Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

The necessity of resurrection

April 20th, 2017 by Bruce Charlton

It is a puzzle why humans need to be born, die and be resurrected before attaining eternal life. And why even Jesus also needed to do this….

Clearly, this fact implies that the actions of our creator are constrained – in time and space – because it is necessary that this process actually happens requiring bodies and duration. (i.e. God cannot do anything instantly – perhaps especially where he is dealing with agents. Some things must be done via stages.)

One way of understanding may be that incarnation is (for Jesus as well as ourselves) into actual, ‘biological’ human families – and Mormons recognise that this is also our eternal destiny.

So; we were premortal spirits who were (in a sense) inserted into biological matter (derived from our biological parents) when we were incarnated. And therefore there is a tension, and an unintegratable quality about our union of spirit and body, during our mortal lives.

This disunity of spirit and body is solved by death – by the death of the biological body, followed by its re-making in a perfected form, from the surviving spirit. My assumption is that the process of resurrection is not possible until the spirit has experienced life ‘in’ a body – and only after this experience that is it possible to make a new, resurrected, perfect and therefore immortal body – using the experienced-spirit as a ‘template’.

In sum – the pre-mortal spirit cannot be a template for resurrection, because it lacks experience of incarnation; and only after incarnation (and this applies no matter how briefly incarnation is experienced – including those who die in the womb, or at birth). But after incarnation is experienced, the spirit is a suitable template for an eternal incarnation.

The temporary incarnation of mortal life makes the template for the permanent incarnation of immortality.

Comments (8)
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April 20th, 2017 02:42:17

Jacob G
April 20, 2017

Interesting. I’ve long had the idea that our mortal bodies are changeable and thus good for learning (repentance really), while our immortal bodies can’t really change and are good for being perfect (but presumably we couldn’t repent if we were one of those). It also appears that generally we aren’t ready for final resurrection when we die but require some time preparing in the spirit world before that perfect day.

I’ve always understood it to be doctrine that a child or infant that died would get a chance to grow up in a mortal (tho prhps not fallen) body and they would be twinkled from mortal body to perfected immortal body when they are grown and ready.

Jacob G
April 20, 2017

Or I should say continue to grow up, beginning at the age they left off.

April 20, 2017

Both of your suggestions are sensible.

Myself, I wonder if the soul (including the body) carries some kind of heritage of sin with it, such that being born again is necessary for perfection.

April 21, 2017

With regard to the necessity of being born:

I’ve recently been mulling over the interaction of genetics with our premortal spirits. Whatever portion of our selves derives from a premortal personality, it is overlain with a LOT of genetic influence once we receive a body. The blood of two family lines runs through every child. Unless you buy the “Saturday’s Warrior” scenario where we all pre-destined to be born into certain families (what are you, a Calvinist?), then you have to assume that the genetic portion of our selves is something contingent and not set prior to conception. And yet it’s a HUGE part of who we become.

Looking at it another way, Christ was already the firstborn and greatest of all Heavenly Father’s children before his mortal life. But I find it interesting that he also had to become the Father’s Only Begotten in the flesh. There may have been qualities of the Father that he could only receive if they were part of his genetic makeup, so to speak, and not just inherent to his premortal spirit.

Perhaps this genetic overlay is necessary to eternal progression. Why might that be? We know that families are one of the fundamental units of exaltation. Rather than just assigning us into family units as if they were military regiments, God gives us the chance to be born to parents who love us precisely because we are made in their image as well as God’s. Thus, mortal birth is necessary to unite us biologically with our ancestors and descendants.

This jibes with my previous idea that Adam and Eve had to become *mortal* (not just fallen) in order to have children:

So you have to be born in order to be united with your eternal family (or even to become a family at all), and you have to be mortal in order to be born and to have children. Once you’ve established the need for birth and death, the need for resurrection suggests itself.

April 21, 2017

A lot of software works this way. You write the prototype, and learn all the lessons about how not to do it. Then you write the real thing, doing it right the second time. (Or so you flatter yourself.)

Bruce Charlton
April 22, 2017

@MC “assume that the genetic portion of our selves is something contingent and not set prior to conception. ”

Considering how utterly different life experiences, and thus the potential for different trypes are learning, are – both between parents and between times in history – it seems implausible to me that God would be so indifferent to this aspect as to place us ‘randomly’ wrt time and place and parents.

Of course, nobody knows *exactly* how things will work out, especially during a long life. But there seems to be a strong case for supposing that we are ‘placed’ – and therefore that many aspects of our constitution, abilities etc – as well as the challenges and benefits – were also chosen for our own (ultimate) good.

April 22, 2017


I agree with that. By “not set prior to conception” I don’t mean to imply that we aren’t “placed,” only that the personal qualities which we acquire genetically from our parents are contingent on them actually conceiving us. If our intended “placement” were frustrated by an exercise of agency, then we would of course end up with the qualities of the parents who *did* conceive us.

April 22, 2017

I assume that I was originally intended to be Bryce Harper’s identical twin brother, but was re-directed to allow for greater humility.

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