Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Debunking The Mormon Teaching Of Human Souls Being Preexistent

        “Before you were born on the earth, you lived in the presence of your Heavenly Father as one of his spirit children.” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, p. 115)

        In Genesis 2:7, we are told that God created Adam from the dust of the earth. He was not a pre-existing soul. Rather, he had life breathed into him. That is the precise moment when Adam's life began. He did not exist prior to walking in the Garden of Eden.

        In Genesis 5:3, we are told that Adam had a son in his own image and likeness named Seth. Thus, he had life breathed into him just as did his father. Seth never existed in the form of a disembodied soul prior to his birth.

       In 1 Corinthians 15:46-47, the Apostle Paul states that our physical birth takes place prior to our spiritual birth. This is contrary to the idea of our souls being pre-existent. God breathed life into man when he was created from the dust of the ground, not put already existing souls into bodies.

       Jesus Christ as God existed eternally with the Father. He took on flesh to make atonement for our sins. If our souls are pre-existent, then that would compromise the uniqueness of Christ. There would be no basis for Him to appeal to His pre-existence as a special qualification (John 8:56-58). The response to Christ's claims of being God points to a general absence of belief in all human souls being pre-existent amongst Jews of His day (John 8:59).

         Blake T. Ostler notes the following regarding the absence of belief in the preexistence of human souls amongst the earliest followers of Mormonism:

       "The earliest Mormon publications defined God—in terms borrowed from contemporary orthodox Christianity—as the sole and necessary basis of all existence.2 [See, for example, Apostle Parley P. Pratt’s statement that at death the human spirit “return[s] to the fountain and become[s] part of the great all from which [it] emanated,” in Parker Pratt Robinson, Writings of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Robinson, 1952), 216.] The concept of a preexistence either in the sense of eternal, uncreated spirits co-existing with God or as spirit offspring of God did not exist in early Mormon thought. The Book of Mormon assumed that human existence depended entirely upon God (see, for example, Mos. 2:20-21). When the premortal Lord revealed his finger to the brother of Jared, he explained that humans were created “in the beginning after mine own image … after the body of my spirit” (Eth. 3:15-16), implying that human, physical bodies resemble God’s spiritual body. In contrast, orthodox Christianity interpreted “image and likeness” (Gen. 1:26) [p.128]to mean humankind’s moral capacities, not its physical attributes. The seeds, at least, of anthropomorphism and of co-existence of humans with God were thus planted in Mormon thought in the Book of Mormon notion of creation after the image of God’s spiritual body."

        The same cited source also said the following regarding the pre-existence of man being foreign to early Mormon thought:

        "The classical gulf between God and his mortal creations entailed in the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo was accepted without revision in the official Mormon publication The Evening and the Morning Star in October 1832: “The Creator, who having created our souls at first by an act of his will can either eternally preserve them or absolutely annihilate them” (p. 77). Humans were thus contingent beings who did not exist prior to their creation by God—either as body or as spirit—and could lapse into non-being if God willed it. A letter in the May 1835 Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate echoed a similar belief: “Man is dependent on the great first cause and is constantly upheld by Him, therefore justly amenable to him” (p. 113)."


Marshal Art said...

Just a note: I've added you to my blogroll.

Jesse Albrecht said...

Thanks, Marshal Art.

Thaddeus said...

Hi Jesse,
As someone, who's been evangelising the culs for almost 40 years, in Ireland and the UK, I thought this piece was very incisive and well constructed. If it's possible, could I add just 2 verses that would support this excellent piece, not as an improvement, but merely a consideration. I'd be interest in your thoughts.
The first verse is from the Old Testament: "The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him." (Zechariah 12:1 - KJV). THe last part of the verses speaks of the spirit of man being formed within his - the idea being that the body came first, and then the spirit.
The second verse is from the New Testament, which clarifies this further, and is from 1 Corinthians 15:46: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. " This supports the verse from Zechariah that the spirit came second (created), and the body first.
What do you think?


Glenn E. Chatfield said...


In regards to Zech 12:1, I think you have it a wee bit wrong. Not that the body was formed first, but that the spirit was imbued in the human from conception. The spirit is as much a part of the human as is the heart.