RS/MP Lesson 41: “The Postmortal Spirit World” (Gospel Principles Manual)

Let me begin with two notes about how this lesson has changed in the preparation of the present edition. They’re important, I think, because they relate to a confession that I simply have to make before I venture to say anything about the spirit world.

This lesson was lesson 45 in the old manual, but now it is lesson 41. Let me explain this by providing the old arrangement in general, and then put it side by side with the current arrangement. The old manual was divided not only into chapters, but into units. The manual ended with three units: “Family Salvation,” “The Second Coming of Jesus Christ,” and “Life after Death.” The first of these units was made up of what are still chapters 36-40 (eternal families, family responsibilities, eternal marriage, the law of chastity, and temple work/family history). The second, though, was different: it consisted of “Signs of the Second Coming” (then chapter 41, now chapter 43), “The Gathering of Israel” (then chapter 42, now chapter 42), “The Second Coming of Jesus Christ” (then chapter 43, now chapter 44), and “The Millennium” (then chapter 44, now chapter 45). It is clear that the logic of this unit in the previous manual was as follows: the larger event of the second coming can be made sense of by first looking at the signs of the event, then at one of those signs in particular (the gathering), then at the event itself, and finally at what follows. Now, with the idea of the units gone, these have been juggled, obviously with the idea that the gathering happens before the signs of the immediate signs of the second coming. Finally, the third unit, since it was focused on the afterlife, consisted of what are now chapter 41 (spirit world) and chapters 46-47 (final judgment and exaltation).

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