One-Minute Answers by Stephen R. Gibson

Contents of One-Minute Answers

Why Did Joseph Smith Describe "Everlasting Burnings11 in Heaven?

Question: Joseph Smith taught that Monnons who are saved will dwell with God in "everlasting burnings." Isn 't the LDS heaven just as bad as the Catholic's and Protestant's hell?
This kind of criticism offered by the opponents of the Church is an obvious indicator that they are either attempting to twist the scriptures or that they are grossly misinformed about the Bible. As Joseph Smith was speaking at the funeral of a Church member, Elder King Follett, he indicated how comforting it was to the deceased man's family to know that although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer or die anymore; but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 347).

It would be difficult to find a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia that did not mention the symbol of fire or burnings as being representative of God's presence (see for instance, Luke 24:13-32 concerning hearts burning). Peloubet's Bible Dictionary has this to say concerning fire:

Fire is represented as the symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power, in the way either of approval or destruction Ex. 3:2, 14. There could not be a better symbol for Jehovah than this of fire.
The Bible is replete with examples of this symbol. In Deuteronomy 4:24, God is described as a "consuming fire." Jesus will appear in the midst "of flaming fire" at his Second Coming (2 Thes. 1:8). The Holy Ghost is likewise compared to fire (Matt. 3:11), and even the angels as ministers of God are compared to a burning fire (Ps. 104:4).

Is it any wonder, then, that the prophet Joseph Smith, while speaking of those who will dwell with God, used such an apt scriptural symbol? Those who are critical of Joseph Smith's heavenly description must choose to ignore Biblical scriptures that use the same imagery.