Mormons and the Pre-existance

Were we alive as spirits just prior to our entry into mortality?

Are we spirits just created at the moment of entry into a body?

Ive heard of many NDE’s were people commented about spirits going down to enter a body from heaven, and having known others prior to birth in this mortal life.

This is my very first post in this forum, which is very new. I been listening to Catholic Answers for several years now on EWTN

You know, I’ve really never thought about this. I know from the Bible that before we were formed in the womb God knew us. But I have no idea whether that equates to our spirits being formed prior to conception.

Forgive me for saying this, but don’t the mormons have some other fairly strange beliefs? If I recall, they also believe that, upon death, those souls who enter heaven…have the potential to be spiritually equal to or even greater than God. On the surface the Mormon church seems to be a fairly harmless religion but some of their beliefs would be very hard to grasp.

Pope Vigilius signed a document that declared Origin’s teachings regarding the pre-existence of spirits as heresy. I believe this was a canonical statement from the Second Council of Constantinople. This would mean (as I understand it) that Catholics do not believe that Spirit’s pre-existed.

Augustine (I think) taught that God created the Spirit before birth (I am pretty sure a conception).

I do not think there is room for a Catholic it believe in the pre-existence of spirits.

And, stevem1, LDS do not believe that we can be equal to God. LDS believe that we are to become gods through God. There is no “hyper-Pelagism” were by we merit godhood. Christ became what we are that we might become what He is. We call this deification and say that we become gods, but it is through Christ’s work in our lives that this is possible.

Charity, TOm

[quote=TOmNossor]Pope Vigilius signed a document that declared Origin’s teachings regarding the pre-existence of spirits as heresy. I believe this was a canonical statement from the Second Council of Constantinople. This would mean (as I understand it) that Catholics do not believe that Spirit’s pre-existed.
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Hello Tom. I think you are a bit confused about Vigilius and Origen. The vast majority of Catholic scholars are convinced that the so-called “15 anathemas against Origen” were not included in the original decrees of the fifth Ecumenical Council (Second Council of Constantinople). Note the following:

Were Origen and Origenism anathematized? Many learned writers believe so; an equal number deny that they were condemned; most modern authorities are either undecided or reply with reservations. Relying on the most recent studies on the question it may be held that: (1) It is certain that the fifth general council was convoked exclusively to deal with the affair of the Three Chapters, and that neither Origen nor Origenism were the cause of it. (2) It is certain that the council opened on 5 May, 553, in spite of the protestations of Pope Vigilius, who though at Constantinople refused to attend it, and that in the eight conciliary sessions (from 5 May to 2 June), the Acts of which we possess, only the question of the Three Chapters is treated.

(3) Finally it is certain that only the Acts concerning the affair of the Three Chapters were submitted to the pope for his approval, which was given on 8 December, 553, and 23 February, 554. (4) It is a fact that Popes Vigilius, Pelagius I (556-61), Pelagius II (579-90), Gregory the Great (590-604), in treating of the fifth council deal only with the Three Chapters, make no mention of Origenism, and speak as if they did not know of its condemnation. (5) It must be admitted that before the opening of the council, which had been delayed by the resistance of the pope, the bishops already assembled at Constantinople had to consider, by order of the emperor, a form of Origenism that had practically nothing in common with Origen, but which was held, we know, by one of the Origenist parties in Palestine. The arguments in corroboration of this hypothesis may be found in Dickamp (op. cit., 66-141). (6) The bishops certainly subscribed to the fifteen anathemas proposed by the emperor (ibid., 90-96); and admitted Origenist, Theodore of Scythopolis, was forced to retract (ibid., 125-129); but there is no proof that the approbation of the pope, who was at that time protesting against the convocation of the council, was asked. (7) It is easy to understand how this extra-conciliary sentence was mistaken at a later period for a decree of the actual ecumenical council. (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XI, pp. 311, 312.)

