When I covered eternal progression last time, I didn't cover any possible alternative interpretations of the term. I did this with the intent of having my article as straight forward and clear as possible. I didn't wish to clutter it with all sorts of defenses against the philosophies of men.
That said, sometimes it is necessary to look at those ideas, and see what they offer. The main opposing viewpoint to eternal increase is the idea of progression between the kingdoms. This idea is supposedly more fair and merciful, appealing to god's goodness and mercy, suggesting that He would not allow his children to be damned to a lesser kingdom for eternity.
One article supporting this viewpoint by J.J. Dewey can be found here. If we take a look at his article on eternal progress it seems to offer various proofs to a plan that allows people to cross over and grow from one kingdom to another. However if we take a closer look at the so-called proofs we find that they take a very mortal view on eternal principles.
First Dewey makes an analogy which likens progression to three cars, each going at differing speeds. However he is unable to grasp the true and glorious nature of how the Kingdoms truly operate. As I have explained more thoroughly before it is impossible for anyone of a lower kingdom to catch up with those of a higher kingdom.
If we continue to read, we see that Dewey misconstrues Joseph Smith's words “if it had a beginning, it will have an end”. Again, if we take a correct reading of this doctrine, we can see that the most important thing is whether the principle is eternal, not the instance.
We know that the eternal laws which govern the Kingdoms of God are without beginning of days or end of years and thus it is that any specific instance of an individual entering into these Kingdoms is bound to them for eternity.
What a gift this is! There is no doubt as to our status before god, for as our state is eternal there is no fear of a fall. What Dewey failed to realize is that if there is the freedom of progressing upwards, then so too by necessity is there the option of falling down. God could not be unchangeable, for if he is growing, so too is there a possibility of degeneration, and as a consequence he is an undependable and unreliable god.
Dewey goes on to say that it would be unfair or unmerciful for a person do be doomed to a lesser kingdom because of mistakes made in mortality. This shows an unmistakable lack of knowing Him and His Final Judgment.
As I stated before, the fact is that those that receive a kingdom of Glory are empowered by it. No one is “doomed” to any kingdom, as Dewey states. This word doomed implies that it is somehow a punishment, or that those so consigned are unsatisfied in some aspect.
Firstly, it wouldn't be a kingdom of glory if the people there were all miserable. Does it not say that the glory of Telestial kingdom does “surpass all understanding”. Obviously the Telestial Kingdom is far more wonderful than we can imagine.
The final and greatest flaw in Dewey's argument is his lack of understanding of agency which I have covered here. According to Dewey's teachings even the most wicked and filthy will eventually get to the Celestial kingdom.
Did Dewey not say “Will there ever be a permanent end to man's union with God? Could he ever be eternally separated from him? No.” Also “Water vapor in the air may condense and fall on the earth, but sooner or later it will evaporate and return to its source, but all the molecules do not return at the same time, each returns in its order.”
Both of these passages make it abundantly clear that there is no choice in this scenario. The first passage states that it is impossible to get away from god, no matter how much we wish it. Even if we despise God from the bottom of our blackened hearts, there is no way to escape from Him. This makes God an arch tyrant which leaves us with no escape from His grasp!
In the second, it puts us on equal level with water molecules which do not have the ability to choose to return to heaven. They do so because of natural laws acting upon them, and if we are no different than them, then we too have no choice in the matter of our returning to God. Our Agency and Will are in vain, mere illusions of the mind, without substance or meaning.
Is this not the exact plan that Satan himself advocated? The illusion of choice to pacify us, which allows us to be herded mindlessly back up to Lucifer's presence, without any real decision in the matter.
If the only difference in the kingdoms, is the speed with which you progress, then what is wrong with taking a more relaxed route? I personally don't like driving fast, I'd rather take in and see the sights, as I'm in no hurry. If the consequences of our choices are not eternal then that doctrine is no different than the doctrine of the world spoken of in 2nd Nephi.
“Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”
Take in the Sights! Experience all there is to life! Even if you screw up, and murder and rape your neighbors, you'll eventually make it back, its guaranteed! Sure you'll go through hell to do so, but that's okay, ultimately it doesn't matter! Right?
Clearly at its core, this doctrine does not lead a man to Christ. In essence, this doctrine is based upon trying to understand the Divine things of God, by the things of this world. That however is the opposite of God's way, for one can only understand the things of this world by understanding God, not vice versa. Man cannot know himself until he knows God, not the other way around. To perceive the things of God, one must build upon His Rock.
And what is His Rock you may ask? It is His Atonement. When you truly know the atonement, you know of his grace and power, and as such you know that it can cover for all contingencies. That is why one can have the faith to believe in Him, and His plan.
His eternal sacrifice is what allows us to not be afraid or be bound down by our mistakes for He already has them covered. There is no fear of not being able to make it, or any doubt as to His judgments, as His plan already has all of that accounted for.
And so I ask of you to judge between these two scenarios. In the case I have laid out in further detail here, progression is a selfless journey of creation and raising up new progeny to fill the universe with glory.
On the other hand if we take a thorough look at Dewey's interpretation of Progression there are two possibilities neither of them pleasant. Either there is no agency, and as such it is no different than Satan's plan, OR if the path to progression is two way, allowing for both an increase and a deterioration, it results in a unstable, unreliable and undependable universe where one is never free from sin and temptation, where God himself cannot be relied upon for even He has the potential to fall.
On top of which, in either case progression is basically about eternally being selfishly involved in trying to better yourself, with nary a mention about helping others. How can one be a perfect source of light to others, when one still has room to improve? Did not Christ say “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye”. Is it not said that “the inward vessel shall be cleansed first”?
If you stop and think further, this even includes God himself in such a rat race, where there are things greater than He! Does this not profane Him? Does this not deny His power, perfection, holiness, and His unchanging and Eternal nature. It belittles Him, and drops Him down to our level, rather than raise us up to His.
We read “Wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”
And so I ask, which scenario “inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ”? Which one shows a greater faith in Him, and his plan? Rather than trying to change his plan to save everyone like unto Lucifer, we must have Faith in him and his ability to judge us properly and do as Jesus did, saying “thy will be done”. That requires trust in Him.
I trust that God knows me and all of his children. I know that he will give us what we truly desire, as evidenced by what we seek after. And I know that if one prays with a sincere heart as spoken of in Moroni 10, anyone can know the embrace of His love and find the trust necessary to believe in His plan for us. Amen.