I had a great question asked after one of my night classes recently. A student asked, “Are there degrees of glory within each of the degrees of glory?”
While we know that this is true in the case of the Celestial Kingdom (see D&C 131), what about the other kingdoms?
Here are a couple of quotes that indicate that this would seem to be the case:
“The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are organized on an orderly plan of gradation. We have seen that the telestial kingdom comprises several subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the celestial; (D&C 131:1, 2 Cor 12:1-4) and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the Father and the Son. The terrestrial kingdom will be administered through the higher, without a fulness of glory. The telestial is governed through the ministrations of the terrestrial, by “angels who are appointed to minister for them.” (D&C 76:86-88) 1
Glory of the stars: Telestial glory found only in the telestial kingdom. “In the infinite mercy of a beneficent Father it [telestial kingdom] surpasses all mortal understanding, and yet it is in no way comparable to the glory of the terrestrial and celestial worlds. Telestial glory is typified by the stars of the firmament, and ‘as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world’ (D. & C. 76:81-112; 1 Cor. 15:41), meaning that all who inherit the telestial kingdom will not receive the same glory.” 2
Rewards granted individuals in eternity will vary between and within kingdoms. Only those who are sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and who thereafter keep the terms and conditions of that covenant will attain the highest of three heavens within the celestial kingdom. (D. & C. 131:1-4.) Inhabitants of the telestial kingdom will differ in glory among themselves “as one star differs from another star in glory.” (D. & C. 76:98; 1 Cor. 15:41.) Similar variations will exist among inheritors of the terrestrial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:71-79.) 3
These gradations in salvation may be innumerable, since all members of the human family are different. The many gradations are however reduced to three classes: (1) the celestial, the highest, as of the sun in glory; (2) the terrestrial, the next, as of the moon; (3) the telestial, the lowest, as of the stars. 4
The three kingdoms of widely differing glories are severally organized on a plan of gradation. The Telestial kingdom comprises subdivisions; this also is the case, we are told, with the Celestial; and, by analogy, we conclude that a similar condition prevails in the Terrestrial. Thus the innumerable degrees of merit amongst mankind are provided for in an infinity of graded glories. The Celestial kingdom is supremely honored by the personal ministrations of the Father and the Son. The Terrestrial kingdom will be administered through the higher, without a fulness of glory. The Telestial is governed through the ministrations of the Terrestrial, by “angels who are appointed to minister for them.” 5
- James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968], 83. In the 4th printing of this book (the 1962 printing) this quote is found on page 99.
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., p. 778.
- Mormon Doctrine, p. 420.
- John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.199.
- James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, p. 409.