Come, Follow Me Week 27 – Doctrine and Covenants 76
by Cassandra Hedelius
By Joseph Smith’s time, much of Christendom was floundering with a badly truncated understanding of God’s judgment and humanity’s destination in the next life. Many believed, as many still do today, that all people will eternally fall on one side or the other of a single line: those who did good and receive the resurrection of the just, and those who did evil and receive the resurrection of damnation. There are obvious practical issues with that scheme, starting with the fact that cheating on homework and committing genocide are both sinful, but it feels unjust and illogical to consign their perpetrators to being undifferentiated roommates in hell.
The Bible does contain hints of a more complex judgment. It teaches that Christ shall reward every man according to his works (Matthew 16:27); converts are like seeds that bring forth a hundredfold or sixtyfold or thirtyfold (Matthew 13:8); Paul compared resurrected bodies to the differing glory of the sun, moon, and stars (1 Corinthians 15:41). But this isn’t enough to build a case countering the most obvious interpretation of the Bible’s teachings–at the final judgment people will be designated good or evil, and receive their final assignment to heaven or hell.