankind continue to prepare for judgment day and their eventual resurrection where they will receive a reward according to their faith and works. They believe that righteous individuals continue to proclaim the gospel
Mormon missionary
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work, with over 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide, as of the end of 2010...

 of Jesus Christ in the Spirit World, teaching others and offering them the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour and follow Heavenly Father's plan.

Final Judgment

The Latter-day Saints believe that the final judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

 of mankind will occur after the final resurrection, and that Jesus Christ is ultimately the Judge of all men. Joseph Smith taught:
Another description of the benevolence of the final judgment was presented by President George Q. Cannon
George Q. Cannon
George Quayle Cannon was an early member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , and served in the First Presidency under four successive presidents of the church: Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow...

 of the First Presidency of the LDS Church in 1884:


Unlike Nicene
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 Christianity, Latter-day Saints believe that the scriptures teach of multiple types or levels of salvation:
  • Immortality
    Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

    is explained as a gift freely given to everyone, made possible by Jesus' death and resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

    . The church teaches that "The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form...even as we now are at this time. ...This restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame."

  • After everyone has been resurrected, all will be judged
    Last Judgment
    The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

     by Jesus Christ. As part of this judgment, each person is assigned to one of three heavenly kingdoms (sometimes called Degrees of Glory
    Degrees of glory
    In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' theology, there are three degrees of glory which are the ultimate, eternal dwelling place for nearly all who lived on earth after the Spirit world.Joseph Smith, Jr...

    ): the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom.. The kingdom within heaven
    Degrees of glory
    In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' theology, there are three degrees of glory which are the ultimate, eternal dwelling place for nearly all who lived on earth after the Spirit world.Joseph Smith, Jr...

     for which each person has qualified is conditional upon acceptance of, and true faith in, Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer
    - Religion :*Redeemer , referring to Jesus Christ*Mahdi, described in Islam as "the Redeemer "*Redeemer Presbyterian Church - Other organisations :*Redeemer Lutheran College, school in Queensland, Australia...

     of mankind - this is demonstrated through baptism and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, including repentance.

  • In order to achieve "eternal life", the highest quality and happiest of the degrees of salvation, one must enter into the Celestial Kingdom.

Each level of salvation as explained above relies upon Christ's grace through His infinite atonement, and is conditional upon each person's eventual acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior from the consequence of sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 and spiritual death. Through His physical and spiritual suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, He makes it possible for each person to be made clean from the metaphorical stains of human imperfections, and justifies and sanctifies each righteous person for admission into the glory that they have merited as they come unto Him with "full purpose of heart."
  • Outer Darkness
    Outer darkness
    In Christianity, the outer darkness is a place referred to three times in the Gospel of Matthew into which a person may be "cast out", and where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth"...

    is reserved for those people who, after gaining a full knowledge of the Gospel, willfully deny and contend against the Holy Ghost. (Satan and his ⅓ plus those who were born on earth but chose to become sons of perdition.) These individuals who inherit no glory are called sons of perdition
    Son of perdition (Mormonism)
    Son of perdition is a phrase used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by Mormon fundamentalists to describe a person who will not take part in the glory of God in the afterlife...

    . Although resurrected, and thus immortal, they willfully rebelled and rejected the right to salvation.

Practical applications

Latter-day Saints believe following the plan of salvation entails obedience to God's commandments. This includes: active faith through emulation of Jesus Christ and adherence to His teachings; worship of God the Father, and of Jesus as the Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 and Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

; constant repentance and abandonment of sinful practices; teaching the Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 of Jesus Christ to others to aid in their eternal progress; enjoyment of and gratitude for the blessings available to human beings throughout their mortal existences; and resistance to the influence of Satan and his servants.

