Does the Bible support the LDS teaching of preexistence?
In this ongoing series, we attempt to answer questions from a searching Mormon.
Was there really no pre-existence? There seems to be substantial Biblical support as well as much western and eastern culture support in literature for it but I haven't talked to a Christian who believes in it.
Many different philosophical and religious teachings throughout the centuries have been presented to support a theory on the preexistence of man. A pre-mortal life is a central component to LDS teachings. "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," p. 115.) Mormonism teaches that spirits in the pre-mortal world who chose to follow Heavenly Father's plan of salvation are granted permission to receive a body on this earth to continue their eternal progress toward eternal life.
The Bible does not support the belief that humans preexist as spirit children. The Bible also does not teach that a Heavenly Father gives us bodies to come and eternally progress on this earth by gaining knowledge and making good decisions.
Some believe that Jeremiah 1:5 is a proof passage for the preexistence of man. However, when you read the verse in its context, there is greater support for proving that God is omniscient. Trying to understand how God works through time and space goes well beyond our human comprehension.
When coming to conclusions on what the Bible teaches to be true, it is always important to interpret the Bible correctly. For this reason, we must rely on the Bible to interpret itself. We do that by reading every verse in its context. By following this process, the Bible gives greater evidence to support the teaching that our souls were conceived at birth along with our bodies.
Consider the following:
"Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) "When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image." (Genesis 5:3) "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." (Job 33:4)
One noted Biblical source wrote, "In the beginning God didn't create disembodied souls and then form bodies to put them into. He did exactly the reverse—forming a body from the ground, and then breathing life into it."1
When the mysteries of God do not fully satisfy our human reasoning, focus instead on giving attention to what is most important -- our salvation.
The Bible is very clear on how to have a right relationship with God and receive a full pardon for our sins. Consider the following:
- The only way to be right with God is to meet His standard of holiness. We are to be perfect as God is perfect (Matt 5:48).
- Only one sin, mistake, or error will declare a person imperfect (James 2:10).
- Every imperfect person will suffer spiritual death from the consequences of sin and be judged imperfect (Romans 6:23) and inherit life eternal in outer darkness (Matthew 25:41).
- Jesus Christ, by His perfect obedience, became our substitute on the cross that satisfied the penalty of our sins (Hebrews 10:14). Faith receives the benefit of Christ's work and the status of being perfect despite being in a state of sin.
- The eternal benefit of being right with God is eternal life (Romans 6:23) Peace and joy are associated with trusting God's promises that we are forgiven of our sins.
Trying to figure out the complexities of creation and the omniscience of God should not serve as a roadblock for the one fundamental message that has a direct bearing on our eternal destiny.
The wonderful message of the Bible is very simple and profound. God is telling us, "Your sins are forgiven! Believe!"
For further reading, I recommend the following articles that contrast LDS theology with Biblical Christianity in a respectful manner on the subject of preexistence:
Questions from a Searching Mormon Series
- The Godhead- the LDS perspective makes the most sense. Why did Christ cry out and pray to his father even calling him "Abba" in desperation and why was he called the son of God if he was God? Who is God? 2. Why have I had so many spiritual experience reading the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenant and Pearl of Great Price? 3. Why do most Christian churches I have attended the last year seem so messy and broken? 4. How could temple worship be wrong? It seems so selfless. 5. Is the plan of salvation wrong? 6. Was there really no pre-existence? There seems to be substantial Biblical support as well as much western and eastern culture support in literature for it but I haven't talked to a Christian who believes in it. 7. What is the relationship of families eternally? 8. Are we children of God? If so how? 9. Who is Satan, how is he associated with God and what role does he play?