A brother in our ward, when the subject matter allows, will quote a ’supposed’ statement by Joseph Smith, that when the saints get to the Celestial kingdom they will be surprised to find Catholics, Muslims, etc. there as well. I have never been able to find a quote anything even close to this. I understand that to obtain the Celestial kingdom requires baptism and confirmation (and the gift of the Holy Ghost) and so become members of the Mormon Church. Your help please.
David, from Nottingham, England
You are perfectly correct. The inhabitants of the three degrees of glory are well documented in Doctrine & Covenants, Section 76. Those who inherit the celestial kingdom are described in verses 50-52
And again we bear record–for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just– They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given– That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true. (D&C 76:50-53).
Verse 70, the last verse that describes those who come forth in the resurrection of the just, reads as follows—
These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.
—confirming that these verses are speaking of the celestial kingdom. So one group of people that will inherit the celestial kingdom are those who are baptized by immersion (baptized after the manner of his burial), who receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by requisite priesthood authority, and who overcome the world by faith–in other words, who live in obedience to all the laws and ordinances of the gospel. There is only one religious organization in our time that meets all the criteria required for entrance into the celestial kingdom, and that organization is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
However, there is yet another group who are also qualified to live throughout eternity in the celestial kingdom, and they are described in Doctrine & Covenants 137:10—
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.
Let us hasten to state that there are many, many good people who live the moral law, who love the Lord, but who do not really know who He is, having been blinded by the precepts of men. These good people, not having taken upon themselves the covenants administered by God’s authorized servants, will inhered not the celestial kingdom, but a kingdom of a lower glory, even a terrestrial kingdom. They are described in Section 76 as—
These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness. These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father. Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun. (Doctrine & Covenants 76:75-78)
So you can rest assured, from the words of the holy scriptures that other than the little children who die before the age of accountability, the only ones who will live a celestial glory in the celestial kingdom of God, where God and Christ dwell, are those of all ages who have made sacred covenants of obedience to the Lord, administered by the holy priesthood, and who live by and in accordance with all the covenants that they have made.