Question for Orthodox

I’m having a discussion with a friend on the subject of pre-existance of human souls prior to the earthly life, which she firmly believes in. She claims that the Orthodox Church proclaims this to be true, which I didn’t think was so. She’s the type who often says things like, “Well, I have Orthodox friends and they think …” and considers that an open and shut case. I realize I probably wouldn’t be able to convince her even if she is wrong, but I was curious about the answer. And boy do I know where to go! So, do our Orthodox bretheran believe souls pre-exist the body? Yes? No? Is it considered a reasonable theological opinion that can’t be proven either way?

Nope. Never even heard that expressed by an Orthodox Christian before. I don’t know for sure if such a belief has been condemned or not, but I’ve yet to see someone express it.

The preexistence of souls is a belief which smacks of Origenism. In its extreme form (the eternal preexistence of souls), this belief was condemned by the fifth ecumenical council. In general, one is free either to believe in traducianism (that souls are generated through procreation) or creationism (that souls are created by God at conception), but not in the preexistence of souls.

That’s what I thought. :shrug:

But you know, she has some Orthodox friends who say…

“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.” - Seventh Ecumenical Council

Doesn’t get much clearer than that. Where you will sometimes get some discussion is as to whether this canon condemns universal salvation in itself or only in relation to Origen’s pre-existence of souls.

Its possible since souls never die.

God foreknows each and every person before their creation because God exists outside of our temporal existence. Time itself is part of God’s creation while God Himself simply is.
It may be that your friend misunderstands a reference to God knowing us before we have even existed, to somehow mean that we must preexist as souls before the creation of our bodies. We don’t, however.

But this has not been revealed to mankind. What has been revealed is that souls are created immediately. God, of course, has foreknowledge of them, but until He gives the Word, nothing exists.

I’m pretty sure we don’t teach that. Origen and maybe some figures believed in it but hte church as a whole has not believed in pre-existent souls. The only reason Origen believed in it was to explain our current state of fallenness, that we had sinned against God before we received bodies.

Maybe they meant Orthodox Judaism? :shrug:

Honestly this calls to mind Mormon teachings far more than Orthodox teachings.

This is what I was thinking. I know there are many practicing Jews that do believe in reincarnation.

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