Celestial Kingdom

From Academic Kids

Celestial Kingdom has historically referred to a division of heaven and was coined by the controversial Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg in his 1758 book entitled Heaven and Hell. Based on a vision he said he had, Swendenborg believed in an infinite variety of heavens, classified into two "kingdoms", three "heavens", and innumerable "societies". The two "kingdoms" he called the celestial kingdom and the spiritual kingdom. The three "heavens" he called "celestial", "spiritual", and "natural". The celestial kingdom, according to Swedenborg, was "the Lord's priestly kingdom", inhabited by "higher angels", described as follows:

The angels in the Lord's celestial kingdom, from their more interior reception of the Divine of the Lord, far excel in wisdom and glory the angels that are in His spiritual kingdom; for they are in love to the Lord, and consequently are nearer and more closely conjoined to Him. Heaven and Hell 4:25.

Within Mormonism

In Mormonism, the Celestial Kingdom is the highest of what are believed to be three heavens or heavenly kingdoms. It is thought to be the "third heaven" referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:2 of the Bible, and it is also thought to correspond to the "celestial bodies" mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:40 (King James Version). The Latin word celestial means "heavenly".

Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, description of the afterlife was based primarily upon a vision he reportedly received together with his associate Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832, and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76.

According to Smith and Rigdon, the afterworld consists of three "degrees of glory", called the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom (terrestrial meaning "earthly"), and the Telestial Kingdom (the word telestial is a neologism not used in other contexts; see its own article for some possible derivations). According to this doctrine, only those who attain the Celestial Kingdom will be united with their families in the eternities. Children who die before the age of eight all reach the Celestial Kingdom in the afterlife, as well as those who did not have the chance to receive the gospel in this life, but do in the post-mortal spirit world (see Baptism for the dead). Persons who reach maturity will only be judged by God to be worthy of the Celestial Kingdom if they have performed all required ordinances (baptism, endowment, and sealing), repented of their sins, and remained faithful to the end of their life.

Possible Correlations

Smith's own description of the Celestial Kingdom contains both striking similarities and fundamental differences to Swedenborg's work.

At least one historian has suggested that Smith may have been familiar with Swedenborg's writings during the Kirtland or Nauvoo period. Most similar books that supported various doctrines introduced by Smith were discussed in Church publications, however this particular one was not discussed in contemporary accounts, and claims one way or the other cannot be verified. However, during the Utah period, the book was purchased from a New York publisher and referenced by church leaders.

External links


  • Swedenborg, Emanuel. (1984) Heaven and Hell Trans. George F. Dole. New York: Swedenborg Foundation. ISBN 0877854769

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