Good works

Latter-day Saints believe that loving kindness, compassion and mercy toward other human beings are integral to the plan, and are an essential part of the growth that human beings experience in this life. Charitable work and relief aid are similarly vital; Latter-day Saints are encouraged to fast for two meals once a month and donate (at least) the cost of those meals as "fast offering
Fast offering
Fast offering is the term used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to denote money or usable commodities donated to that church, which are then available to provide financial help to those in need...

s" for support and aid of local members suffering from financial difficulties. Money is also donated to sectarian, non-denominational and secular relief agencies worldwide, and many Latter-day Saints volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters and blood drives, among other things. Latter-day Saints youth organizations frequently include community service among their regular activities in an effort to encourage application of the Christian principles inherent in the plan of salvation.


It is important to note that, as part of the plan, those who are incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions, or who cannot control themselves, or otherwise cannot exercise free will are not held accountable for their actions. They are considered innocents. Thus children who die before they reach "the age of accountability" (in practice, eight years of age) are automatically saved; because they could not understand God's laws or make choices accordingly, they could not truly sin. Similarly, individuals with severe mental handicaps may be considered innocent.

Agency and theodicy

Additionally, the concept of free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 in the plan of salvation (usually referred to as "agency" or "moral agency" by Latter-day Saints) is the basis of Latter-day Saint theodicy
Theodicy is a theological and philosophical study which attempts to prove God's intrinsic or foundational nature of omnibenevolence , omniscience , and omnipotence . Theodicy is usually concerned with the God of the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, due to the relevant...

. God will not force anyone to obey His laws. Latter-Day Saints believe that, were God to automatically protect the righteous in every instance, people would be universally frustrated in their attempts to sin, thus effectively removing any true opportunity to exercise agency. An individual's sinful act may have tragic consequences for others, but Heavenly Father will still not deny any individual their freedom to choose good or evil. Latter-day Saints understand that, as a consequence, "bad things" may happen to "good people." A good person may, for example, be killed by another individual who chose to drive recklessly or while intoxicated; infectious diseases may be spread by a lack of attention to detail in sterilization procedures; bad people may choose to steal the possessions or oppress good people; etc. In the end, it is all seen as part of the Divine plan in which all humanity is given the chance to decide their own courses of action in mortality and in the hereafter.

Hypothesized influence of Emanuel Swedenborg

Historian D. Michael Quinn
D. Michael Quinn
Dennis Michael Quinn is a historian who has focused on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a professor at Brigham Young University from 1976 until his resignation in 1988. At the time, his work concerned church involvement with plural marriage after the 1890 Manifesto, in which...

 in his book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, has speculated that various parts of the plan of salvation were taken by Joseph Smith, Jr. from Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg
was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

's book Heaven and Hell
Heaven and Hell (Swedenborg)
Heaven and Hell is the common English title of a book written by mystic Emanuel Swedenborg in Latin, published in 1758.The full title is Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen, or in Latin: De Caelo et Ejus Mirabilibus et de inferno, ex Auditis et Visis.This book is a detailed...

. In the book, Swedenborg wrote that "There are three heavens" that are "entirely distinct from each other." He called the highest heaven "the Celestial Kingdom," and stated that the inhabitants of the three heavens corresponded to the "sun, moon and stars." Swedenborg's book also mentions a veil, spirit prison and celestial marriage
Celestial marriage
Celestial marriage is a doctrine of Mormonism, particularly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and branches of Mormon fundamentalism.Within Mormonism, celestial marriage is an ordinance associated with a covenant that always...

Quinn further argues that the book was available to Smith, and that he was familiar with it. One account claims that Smith told Latter Day Saint convert from Swedenborgism Edward Hunter that "Emanuel Swedenborg had a view of the world to come, but for daily food he perished." Additionally, Quinn asserts that the book was in the Palmyra public library beginning in 1817, and that "[n]ine miles from Smith's farm, in 1826 the Canandaigua newspaper also advertised Swedenborg's book for sale. The bookstore offered Swedenborg's publications for as little as 37 cents."
Historian Richard Bushman argues that it was more likely that both Swedenborg and Smith were influenced by New Testament scriptures that refer to "celestial" and "terrestrial" bodies that are compared to the sun, moon, and stars, noting fundamental differences between Smith's and Swedenborg's versions of heaven. He also notes similarities between the Mormon heavenly organization and post-Calvinism and Universalism.

External links

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