Who goes to Outer Darkness, a handy guide

In my last post, I claimed that I might be a candidate for outer darkness.  A lot of people wanted a source on that.  As with anything in Mormon doctrine, there’s a lot of confusion, contradictory information and just all around ignoring a topic that should be as simple as asking a question and getting an answer.  So I thought I’d get it all out there in one simple post.

In Christianity, it is understood that anyone who denies the holy spirit goes to outer darkness, but they see it as a synonym for “Hell”.  There was a movement a few years ago to have people deny the holy spirit on Youtube, where many a youtuber claimed they would now go to Outer Darkness.

In the D&C, the definition of those who go to Outer Darkness is stated as:

the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof;Nevertheless, I, the Lord, show it by vision unto many, but straightway shut it up again; Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation (D&C 76:45-48).

Which means that really, no one knows anything about this.  It’s just “Scary bad”.  But as with anything, that doesn’t stop prophets from talking about it like they knew.


Mormon Wiki, for example has a pretty specific definition of who doesn’t go there but lacks any citations:

Sons of Perdition as those few souls who have been born on this earth who “have been made partakers” of God’s power, yet “suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy” God by denying the Holy Spirit after having received it, denying the Only Begotten Son and “put him to an open shame.” They openly and knowingly fight against God and Christ, having sided with Satan even though they had once tasted of full gospel knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost….There are those who fear that they have committed the “unpardonable sin,” because they have not been faithful members of the Church. It must be emphasized that the witness described means that the person has had the heavens opened unto him and has personally seen, and even spoken with, the Savior, and then has turned against Him, bringing him to open shame. Cain is a Son of Perdition. He had a sure witness of the Lord and willfully chose to follow Satan instead.

Okay, so Cain, we have one guaranteed person… according to no citation whatsoever.

Even the regular Wikipedia seems confused:

Sons of Perdition are: The pre-mortal spirit followers of Satan. It is taught that, in the pre-mortal life, they chose to follow a plan proposed by Satan, rather than that presented by God the Father. Thus ensued the War in Heaven, which resulted in Satan and his followers being cast out of heaven and denied the opportunity of receiving a physical body.

Are the devils before the world created sons of perdition?  Possibly but there is no citation there either.  So I found one, by Joseph F. Smith

Thus we see that the first death which came into the world is also the last death which shall be pronounced upon the sons of perdition. What is it? Banishment from the presence of God. Banishment from the power of God. Banishment from the glory of God. Banishment from the joys of heaven. Banishment from all progress. Banishment into outer darkness. (Joseph F. Smith, “The Second Death,” in Brian H. Stuy (editor), Collected Discourses: Delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, the twelve apostles, and others, 1868–1898, 5 vols., (Woodland Hills, Utah: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987–1989), 4:227–228. [Discourse given on 20 January 1895.] )

Okay so clearly we have billions of souls who qualify as “perdition” and go to outer darkness according to one prophet… in his personal books and not officially speaking as a prophet.  Hmmm..

Here are some actual quotes:

“I doubt whether it can be found, from the revelations that are given and the facts as they exist, that there is a female in all the regions of hell.” – Brigham Young Journal of Discourses 8:222.

“Woman must atone for sins committed by the volition of her own choice, but she will never become an angel to the devil, and sin so far as to place herself beyond the reach of mercy.” – Brigham Young Discourse delivered October 8, 1861, pp. 6–7, LDS Church Archives.

So we can clearly state no women are “Sons of Perdition” in outer darkness.  But wait! what about that 1/3 the host of heaven who didn’t follow God’s plan Joseph F. Smith was so sure qualify as “Sons of Perdition”… were NONE of them women?  Let’s go to modern revelation:

 “that there would be no daughters of perdition.” – Joseph F. Smith Stan Larsen, ed., A Ministry of Meetings: The Diaries of Rudger Clawson, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Smith Associates and Signature Books, 1993) p. 560

Somebody called me up on the telephone and asked if there were daughters of perdition. I said: “I don’t know” and he said, “How can I find out—I just called Spencer Kimball and he told me he didn’t know either. – (Elder Bruce R. McConkie “Mormon Doctrine Lecture, #2,” Brigham Young University, 1967.)

Clearly no women… oh wait

“That there will also be daughters of Perdition there is no doubt in the minds of the brethren”. – Wilford Woodruff in a meeting with the apostles, 1893 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997) p. 795.


