ARTICLE 10-We believe that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
Renewal of the Earth
The Earth Under the Curse-The blessed conditions under which the earth shall exist and man shall live during the millennial era are almost beyond human powers of comprehension, so different are they from all to which history testifies and experience confirms. A reign of righteousness throughout the earth has never yet been known to the fallen race of man. So marked has been the universal curse, so great the power of the tempter, so bitter the selfish strife betwixt man and man and between nation and nation; so general has been the enmity of the animal creation, among its own members and toward the being who, though in a degraded state, yet holds the divine commission to the authority of dominion; so prolific has been the soil in bringing forth thorns, thistles, and noxious weeds-that the description of Eden is to us as the story of another world, an orb of a higher order of existence, wholly unlike this dreary sphere. Yet we learn that Eden was in reality a feature of our planet, and that the earth is destined to become a celestialized body fit for the abode of the most exalted intelligences. The Millennium, with all its splendor, is but a more advanced stage of preparation, by which the earth and its inhabitants will approach foreordained perfection.
Regeneration of the Earth-The term regeneration translated from the Greek palingenesia, and signifying a new birth, or, more literally, one who is born again, occurs twice in the New Testament; while other expressions of equivalent meaning are found. However, the terms are usually applied to the renewal of the soul of man through spiritual birth, by which salvation is made obtainable; though our Lord’s use of the term, in the promise of future glory which He confirmed upon the apostles, has probable reference to the rejuvenation of the earth, its inhabitants and their institutions, in connection with the millennial era: “I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
A time of restitution is foretold. Consider the words of Peter, spoken to the people who had come together in Solomon’s porch, marveling over the miraculous healing of the lame beggar at the gate Beautiful: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
That the change to a state more nearly approaching perfection is to affect both nature and man is evident from the teachings of Paul, as recorded in his letter to the Romans: “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Throughout the Millennium, the process of regeneration will continue. Society shall be purified; nations shall exist in peace; wars shall cease; the ferocity of beasts shall be subdued; the earth, relieved in great measure from the curse of the fall, shall yield bounteously to the husbandman; and the planet shall be redeemed.
The final stages of this regeneration of nature will not be reached until the Millennium has run its blessed course. Describing the events to take place after the completion of the thousand years, John the Revelator wrote: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. * * * And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” A similar prediction was made by Ether the Jaredite: “And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.” This event is to follow the scenes of the Millennium, as the context makes plain.
In the year 1830 of our present era, the Lord said: “When the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season; And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea; And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand.”
According to the scriptures the earth has to undergo a change analogous to death, and is to be regenerated in a way comparable to a resurrection. References to the elements melting with heat, and to the earth being consumed and passing away, such as occur in many scriptures already cited, are suggestive of death; and the new earth, really the renewed or regenerated planet, may be likened to a resurrected organism. The change has been called a transfiguration. Every created thing that fills the measure of its creation is to advance in the scale of progression, be it an atom or a world, an animalcule, or man-the direct and literal offspring of Deity. In speaking of the degrees of glory provided for His creations, and of the laws of regeneration and sanctification, the Lord, in a revelation dated 1832, speaks plainly of the approaching death and subsequent quickening of the earth: “And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law-Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it.”
During the Millennium, the earth will be tenanted by both mortal and immortal beings; but after the regeneration is complete death will no longer be known among its inhabitants. Then the Redeemer of earth “shall deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father, spotless, saying: I have overcome.’ Before victory is thus achieved and triumph won, the enemies of righteousness must be subdued; the last foe to be vanquished is death: “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
The following partial description of the earth in its regenerated state has been given by the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation: “This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.”
Attempts have been made to demonstrate an agreement between the teachings of science concerning the destiny of the earth, and the scriptural predictions regarding the ordained regeneration of our planet by which it is to be made fit for the abode of immortalized souls. Without close consideration of the alleged evidence of mutual support between science and the revealed word in this matter, it may suffice to say that the so-called evidence is unsatisfactory, and that science is practically silent on the subject. The geologist views the earth as a body in process of continual change, its surface a heterogeneous mass of fragmental material; he reads, in the record inscribed on its stony pages, the story of past development through many successive stages of progress, each making the globe more fit for habitation by man; he witnesses the work of constructive and destructive agencies now in operation, land masses yielding to the lowering action of air and water and by their destruction furnishing material for other formations now in process of construction-the general effect of all such being to level the surface by degrading the hills and raising the valleys. On the other hand, he observes volcanic and other agencies operating to increase the inequality of level by violent eruption and crustal elevation or depression. He confesses inability, from his observations of the present and his deductions concerning the past of the earth, to predict even a probable future. The epoch-making declaration of an acknowledged leader in the science is in point: Geology furnishes “no traces of a beginning, no prospect of an end.”
The astronomer, studying the varied conditions of other worlds, may seek by analogy to learn of the probable fate of our own. Gazing into space with greatly augmented vision, he sees, within the system to which the earth belongs, spheres exhibiting a great range of development-some in their formative stage, unfit for the abode of beings constituted as are we; others in a state more nearly resembling that of the earth; and yet others that appear old and lifeless. Of the vast systems beyond the comparatively small company under control of our own sun he knows little beyond the fact of their existence. But nowhere has he discovered a celestialized world; and mortal eye could not discern such an orb even if it were within the limits of unaided or telescopic vision as determined by distance alone. We may readily believe in the existence of worlds other than those of structure so gross as to be visible to our dull eyes. In regard to the revealed word concerning the regeneration of earth, and the acquirement of a celestial glory by our planet, science has nothing to offer either by way of support or contradiction. Let us not, because of this, disparage science nor decry the labors of its votaries. No one realizes more fully than does the mind trained to scientific method how much we do not know.
Resurrection of the Body
Resurrection from the Dead-Closely associated with, and analogous to, the ordained rejuvenation of earth, whereby our planet is to pass from its present dreary and broken state to a condition of glorified perfection, is the resurrection of the bodies of all beings who have had an existence upon it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the doctrine of a literal resurrection; an actual reunion of the spirits of the dead and the tabernacles with which they were clothed during mortal probation; and transition from mortality to immortality in the case of some who will be in the flesh at the time of the Lord’s advent, and who, because of individual righteousness, are to be spared the sleep of the grave. The Bible is replete with testimony regarding the quickening of the dead. Human knowledge of the resurrection rests wholly upon revelation. Pagan peoples have little or no conception of an actual coming forth of the dead unto life.