The Doctrine of Transmigration VS The Doctrine of Multiple Mortalities

I got this email today from a reader

“Hi Watcher,

> I’m reading your latest paper about the return of Elijah the Tishbite. One question comes to mind.

> Your theory would make sense – especially considering the doctrine of multiple mortal mortalities or missions  – except for the fact that Elijah was translated and never died. So, how could he have been born again in the form and identity as John the Baptist if he never died and his Spirit was never separated from his body/identity as Elijah?

> How does that affect your proposition here?



Great question.

First of all let me point out that there are two changes in the inspired version where JS clearly pointed out that John was Elijah. Therefore, I would not characterize it as my theory, rather, it appears to have been Joseph Smith’s belief.

The first question is, is the Inspired Version of the Bible that Emma preserved and gave to the RLDS church the real revision that Joseph did. (I think you can purchase exact reprints at Deseret Book showing the insertions made by the and of Cowdery & Rigdon, etc)

I am not aware of anyone that has really seriously questioned the integrity of it. Since the LDS church obtained the rights from the RLDS church to put about 50 references from the IV into their own canonized scriptures, and has essentially endorsed it as scripture, it would appear as if the Mormon Church concedes that it is an accurate and credible carry down of what Joseph Smith did. (it is interesting that of the countless changes made in the IV, the top 50 or so changes that the LDS scholars deemed important enough to include, happened to contain those passages regarding to Elijah)

The second question is, was Joseph Smith inspired to make those two changes or was he just shooting from the hip and making a wild speculation.

I have explained in the article why I believe the changes were inspired in the article.

Now then, getting to your question.

Here are my thoughts.

We know precious little about the doctrine of translation as it pertains to people, except that it is a temporary change which makes it so that death has no power over the person during that state. I think your implied assumption that Elijah still had a mortal body and therefore could not have his spirit infused into the body of John is not supported in scripture, although many people, including myself, have probably made the same assumption that you made. I think translated souls are spiritual beings, not necessarily physical beings in the sense that mortals are.

We know from Jesus’ appearance to the 12 in the upper story that his resurrected body was physical and yet it could dematerialize in some mysterious way to go through a solid wall. Would that not indicate that a translated body might be even more of a spiritual substance that could be used to animate a mortal tabernacle?

We just don’t know enough to make any conclusions.

I do think the following two statements by Joseph Smith could be providing significant clues

In a sermon given in October of 1841, Joseph Smith taught that “Translated bodies are designed for future missions“. This sets the stage for a future work that Elijah was to do in the meridian of time, since he was translated and taken to heaven during Old Testament times. Joseph also taught that “Translated bodies cannot enter into rest until they have undergone a change equivalent to death“.

Why are translated bodies necessary for future missions?

Moses died and came back to make appearances at the Mt of transfiguration and also section 110. Not being translated didn’t prevent him from the future mission of appearing in a visitation… so, what kind of future mission would a translated being be able to make that a resurrected body or perhaps even a disembodied spirit not be able to make?  (I realize that some people believe that Moses was also translated but he was not. He died. I have addressed this in another post)

I think the answer is, being born into flesh again.

Therefore, it appears that Joseph Smith may have been pointing out that the temporary state of translation enables a future mission in the  mortal flesh, whereas if someone dies and is resurrected, they cannot have a future mission in the mortal flesh…. which brings me to one more point.

The doctrine of Transmigration that I am referring to has nothing to do with the doctrine of multiple mortalities/probations that many people are currently buzzing about.

The doctrine of mortal probations, as I understand it, is about people continuing to progress in the plan of salvation by being recycled into multiple mortal probations, with the opportunity to repent and be baptized again, etc., etc., etc..  I don’t remember if I have never addressed that doctrine on this blog.

So, the doctrine of multiple mortal probations is not what Elijah was doing. He was not being recycled to enhance his chances of being saved. His New Testament ministry was not part if his probationary experience, it was part of an ongoing ministry, which probably isn’t even over with yet.

He had already been sealed up to eternal life before being translated in the Old Testament.

That was one of the points of the article, he did not need to be baptized or to receive the Holy Ghost when he came back as John the Baptist, he had already “been there… done that..”

He likened himself to the bridegroom and distanced himself from being part of the bride.

It is very important to not confuse the doctrine of multiple probations with the doctrine of transmigration. I am glad you brought this up because I probably failed to make that distinction in the article as clearly as I should have, and I need to revise it and make that distinction.

thank you for bringing that to my attention.. 🙂

6 Responses to The Doctrine of Transmigration VS The Doctrine of Multiple Mortalities

  1. Terry Displaced RLDS says:

    After coming to the understanding that JS was indeed teaching false doctrine,where as i put the blame on BY,and that making JS a fallen prophet, I can only wonder about him leading us astray with his new translation,you will note that he speaks of plural children, in fact the same goes for wifes and the same for gods.most naturally Adam and eve had more than Cain and Able but what’s the point in telling us so.Also i do not have a KJ in the house at this time but what about the part that is left out about a suitable mate could not be found for Adam so god made Eve, so whats that all about.And in sec 36 i think your DC is the same when it comes to sec 36, 7a-b-c Were Enock brethren hear before Adam an Eve?

