Scriptural evidence for "pre-mortal existence". Is there any?


#1

It seems that at the heart of the differences between many Mormon and traditional Christian beliefs lies the doctrine of pre-mortal existence; the idea that we have co-existed from eternity with God as eternal “intelligences” who then become “spirit children” of God and then came to earth to take on human flesh in order to begin the process of exaltation for the final purpose of becoming gods ourselves. Within this doctrine is also the belief that even inert matter is co-eternal with God, having no beginning. This doctrine is so basic to Mormon thought that it governs nearly all of its subsequent theology and is the cause, in my opinion, of much misunderstanding. If I have mis-stated anything here I am open to correction.

My question is this. Where in biblical Scripture is there any evidence of this? The best I can find are verses such as “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations.” (Jer 1:5). It does not appear though, that this conveyed the meaning held by the LDS Church to anyone but the LDS, rather it is interpreted by most Christians to mean that God is omniscient, or “all knowing”.

Since this doctrine is so basic to Mormon theology, and so oppossed to traditional Christian theology, I thought it was worth discussion.


02 - Scriptural evidence for "pre-mortal existence". Is there any?
#2

There is Mormon scriptural evidence that support the pre-existence of souls....as I understand...it was a controversy in the early church....IMO due to some Gnostic teachings which existed along side more "orthodox" teachings in many congregations...the "emerging Catholic church" even condemned the belief if I remember correctly.

Oriegin was one of it's chief proponents...but was called "heretic" I believe later.

In Genesis, the JST says...."For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. . . . And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air; But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word. (Book of Moses 3:5-7. June – October 1830)

Coupled with the "light" of latter day revelation...now those obscure passages that could be read as speaking to the pre-existence of souls now seem much "clearer".


#3

Thanks, Publisher. I am aware that it appears in “Mormon Scripture”, but that convinces no one but Mormons who already believe it. Does it not seem strange that if it is true, that such a basic dogma would not have been expressly stated by the Apostles, somewhere? There are some ancillary issues that arise also. If premortal intelligences and matter are co-eternal with God, does that not then make God dependent on them in order to create, which in turn speaks against his omnipotence? The idea that God is all-powerful is found throughout the Scriptures, in which case that idea cannot co-exist with the idea of co-eternal intelligences and matter.


#4

Another "latter day scripture" teaching the pre-mortal existence...."Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. . . . For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy. (D&C 93:29, 33).


#5

Nope; Scripture states that God "forms the spirit of man within him", that is, within the body.

In 1 Corinthians, S. Paul states the "natural" comes first; then the spiritual. There is no spiritual life prior to the natural life; the body comes first.

Apart from the Book of Mormon, there is no support for a human being's premortal existence.

ICXC NIKA


#6

[quote="Publisher, post:2, topic:262472"]
There is Mormon scriptural evidence that support the pre-existence of souls....as I understand...it was a controversy in the early church....IMO due to some Gnostic teachings which existed along side more "orthodox" teachings in many congregations...the "emerging Catholic church" even condemned the belief if I remember correctly.

Oriegin was one of it's chief proponents...but was called "heretic" I believe later.

In Genesis, the JST says...."For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. . . . And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air; But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word. (Book of Moses 3:5-7. June – October 1830)

Coupled with the "light" of latter day revelation...now those obscure passages that could be read as speaking to the pre-existence of souls now seem much "clearer".

[/quote]

Somehow, I think Steve is looking for proof in actual scripture from the Bible to support that LDS theological belief, so I doubt you could offer Joseph Smith's personal writings from 1830 as something to support itself. It's obvious that his own writings are where the belief comes from to begin with, and it's not exactly considered to be 'scripture' by anyone else in Christianity, except LDS. Would you really consider that to be actual scripture? :confused:


#7

[quote="SteveVH, post:1, topic:262472"]
It seems that at the heart of the differences between many Mormon and traditional Christian beliefs lies the doctrine of pre-mortal existence; the idea that we have co-existed from eternity with God as eternal "intelligences" who then become "spirit children" of God and then came to earth to take on human flesh in order to begin the process of exaltation for the final purpose of becoming gods ourselves. Within this doctrine is also the belief that even inert matter is co-eternal with God, having no beginning. This doctrine is so basic to Mormon thought that it governs nearly all of its subsequent theology and is the cause, in my opinion, of much misunderstanding. If I have mis-stated anything here I am open to correction.

My question is this. Where in biblical Scripture is there any evidence of this? The best I can find are verses such as "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations." (Jer 1:5). It does not appear though, that this conveyed the meaning held by the LDS Church to anyone but the LDS, rather it is interpreted by most Christians to mean that God is omniscient, or "all knowing".

Since this doctrine is so basic to Mormon theology, and so oppossed to traditional Christian theology, I thought it was worth discussion.

[/quote]

Plato said the same and many greeks.
The answer is no. Not worth discussing.


#8

Yes, actually I was looking for evidence within biblical Scripture, but I think Publisher is just trying to show where the belief originated; why they believe what they do. It will be perfectly natural for a Mormon poster to point us in the direction of “Mormon scripture” since they believe it is scripture. Beyond the lack of evidence in biblical Scripture, however, as I pointed out it begins to cause problems when we speak of God’s omnipotence, which is something that Mormons say they believe, but, in my opinion, directly conflicts with the iedea of co-eternal intelligences and co-eternal matter. They believe that these had no origin, they have just always existed, as the quotes from Publisher show. I am interested in why this does not cause a problem for Mormons.


