I. Dispensational Eschatology
Although the topic of future things is debated heavily even in the christian realm, I will nonetheless give a brief survey of what I believe the Bible says will come to pass. For a much more detailed and scholarly account on eschatology, refer to my blog series on the rapture.
1. The Rapture – Nothing needs to take place for the rapture to occur. Jesus will come to earth and call out His Church. The dead will rise first and then the living will go up and meet Christ in the clouds.
2. The Tribulation – After the rapture there will be a period of roughly seven years where God pours out His wrath on mankind for rejecting His Son. The purpose of this period is to turn the heart of Israel back to God. During this time the church will be in heaven with Jesus. The bema seat judgement and the marriage feast of the Lamb will take place in heaven at this time.
3. The Second Coming of Jesus – At this point Jesus comes back to earth for good. He will throw the Antichrist and his false prophet and all of his followers into the lake of fire. Jesus will then set up His world wide kingdom. Satan himself will be thrown into the bottomless pit.
4. The Millennial Kingdom – Jesus will rule (with His Church serving beneath Him) for a thousand years. Christians who survived the tribulation will be the ones who enter into the kingdom first. Since those people will still have their natural bodies, they will repopulate the earth. Those offspring will then have to choose for themselves whether or not to place their faith in christ. Sadly, not all of them will. After being cast out for a thousand years, Satan is released once more. He will go out and deceive the nations into rebelling against the rule of Christ. This will usher in the Great White Throne Judgement.
5. The Great White Throne Judgement – With the rebellion of the nations against Christ, Jesus will then judge all unsaved people who have ever lived. Jesus will judge humanity and the Church will judge the angels. Once all verdicts are cast, all unsaved humans and all unsaved angels will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.
6. Eternity – With all unsaved being throne into the lake of fire, the universe will be free to be remade into the new heavens and the new earth. The new jerusalem will come down out of heaven and all redeemed from all ages will live with God free from any sort of sin for all eternity.
II. Mormon Eschatology
It has already been touched on in this blog series that Mormon theology believes that man can eventually become a God should he live out the Mormon life responsibly. But what do Mormons teach concerning those who do not live according to Mormon laws, or to those who outright reject Mormonism?
1. The 2nd Coming of Christ – Almost surprisingly, Mormons actually believe in a literal second coming of Jesus, just like mainline Christianity. Mormons believe that when Jesus returns He will gather all of Israel back to Palestine, and all Mormons will be gathered in Missouri. When His people are all gathered, Jesus will pour out His wrath everywhere except for Old and New Jerusalem. See Doctrine and Covenants 29.9-11.
2. Bodily Resurrection – Mormons believe that in the afterlife, man’s body will be resurrected.
3. Heaven – When studying what Mormons believe about Heaven it is found that they hold to a hybrid form of pluralism mixed with a bit of universalism. Mormons teach that there are three levels of heaven that man will inhabit. A discussion on the different levels and hell will be given.
a. Hell, or, Outer Darkness – Mormons do not strictly use the word hell in the sense most christians do (i.e. eternal punishment in fire). They mostly use it to describe states of pain and suffering in this life. When referring to the afterlife however, Mormons believe in two area of Hell. The first is the spirit prison. The souls of the wicked and worldly will end up here until the final judgement. At the final judgement most of the spirit prisons inhabitants will end up receiving some sort of glory in heaven. However, the most truly wicked and evil souls will be cast into eternal outer darkness (this is the pluralistic universal hybrid bit I mentioned, with a bit of hellfire and brimstone thrown in for extra flavor).
b. Telestial Heaven – The lowest of the three levels. Most of humanity will end up here. It is composed of “the endless hosts of people of all ages who have lived after the manner of the world; who have been carnal, sensual, and devilish; who have chose the vain philosophies of the world rather than accept the testimony of Jesus; who have been liars and thieves, sorcerers and adulterers, blasphemers and murderers” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 778).
c. Terrestial Heaven – The second level of heaven. This realm is composed of Mormons who did not live up to the standards of the teachings of the Mormon church. Also to be found here are the rest of mainline christianity. The idea for them being here is that the true message of Jesus was tainted and compromised shortly after the lifetime of Jesus. Founder Joseph Smith was given the correct teaching and brought the church back to true doctrine. Catholics and protestants make it to this level because they hold to a partial revelation of Jesus (my wife jokingly said we get half credit). Their will also be the most sincere practitioners of other religions from around the world (pluralism).
d. Celestial Heaven – The highest level of Heaven in Mormon theology. This level is also divided up into three sub-levels. Only in the highest of these three sub-levels can man become God or possess a world in which to rule and populate. The prerequisite for attaining the highest level is to be sealed in marriage by a Mormon priest in a Mormon Temple. It should be noted that godhood is not attained immediately. It is a slow progression to arrive at that point.
III. A Biblical Counter
It is almost unnecessary to say that the Bible has absolutely no form of teaching concerning man becoming gods. As far as heaven goes, it is not a place to achieve godhood, but rather a place to exist forever in a perfect relationship with God. Like I mentioned in the section on salvation, this eternal bliss is reserved for only those who place their faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. All those who reject it will be punished for eternity in the lake of fire for sinning against God.
Although Mormonism has some very slight similarities with what the Bible says will happen in the future, ultimately they reject virtually everything it says and and hold to what Joseph Smith and his successors taught. The idea of man becoming a god is akin to that act of Lucifer when he said “I will be like the most high.” Once again, the Mormon request to be considered Christian must be denied because of their rejection of biblical teaching.