    • Terry

      I can see why you would wonder such a terrible things regarding Joseph teaching falsely in the IV of the Bible. It is a logical conclusion to arrive at if the proper context is not applied.

      I don’t know how many of the articles on this site you have read, but, there is compelling evidence to show that although Joseph was never perfect, his canonized revelations, the Book of Abraham and the Inspired Version all fell within a prophetic window of time, BEFORE the Fulness of the gospel was rejected by the Gentiles and the Lord withdrew His name from the name of the restored church.

      The reason that Joseph had his eyes covered and began teaching some false doctrines during the Nauvoo period is because of the transgressions of latter day Israel.

      2 Nephi 27:5
      5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.

      It is not Joseph who is ultimately to blame for his leading the church into dark paths, it resulted from the failure of the Saints to accept the fulness that was offered them.

      If you are not familiar with the atonement statute doctrine you might want to read the following article

  2. NEPT says:

    Perhaps Adam and Christ were also translated beings who returned to occupy a human vessel? In the case of Adam, was his vessel directly made of clay by God?

    Or are Adam and Christ unique in that they “fell” or “condescended” from a Godly state?

    • Interesting ponderings NEPT

      I have felt that before the fall, Adam was in a state very similar to that of translation… although I still hold to the literal creation story of his tabernacle being made from the dust of the earth, yet the earth was not in a fallen state until the time of the fall. His inability to sin and the fact that death had no power over him supports the supposition.

      A similar situation could be possible with Christ. His physical tabernacle is possibly derived from his mortal mother however he does not have mortal blood in his veins and never sins, and according to Him, no man taketh this life because he has power over death, just like a translated being.

      The crucifixion only takes place because he willingly lays his life down.

      Your suggestion that Christ and Adam may have been translated or perhaps in a state similar to that of translation is a fascinating profundity.

  3. Bounce Back says:

    I love your writing. Thank you so much, all this knowledge has made me love the scriptures more deeply because I feel I understand them so much better.

    You said,”So, the doctrine of multiple mortal probations is not what Elijah was doing. He was not being recycled to enhance his chances of being saved. His New Testament ministry was not part of his probationary experience, it was part of an ongoing ministry, which probably isn’t even over with yet.”

    I was made aware of Elijah coming back as John the Baptist years ago from one of your comments. I really struggled with this concept at first. It was super uncomfortable. I remained open, but non-committal, I didn’t really see a need to commit initially.

    In putting together section 110 with D&C 13 and “the time has fully come” in 110 it has become so significant I can hardly contain the excitement. The four chapters in Malachi represent a micro version of the major events that took place in early church history……it is all beginning to make sense you’ve put the whole thing together…….WOW!!!!!!!!!

    I love the differentiation you are making between these different doctrines. Transmigration in a unique situation now makes sense to me but coming back for multiple probations seems contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    My understanding of the scriptures is that the Grace of God is what saves us, based on our faith, which is also given to us by God. (Eph 2:8)

    An infinite number of mortal probations would not be adequate for us to save ourselves by our own works.

    It is because of the infinite and eternal sacrifice and atonement of God that we only need one probation, despite our imperfections.

    My understanding of the scriptures is that those who come unto Christ relying on His merits and mercy will be given a new heart…..the doctrine that we keep coming back again and again until we get it right implies that we perfect ourselves over time, instead of relying on the mercy of God and being made perfect through His perfection.

    I remember hearing it said by a therapist that does regression therapy that people who think they remember multiple past probations down to incredible details that no one else could possibly know, are actually inhabited by disembodied spirits who are each remembering their life on earth.

    I think this is an amazing possible explanation.

    I believe the Book of Mormon when it says today is the day of our salvation and in the Bible that it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement.
    Hebrews 9:27

  4. Euro member says:

    Hi watcher.
    Just ran into your blog.

    I’ve read the king follet’s discourse many times. Fascinating. There’s a coupling things that bother me though.

    The Son did the same thing the Father did. Sound doctrine. Apparently the father was a Savior.
    Personally I cannot believe I will achieve the same level of godhood than that of those who have gone through that kind of experience (atonement,, perfect life etc.).

    Another thought : how did Father know that Christ would fulfill his promise to redeem mankind ? Maybe because he had already proven his faithfulness prior to that life. In other lives ? why not.

    The multiple probation doctrine would also explain something I can’t explain with traditional doctrine. Why does the Lord put so much efforts in order to help some special people to put them back on the path of righteousness like Alma, Paul or the sons of Mosiah ? Why doesn’t He us the same methods with everybody ? Seems unfair.

    Bounceback, I believe we’re saved by the grace of God. But saved in what way ? in the telestial kindgom ? celestial ? exaltation ?

    How can we become Gods (not lesser gods) if we always rely on someone else ? Our purpose is to become like Him. Maybe this is the real meaning of “from grace to grace”…

    We should talk more about those things.

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