Is There Equality in the Heavens?
by Christian Y. Cardall
Frank asked, “So which matters more, inequality or poverty?” Russell seized on one phrase of my answer: “Let’s face it. Equality is not a value of the heavens.” Citing several proof-texts, he said I was “totally, spectacularly, and ridiculously wrong.” I’ll admit my response was a bit flippant, but if I’m going to be that wrong, let’s not hold back! For the sake of argument, in the venerable spirit of Bible-bashing I’ll cite a couple of other scriptures in response—if only to dig myself in deeper, and maybe learn something in the process.
In eternity, capacities and opportunities to build kingdoms will be exercised, and this requires ‘capital’ in some broad sense, for which the scriptures do not guarantee ‘equality’ as this term is often conceptualized. My original statement referred not to one’s relationship to God—which, as Russell pointed out, would be irrelevant—but instead to “degrees of glory,” as I said in my original answer. I was thinking along the lines of “an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory” not available to all; and even beyond that, highlighting ‘inequalities’ even among those who are “true and faithful,” the parable of the talents. Note that even the profitable servants did not at either the beginning or end of the parable have the same amount, but each received and produced according to their capacity. (I suppose a philosophy of eternal beings that are 'uncreated unequal' underpins this, cf. Abraham 3).
What did equality come to mean with Joseph and Brigham in practice? They had by far the most ‘capital’ (wealth, lands, wives, authority, etc.). Presumably this was because they were most capacitated to do something worthwhile with it. In this light, the scriptures Russell cited might be interpreted in a couple of different ways. (1) They might involve early conceptions of a young, naive, immature Joseph, idealistic in a manner simply not consistent with reality. The latest scripture Russell cited was recorded in 1832. (2) The scriptural sense of ‘equality’ might mean not that everyone has the same amount of ‘stuff’ or ‘capital,’ but instead a condition in which the various grades of intelligences have access to the resources necessary to reach their full potential, and therefore maximize the benefit they can be to others, and therefore maximize the general welfare and prosperity.