And:

The council did not debate ecclesiastical discipline nor did it issue disciplinary canons. Our edition does not include the text of the anathemas against Origen since recent studies have shown that these anathemas cannot be attributed to this council. (Norman P. Tanner, S.J., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 1 pp. 105, 106.)

Finally:

It is most certainly improbable that the fifth Ecumenical Council drew up fifteen anathematisms against Origen, since the celebrated Origenist, Theodore Ascidas, was not only present at this Council, but was of the greatest influence there, and in fact, was the real originator of it. (Charles Joseph Hefele, A History of the Councils of The Church. Vol. IV, p 224.)

Grace and peace.

Aug

If you’re wondering about the Mormon point of view on pre-existance, then yes, they do believe we were alive before being born on earth. This is from their book True to the Faith pg. 115.

Premortal Life
Before you were born on the earth, you lived in the presence of your Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children. In this premortal existence, you attended a council with Heavenly Father’s other spirit children. At that council, Heavenly Father presented His great plan of happiness (see Abraham 3:22-26).

In harmony with the plan of happiness, the premortal Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of the Father in the spirit, covenanted to be the Savior (see Moses 4:2; Abraham 3:27). Those who followed Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were permitted to come to the earth to experience mortality and progress toward eternal life. Lucifer, another spirit son of God, rebelled against the plan and “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality (see Moses 4:4; Abraham 3:27-28).

Throughout your premortal life, you developed your identity and increased your spiritual capabilities. Blessed with the gift of agency, you made important decisions, such as the decision to follow Heavenly Father’s plan. These decisions affected your life then and now. You grew in intelligence and learned to love the truth, and you prepared to come to the earth, where you could continue to progress.

Hello Aug,

Confused I am! Thank you for clarification.

So the fifth EC does not seem to have embraced the 15 anathemas associated with the earlier Constantinopolitan synod, held in 544. The first anathema being, “If anyone assert the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows it, let him be anathema.”
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*I assume there is some difference of opinion still existing on these matters, but from wondering about I am inclined to agree that what you are stating here is most probable (not to mention the fact that you have prolly read much of this discussion in the past).

This would mean that in absence of other statements of ECs or some paragraphs from the CCC pre-existence of souls is a possible Catholic belief, correct?

Do you know of any restrictions on the belief in the pre-existence of souls in doctrinal sources?

Charity, TOm

[quote=TOmNossor]This would mean that in absence of other statements of ECs or some paragraphs from the CCC pre-existence of souls is a possible Catholic belief, correct?

Do you know of any restrictions on the belief in the pre-existence of souls in doctrinal sources?
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Hello again Tom,

I personally have not found any official (by official I mean infallible definitions) teachings in my readings that rules out the pre-existence of the soul. I know the vast majority of Catholic theologians rule it out, but they are not infallible .

There is an interesting passage from our Catholic scriptures that sure seems to teach pre-existence:

Wisdom 8:19,20 As a child I was naturally gifted, and a good soul fell to my lot; or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body.

Grace and peace,

Aug

[quote=AmandaPS]If you’re wondering about the Mormon point of view on pre-existance, then yes, they do believe we were alive before being born on earth. This is from their book True to the Faith pg. 115.
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AmandaPS,
Your quote from the book True to the Faith appears to be an excellent read on LDS doctrine (especially since it references LDS standard works, which are the source of LDS doctrine).

Thank you.
Charity, TOm

[quote=AugustineH354]Hello again Tom,

I personally have not found any official (by official I mean infallible definitions) teachings in my readings that rules out the pre-existence of the soul. I know the vast majority of Catholic theologians rule it out, but they are not infallible .

There is an interesting passage from our Catholic scriptures that sure seems to teach pre-existence:

Wisdom 8:19,20 As a child I was naturally gifted, and a good soul fell to my lot; or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body.

Grace and peace,

Aug
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Thanks again. You may create a stir with such statements, but that would just be more interesting.

Charity, TOm

Catechism of the Catholic Church 366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the final Resurrecton.

The soul does not pre-exist the body, but is created at conception.

