Return to About Mormons home

Heaven

by Arthur Wallace

Significant meanings of the word "heaven" are (1) the place where God resides (Matt. 6:9; Alma 18:30); (2) the eternal dwelling place of the righteous in the hereafter (Matt. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:4); and (3) the type of life enjoyed by heavenly beings. A desire for heaven—to eventually live in a better world than the present one—is the basis of a hope that motivates Latter-day Saints (cf. Ether 12:4; D&C 25:10).

Although the specific word "heaven" is regularly used in the day-to-day literature of the Church, it is not as frequently used as it no doubt would be if there were not substitute terms. The revealed nomenclature involving the hereafter in latter-day scripture is precise in detailing the varied conditions that exist in the afterlife. Hence in LDS literature there are many words that refer to life beyond mortality, such as paradise, the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, the Telestial Kingdom, or the degrees of glory.

In the future, this earth will be renewed and receive a paradisiacal glory (A of F 10; Isa. 65:17-25; D&C 88:25-26). This change of the earth will be associated with the millennial reign of the Savior, and the earth will eventually become a "new heaven and a new earth" (D&C 29:23). The earth will ultimately be "like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon" (D&C 130:9). When this occurs, both the Father and the Son will rule over this planet and those who dwell upon it. This earth will be a heaven to its celestial inhabitants. Speaking of conditions of the future life, the Prophet Joseph Smith explained, "That same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy" (D&C 130:2).

The doctrinal emphasis on the eternal nature of the family and the implementation of gospel principles into home and family relationships have frequently led leaders of the Church to characterize the faithful family as a foretaste of "heaven here on earth" (Monson, p. 69).

[See also Afterlife; Kingdom of God: In Heaven.]

Bibliography

McDannell, Colleen, and Bernhard Lang. Heaven: A History. New Haven and London, 1988.

Monson, Thomas S. "Hallmarks of a Happy Home." Ensign 18 (Nov. 1988):69-72.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Heaven

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

All About Mormons