So the prophet, meeting with apostles is clear on this, there are women.  But unofficial prophets speaking at BYU or in their own books say no, except Brigham in the Journal of Discourses which is unofficial.  Clear as mud.

Can someone get out of this state of Perdition once they are in it?

Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie have rejected the idea that those in perdition can ultimately be redeemed, which contradicts Brigham’s speculations. (See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 31.; Bruce R. McConkie, “Seven Deadly Heresies,” 1 June 1980, BYU Marriot Center.)

So lets turn to that bastion of all wisdom that Jeremy Runnells was blamed for not believing and turning to with questions:  FAIRMormon:

The church has no official position on this issue

Ah yes, well with clarity like that, why would Jeremy ever doubt them and ask for official sources!  FAIRMormon says on this page even:

When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not “moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” unless he is acting under the direction and by the authority of the President. (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “Church Leaders and the Scriptures,” [original title “When Are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?”] Immortality and Eternal Life: Reflections from the Writings and Messages of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Vol, 2, (1969-70): 221; address to Seminary and Institute Teachers, BYU (7 July 1954); reproduced in Church News (31 July 1954); also reprinted in Dialogue 12/2 (Summer 1979): 68–81.)

So only a prophet can put the matter to rest… well, that’s nice that Brigham said there were no women, Joseph F. said there were no women, but Wilford Woodruff said there was no debate and there must be women.  And the definition contains all of the pre-mortal spirits who followed Lucifer, which would imply that God created a lot more male spirits than women spirits and maybe that’s why there was a war in Heaven.  Polygamy with tons more men than women… sounds ill-thought out.

Well that’s wrapped up as long as no other prophets said… oh.  Oh yes they did:

“after a man has sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him…like many of the apostates of Christ’of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They go too far, and the Spirit leaves them…You can’t renew them to repentanc–you cannot save them.” (Joseph Smith Jr., King Follett Discourse)

So apostates from the church are clearly included in this list.  And as such I would qualify.  And since we know that prophets speaking define it, this is the definition we should use.

Joseph restated that anyone who apostatized from the church was a son of perdition in a poem for W.W. Phelps

 “Sons of Perdition” as those who are “ever lost, and can never return to the presence of God,” the poem declared that such is “the torment apostates receive.” (Joseph Smith, “The Answer to W.W. Phelps, Esq. A Vision,” Times and Seasons 4 (1 Feb 1843) 6:82-5. See Michael Hicks, “Joseph Smith, W.W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of ‘The Vision,’” Journal of Mormon History 20 (Fall 1994) 2: 63-84 for discussion of authorship of this poem.)

Also, Joseph confuses things further by combining words typically used with “Hell” to describe outer darkness:

A sinner has his own mind and his own mind damns him. He is damned by mortification and is his own condemner and tormenter. Hence the saying: They will go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. I have no fear of hell fire, that doesn’t exist, but the torment and disappointment of the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone—so is the torment of man. (-Joseph Smith in the “King Follett Discourse”)

There is my definition I used in my previous post.  “Many of the apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.  Sorry ladies, you can’t actually apostatize from the church, I guess (Someone tell Kate Kelly her excommunication is not valid!)


So there you go, the souls who end up in Outer Darkness are clearly apostates, or not. Women or not.  Cannot be saved at the last day; except W.W. Phelps who was classified as such by Joseph and then redeemed, and we should only trust prophets on the matter because they don’t conflict, unless they do.

And remember you can be excommunicated for asking church leaders to give solid answers so trust the apologists who say to only trust the prophets on matters like this. Also God says no one knows in scripture, so stop asking; but He also said in scripture that He “upbraideth not” those who have questions and if you ask “it shall be opened unto you”.

Clearly, when it comes to perdition and outer darkness, I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me, and anyone who speaks on the matter has a dizzying intellect.

Other sources used in composing this topic:

How populous is Outer Darkness?






This entry was posted in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink.
Last edited by Mithryn on April 25, 2016 at 5:02 pm

3 Responses to Who goes to Outer Darkness, a handy guide

  1. Melani says:

    WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL ANGELS WHO ARE INCAPABLE OF SINNING. Because reasons. And that’s why men alone get, I mean need the priesthood. GOSH.

  2. Pingback: The Shunning Key by bwv549 - Mormon Bandwagon

  3. Adam says:

    The Lord said “no man knoweth”… So, there’s probably a good reason that there is some debate and confusion on it. We probably do not want to know how horrible it is just like in this life, some things that are so horrible that happen (especially to children) we’d rather not know about it, if possible.

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