As for Bible verses that imply the preexistence of souls, depending on how we twist them, we have to ask ourselves what the sacred writer meant to convey by his words, not just what the bare words themselves on a page mean to us centuries after they were written… Did the sacred writer of Wisdom intend to teach the preexistence of souls? The Church founded by Jesus Christ and instructed by His Apostles says NO.

Parsing words as if the Bible were written in English and reading it as if we happened upon it for the first time today – as if it had no historic meaning – is ludicrous.

Did the Jews whose Scriptures we read in the OT believe in preexistence of souls? NO. (So says the venerable old rabbi who taught me OT history.) Did the Apostles and the first Christians believe it? NO. Had Jesus taught it, would the Apostles have believed it and taught it to the Church? YES. “…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” Mt 28:20 KJV.

But they didn’t believe it because Jesus didn’t teach it. So forgedaboudit.:slight_smile: It’s a modern myth imposed upon the Scriptures.
The process is called eisogesis.

[quote=TOmNossor]AmandaPS,
Your quote from the book True to the Faith appears to be an excellent read on LDS doctrine (especially since it references LDS standard works, which are the source of LDS doctrine).

Thank you.
Charity, TOm
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Hello TOm,

I think in another thread, you mentioned that you were once a Latter-Day Saint? My apologies if I’m mistaken. I’m not sure how long you’ve been out of the LDS Church but the book True to the Faith was just recently published and can be found on their Gospel Library site. It’s in alphabetical order and seems to be a concise explanation of all the church teachings.

[quote=AmandaPS]Hello TOm,

I think in another thread, you mentioned that you were once a Latter-Day Saint? My apologies if I’m mistaken. I’m not sure how long you’ve been out of the LDS Church but the book True to the Faith was just recently published and can be found on their Gospel Library site. It’s in alphabetical order and seems to be a concise explanation of all the church teachings.
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Hello,
Actually, I am still a LDS. I am just buried under a mountain of other books and have not read this yet. It seems to be a good basic description of binding LDS doctrine, and the passage you sited reference scripture which is the source of LDS doctrine. Thank you for taking the time to let LDS speak for LDS.
Charity, TOm

Hello Katholikos,

You quoted the CCC to support your personal interpretation. Here is the quote again:

>>Catechism of the Catholic Church 366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the final Resurrection.>>

You then wrote:

K:>>The soul does not pre-exist the body, but is created at conception.>>

Aug: All the text says is that the “soul is created immediately by God”. One of the meanings of “immediately” is without mediation. In other words, God Himself creates all human souls without any mediation. Apart from denying that the human soul is produced by the parents, the text says nothing about the “when”. (Though I personally believe that it is probably at conception.)

Interestingly enough Popes Vigilius, Pelagius I, Pelagius II, and Gregory the Great (and the 5th Ecumenical Council) had the perfect opportunity to reject the doctrine of the pre-existence the soul, but refrained from doing so. Further, I know of no official Church ruling that does so. Perhaps you should show the same restraint as the above Popes…

K:>>Did the Jews whose Scriptures we read in the OT believe in preexistence of souls? NO. (So says the venerable old rabbi who taught me OT history.)>>

Aug: If you mean RABINNIC Judaism, I would agree. However, that was only one form Judaism in existence at the time of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Other Jews did in fact believe in the pre-existence of the soul.

K:>>Did the Apostles and the first Christians believe it? NO. Had Jesus taught it, would the Apostles have believed it and taught it to the Church? YES.>>

Aug: Well, St. Augustine states that in his time four views concerning the origin of the soul were being taught within the Catholic Church. Guess what one of them was…

Grace and peace,

Aug

One other little tidbit that might be of interest is that LDS could be said to believe that the soul is created at conception too.

D&C 88:15 - And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.

LDS authorities have regularly taught that the soul is not just the spirit, but the spirit and the body. This is prolly a confusing way of defining the terms to non-LDS Christians.

