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D. Rolling Kearney


administrated, the nature of the divide between the physical and spirit realms comes into question.

On a theoretical note, it can almost be argued that the physical and spirit realms are equivalent to the concept of separate dimensions. Through modern revelation, we are given to understand that the world of spirits exists right here on the earth alongside us, but it is kept from human perception and physical interaction. Joseph Smith taught:

“The spirits of the just… are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith.” 4

Also, Brigham Young stated the following in one of his discourses:

“Where is the spirit world? It is right here… Do [the spirits of the departed] go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not… Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies.” 5

While it is apparent that angels and resurrected persons are capable of traversing and interacting with both realms, it is also apparent that the few individuals who have been transfigured or “translated” (such as John the Beloved) are also capable of doing so prior to experiencing death and resurrection. (Further information about this concept is included in the supporting material 6.) In this state, they cannot be confined by the elements of the physical world, and possibly can enter and exit the spirit realm at will. Consider the words of Mormon in his abridgment of the book of Third Nephi in how he describes the transfiguration and resultant abilities of the Three Nephites (emphasis added) 7:

“And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things…. And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God. But it came to pass that they did again minister upon the face of the earth;…

“And now, whether they were mortal or immortal, from the day of their transfiguration, I know not; But this much I know, according to the record which hath been given—… they were cast into prison… and the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain. And they were cast down into the earth; but… they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them. And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm. And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm….



Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326


Widtsoe, John A. (1925) Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 577


Translation (or Transfiguration)

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3 Nephi 28:13, 15-22, 26-28, 30, 37, 39-40