General LDS Information
Basic LDS Beliefs
LDS Videos
Critics' Questions
Submitted Questions
Scriptures/LDS Literature
LDS Temples
Music and Arts
LDS Online Stores
Priesthood, Humor, Miscel.
Site Map

Suggest a Site
Now accepting banner ads!

Bookmark and Share

JERRY - Is the afterlife (spirit world) part of our second estate? I read a talk about the spirit world by Elder Neal Maxwell that hints to that. He said "We tend to overlook the reality that the spirit world and paradise are part, really, of the second estate" From The Promise of Discipleship (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001), pp. 105-114.

JOEL - Most LDS members equate our second estate with this mortal life only. President Marion G. Romney said:

"The promise is that if they keep this, their second (that is, our mortal) estate, they "shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever."
. . . [W]e came to earth for two purposes: one, to obtain physical bodies of flesh and bone in the likeness of our Heavenly Father; and two, to be proved-to see if we "will do all things whatsoever the Lord" our God commands us. (CR1976Apr:118-19)

It's hard to know how one can prove themselves in the spirit world without the weaknesses of the body. As the scriptures say:

"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Abr.3:25-26 )

"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." (Alma 34:32)

To keep our second estate means that we successfully prove ourselves worthy through our faith in this world. From what I can tell most LDS scholars and General Authorities tend to confine the deffinition of Second Estate to this mortal life. But there are some who look at it another way.

LDS scholar Daniel H Ludlow seems to agree with Elder Maxwell:

"The scriptures and the prophets of this dispensation have referred to our present condition—a combination of spirit body and physical mortal body—as being part of our second estate. This estate began when our spirit body and physical mortal body came together initially, and it ends at the resurrection when our spirit body and our immortal physical body come together, never to be separated again. Our second estate does not end with our physical temporal death; it ends with our resurrection. Therefore, our next major phase of existence—the postmortal spiritual existence—is part of our second estate.
The postmortal spiritual existence is part of our second estate and remains a time of testing and proving. It is evident that agency will continue to play an important part of that realm, and will undoubtedly do so throughout all the eternities to come." (Gospel Scholars Series by Daniel H. Ludlow)

Here are some other relavant quotes:

Parley P. Pratt:
"The spirit world is . . . an intermediate state, a probation, a place of preparation, improvement, instruction, or education, where spirits are chastened and improved, and where, if found worthy, they may be taught a knowledge of the Gospel." (Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 126)

Elder George Q. Cannon about the spirit world:
"We will have to work there to grow and to make progress just as we have here. . . . But we shall find that knowledge and power will not come to us there as the rain that falls upon us, without any effort of ours to acquire them. We shall have to exercise ourselves and exert our powers there just as we have to here. We shall be rewarded according to our diligence and faithfulness in the exercise of our agency." (Cannon, Gospel Truth, 60)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"We do not now know precisely how God handles things in the spirit world so that life there is an extension of walking by faith. Death does not suddenly bestow upon the disbeliever full awareness of all reality, thereby obviating the need for any faith. Instead, what follows death is a continuum of the basic structure in mortality—until the Judgment Day, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ (see Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10; D&C 76:110). Until then, we 'walk by faith, not by sight' (2 Corinthians 5:7). (Maxwell, That Ye May Believe, 94)

Victor L. Ludlow agrees with his father:
"The postmortal spirit world is a natural continuation of earth life. It comprises the other vital portion of our second estate. The second estate began with our birth as our spirit and physical body were joined together, and it continues until they are reunited again in a resurrected state. . . . Both phases of the second estate are probationary periods where we learn, develop, and test our spiritual commitments. Our priorities must be developed and refined before we can exit from the postmortal spirit world. " (Ludlow, Principles and Practices, 225)

I can understand why Elder Maxwell and others might want to append our existence in the Spirit World to the second estate; especially for those who don't receive the oportunity to hear about and receive the gospel in this life. For them it might be considered an extension of their second estate where they will have that opportuniy to hear it and using their faith and agency reject or accept the gospel. If this is true our third estate will begin with our resurrection and continue through eternity.

Return to top
Return to Questions