Charity, TOm

[quote=stevem1]Forgive me for saying this, but don’t the mormons have some other fairly strange beliefs? If I recall, they also believe that, upon death, those souls who enter heaven…have the potential to be spiritually equal to or even greater than God.
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As I understand the issue Mormons worship ONE God even though there are many gods/Celestials dwelling in the Celestial Kingdom who serve and worship ONE God also, the Father of us all.

Psalm 82:6 I have said, Ye [are] gods; and all of you [are] children of the most High.

One of the main problems with mormon belief is that God had a begining at one point. To say this is to say that something created God, which certainly would not make him sovereign.

[quote=Andyman1517]One of the main problems with mormon belief is that God had a begining at one point. To say this is to say that something created God, which certainly would not make him sovereign.
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Mormons, they prefer to be called Latter-day Saints, do not accept the teaching that God, the Father and God the Son are the same being, so the notion that something created God is answered by saying God the Father begot God the Son, a doctrine totally unacceptable in Catholic teaching but not necessarily wrong.

“For unto which of the angels (celestials/gods) said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” (Hebrews 1:5)

and

“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

I think the important thing to remember is that salvation is only achieved by calling on the name of Jesus Christ, belonging to this or that denomination is secondary. We are a part of the wider phenomenon of Christianity first, Churchianity is secondary in much the same way as John the Baptist was the forerunner.

Beloved, we should love one another, he who does not love does not know God.

I’ve been following this thread with some interest, to say the least. I’m not Catholic (at least, not yet); my beliefs are more accurately labeled as Hindu.

If the Second Council really did not say anything about pre-existence of the soul, then that means that there has been no conciliar decision on either pre-existence or reincarnation (and by “reincarnation”, I mean a theory of reincarnation that would be compatible with resurrection).

I was perusing the CAF site, and I found this:

Members of what is commonly called the “New Age” movement often claim that early Christians believed in reincarnation. Shirley MacLaine, an avid New Age disciple, recalls being taught: “The theory of reincarnation is recorded in the Bible. But the proper interpretations were struck from it during an ecumenical council meeting of the Catholic Church in Constantinople sometime around A.D. 553, called the Council of Nicaea sic]” (Out on a Limb, 234–35).

Historical facts provide no basis for this claim. In fact, there was no Council of Nicaea in A.D. 553. Further, the two ecumenical councils of Nicaea (A.D. 325 and A.D. 787) took place in the city of Nicaea (hence their names)—and neither dealt with reincarnation. What did take place in A.D. 553 was the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. But records from this Council show that it, too, did not address the subject of reincarnation. None of the early councils did.

The closest the Second Council of Constantinople came to addressing reincarnation was, in one sentence, to condemn Origen, an early Church writer who believed souls exist in heaven before coming to earth to be born. New Agers confuse this belief in the preexistence of the soul with reincarnation and claim that Origen was a reincarnationist. Actually, he was one of the most prolific early writers against reincarnation! Because he is so continually misrepresented by New Agers, we have included a number of his quotes below, along with passages from other sources, all of which date from before A.D. 553, when the doctrine of reincarnation was supposedly “taken out of the Bible.”

I’m tempted to say one could believe in not only pre-existence, but also a suitably modified form of reincarnation, and still be a good Catholic. I won’t actually say so: many Church Fathers spoke out against reincarnation, but not infallibly (right? or am I mistaken here?), and, in my opinion, they rejected certain versions of reincarnation, but not all. It does seem that there is some wiggle room in this area.

I have to say that if some version of reincarnation were at least theoretically possible within Catholicism (adherence to which might place on the border adjacent to heresy, but not over the line), that I would seriously consider becoming Catholic this very second.

Ahimsa

God Created us, and then breathed life into us. Mormon theology teaches that we did live in heaven before we came down to earth.
But they also teach that Jesus is Lucifers brother. This is what I to was taught at a very early age. Jesus, who is Jesus is the place to begin with those of the LDS faith. Because who Jesus is, is at the very center of what it means to be a Christian. I was taught Mormonism at a very early age. it was not until I was older that I found Christ. The only thing good in me is Him who breathed life into me. This is where I began to find peace. In good times as well as in bad.
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