#9

[quote="Telstar, post:6, topic:262472"]
Somehow, I think Steve is looking for proof in actual scripture from the Bible to support that LDS theological belief, so I doubt you could offer Joseph Smith's personal writings from 1830 as something to support itself. It's obvious that his own writings are where the belief comes from to begin with, and it's not exactly considered to be 'scripture' by anyone else in Christianity, except LDS. Would you really consider that to be actual scripture? :confused:

[/quote]

I think he's looking for prrof in the bible that contradicts LDS theology on this subject. To the best of my knowledge there is no explicit scripture that clarifies God creates a soul at the moment of conception.

I just skimmed 1 Corinthians and see no relevance to the question of when God creates a soul.


#10

Well, then you are certainly free not to discuss it.


#11

There is actually another scripture reference in the Bible, look for Job 38:4-7
Where wast thou when i laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?or who hath stretched the line upon it? whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?


#12

[quote="Telstar, post:6, topic:262472"]
Somehow, I think Steve is looking for proof in actual scripture from the Bible to support that LDS theological belief, so I doubt you could offer Joseph Smith's personal writings from 1830 as something to support itself. It's obvious that his own writings are where the belief comes from to begin with, and it's not exactly considered to be 'scripture' by anyone else in Christianity, except LDS. Would you really consider that to be actual scripture? :confused:

[/quote]

If one is expecting LDS to "prove" their beliefs from one book of scripture to the exclusion of other books of scripture....what THEY would consider scripture....that is like Protestants saying the Catholic church must prove all it's beliefs using scripture only...as had been said often all Catholic "distinct" beliefs can be read as "implied" in scripture if not "implicitly stated".....using latter day revelation in a similar matter Catholics use "sacred tradition" to "flesh out" those "obscure passages" in scripture which "implies" a distinctive Catholic belief.

Whether I consider the books of Joseph Smith scripture or not is not what was being asked IMO....."What scriptural evidence....".....Mormons have "scriptural evidence" at their disposal....problem....those not of LDS faith do not consider them "scripture".....is pre-existence "implicitly" taught in accepted Bible scripture?...No....are there verses which "imply" the pre-existence of the soul...Yes...and it's acceptance and rejection has been documented from the earliest days of the "proto-Orthodox/Catholic" group of Christians.


#13

Thanks for your response, Tony. You are correct in your assumption, but this is not for the purpose of necessarily contradicting you. I am of the opinion, as is the Catholic Church, that not everything is found in the Bible. The importance of the question really has to do with this doctrine being a foundational Mormon belief on which all else is based. It just seems to me that if this is the case that we would see at least something written about it in the Bible; kind of a big thing to just be left out altogether.

I would be interested, however, in your thoughts concerning how this belief affects the idea of God’s omnipotence; the idea that God did not create everything ex nihilo, but was rather dependent upon co-existing matter and intelligences in order to “organize” the universe and everything in it. Do these two ideas not conflict?

Thanks.


#14

SteveVH,

The major citations have been given, I see, and I'll add one, (but bear in mind that since this life is a purposeful situation where not only is faith the operative concept, but also free will choice, then it would nullify God's purpose for Him decrease the need for faith by having a "proof" in the Bible about your question):

John 9: 1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

8 ¶The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

13 ¶They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.

29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?


#15

[quote="Elijah121, post:11, topic:262472"]
There is actually another scripture reference in the Bible, look for Job 38:4-7
Where wast thou when i laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?or who hath stretched the line upon it? whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

[/quote]

Good one! The notes in my NAB say that "sons of God" means angels, but if I were Mormon I would have definitely dug this one out.


#16

Thanks Parker, but you have lost me here. Where does any of this refer to existing before the womb? Maybe I’m just missing it. And as for your first comment which implies that God purposefully left this out so that we could have faith, I just find that a strange notion. Having faith requires that we have something in which to have faith, which means that it must first be revealed to us. Could we have faith in Christ if he had not been revealed to us? And if it was God’s desire that it not be included, so that we would be forced to use our faith, then why would he have revealed it later to Joseph Smith?


#17

Thank you i learned about this scripture in seminary a long time ago. What the “NAB”?


#18

[quote="SteveVH, post:16, topic:262472"]
Thanks Parker, but you have lost me here. Where does any of this refer to existing before the womb? Maybe I'm just missing it. And as for your first comment which implies that God purposefully left this out so that we could have faith, I just find that a strange notion. Having faith requires that we have something in which to have faith, which means that it must first be revealed to us. Could we have faith in Christ if he had not been revealed to us? And if it was God's desire that it not be included, so that we would be forced to use our faith, then why would he have revealed it later to Joseph Smith?

[/quote]

For a man to have been born blind.....and the FACT he was born blind was an indication that he had sinned......when did he sin? The questioners were understanding that the man born blind had sinned in some way and his blindness was punishment for that sin....unless one had the capacity ot sin in the pre-existence....what sense did the question make in the first place?


#19

[quote="Elijah121, post:17, topic:262472"]
Thank you i learned about this scripture in seminary a long time ago. What the "NAB"?

[/quote]

New American Bible. I think there are better translations out there, but it is the official Catholic translation used in the USA. I hope they choose something else soon; I hear that they are working on it. Nevertheless, I believe "sons of God" doesn't vary in translation.


#20

SteveVH,

The words I underlined in John 9 show an underlying belief held by the Jews, including the apostles, for them to have asked the question they asked, and for the Jews to react the way they reacted at the end of the chapter.

“Revealed to us” is the key, and means personal revelation needs to be involved in getting the answer, which is what God wants.

As far as the Joseph Smith part, since he received the knowledge from Moses and Abraham, but by revelation and not by the existing Bible, then I would say that God was both teaching the pattern for gaining knowledge from Him, and that God’s plan of salvation included allowing the wide range of beliefs in the world for a wider range of free will choice and thus a higher need for the faith necessary to receive personal revelation rather than rely on someone else or on a book. Latter-day Saints have just as much need to learn about personal revelation as anyone else.


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