Friday, January 15, 2010

Does the Bible Teach a Pre-existence of Our Spirit?

Protestantism and Catholicism teach that we came into existence, as a being, somewhere between conception and birth. They conclude that our inner being is an invention by God.

In support of this claim they will quote Gen 2:7 _

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

They claim that the word "soul" must mean our inner being. However a look at Gen 19:19-20 brings this into doubt. Here we have Lot being told to flee before the destruction of the whole area and all cities within. Lot says _

"Look now, your servant [me] has found grace in your sight, and you have magnified your mercy, which you have shown to me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, in case some evil takes me, and I die: Look now, this city is near for me to flee to, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape there, (isn't it only a little one?) and my soul shall live."

So lot has been worried that he would be killed if going to the mountain. And requests refuge in a small city so his SOUL shall live. Obviously he's saying his soul includes his body. Therefore the quote in Gen 2:7 can't be used to claim the invention of our inner being, but only the beginning of a living human: One that dies at death.

Also note that Abraham asked Sarah, his wife, to say she was his sister so that he wouldn't be killed when they went to Egypt _

"Say, I pray you, that you are my sister: so that it may be well with me for your sake; and my soul shall live because of you."

This is also pointing out that the soul would die if he were killed. Yet our inner being goes on after death. So only we as a human being have come into existence between conception and birth, not our spirit.

Looking at the Bible, then, what does it say in regard to when we, as an entity, began to exist?

I've not found the Bible giving us an answer on that. But it does state that we existed before coming here. There are several texts that clearly demonstrate that man existed before. So often quoted we see the one in Jeremiah.

"Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jer 1:5

Now note that it doesn't say that God knew OF him before he was formed in the belly, but that he KNEW him. He also states that Jeremiah had actually had an ordination before this. And also sanctified. - Hard to ordain a non-existence.

It should be pointed out in looking at this subject that we shouldn't be coming to the subject with the doctrine that we didn't exist before, and then having to show great demonstration that we did. We should be coming to the subject with an open and inquiring mind to find out what the Bible actually teaches concerning this subject: When did we come into existence according to the Bible.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Rom 8:29

Again here we are informed that God knew people before they were born. Now why bother to say such a thing if we didn't exist then? And note, once more he hasn't stated that he knew of them, but that he knew them.

"And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared to glory. Even us..." Rom 9:23-24

Here he has stated that before coming here he had in some way PREPARED us for glory. A difficult thing to do if we didn't exist.

But these texts are just the warm-ups. This next statement of the disciples leaves no doubt that they believed in a pre-existence of our spirit. And Christ made no dispute of the doctrine.

"And his disciples asked him, saying, master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

How can a man sin before being born, unless he existed before, to sin?

Remember that if you come to this subject looking for endless Biblical evidence to prove a point you will hardly ever find any truth. It isn't a question of whether we can invent some other meaning for a statement. We must examine this from the question of whether the Bible presents that man existed before or was invented at birth. And what support is there for either idea. And in this regard the Bible strongly comes out in favor of our spirits existing before birth.

"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." Titus 1:2

To whom did God promise this eternal life, before the world began? If there was no person who could gain eternal life in existence before the world began, who was he promising it to?

There are other texts which could be used. But these are obvious ones that set forth the truth to anyone who is actually interested in God's opinion, rather than traditions of men.

There are those people who have remembered back to parts of their pre-existence. I have had some experiences of this myself.


yeti said...

I may have said something like this before, but it still bothers me when you lump the teachings of all Protestants and all Catholics into one. I am taking a class at a Chirstian college, and when talking about our Ontological nature, my prof suggested three views; one that we were of two parts, body and soul, (Matt 10:28 (idea that soul is eternal, but this would be a greek word, and not the Hebrew one used throughout) Gen., Jam 2:26 and Luke 1:46-47). One view that we were of three different parts: Spirit Body and Soul (1 the 5:23 and Heb 4:12). and then the view that we are one entity and not seperatable in any such way (Matt 20:28 and Luke 10:11). He suggested that Hebrew tradition saw man as one part.
So he left us with these three ideas, he didn't tell us which one was right. he told us Mark 12:30 could add even more confusion, but then he said that the Biblical writters probably were not too concerned about how we saw divion within a person.
Anyhow, all that to say: I don't think you can lump us all together. I would feel much more comfortable if you posted something like "Protestantism and Catholicism OFTEN teach that we came into existence..."
I can then say that we talk about the "soul" having three possible beginnings
-Pre-existance of soul (eternal existance)
-Creationist (God directly places a soul into each person)
-Traducianist (body begets body. soul begets soul.)
Again he didn't tell us which one was right. I probably wouldn't be taking this class if they just told us what to believe. We have been given minds and I am thankful to be able to think through these things myself.

Peace be with you.

Doug Towers said...


In regard your comments on this site and the answer site.

It is true that when talking of the opinions of even only 2 people, it is impossible to make statements that will pertain to each perfectly. And when we start talking of the opinions of all of Catholicism and Protestantism, which boast numbers in the billions, it can only be a generalisation.

But I would have to say that the knowledge your prof is demonstrating relative to the word "soul" is far beyond the average minister. I came across a minister of the "Uniting Church" who informed me that he had never read the Old Testament through. He was now doing so for a ministerial course he was doing, after years as a minister. A well meaning person and nice guy, but!!!!

I replied to an online discusion by the Baptist minister, Todd, on "Heart Issues for LDS" on the Trinity and he had my data, disproving the trinity, deleted. HE also challenged ME to reply because of my comments that Protestantism's interpretation of what it meant that we were made in the image and likeness of God made no sense (which I posted here some time ago). So I accepted the discusion on his site and HE backed out of it when I challenged him to explain his statements more fully, as they didn't make sense.

Because I then challenged his sincerity, he banned me from commenting on his blog. I would ask you where I can find a minister that is prepared to give up his income, job security and prestige, for truth? I have met one.

Ministers today do vary their opinions very easily (again I'm generalising). The days of absolute doctrine have gone by the wayside to a great degree. Today's average minister is pro trinity if you are, or anti trinity if that is your persausion. I've even found Protestant ministers preaching from the Book of Mormon on a regular basis. And others telling their paritioners that it is a good book to read.

On my mission I found many ministers who told me that they didn't believe in God at all. They saw themselves as a social worker, for these poor people who had to have something to believe in, so they told them there really was a God.

Many ministers were scared to talk to us. I even had one Catholic priest who had his knees knocking together in fear (literally). Why fear us if they believe God is with them?

This was a hard thing for me, as I had still believed that these people were sincere. I had not really been long out of Protestantism myself.

I questioned other ministers about their claim that they felt called by God. Upon some serious and lengthy examination of their claim, they all ended up admitting that they didn't really know they were called of God at all. They admitted that it was just that they felt it would be a good job.

So I know that you are right in that if you question one they will often just find out what you want to hear and tell you that, whatever that may be.

I am taking my generalisations, of doctrinal opinions, on those that I was brought up with, those written by Protestant writers and those that Protestants have given to me over the years since. Certainly I come across the occassional exception. But these are so few in number that they aren't worth mentioning as if their opinion should represent the majority.

Doug Towers said...


Part 2

As to the word "soul." I have to agree with your prof that how we should interpret the word is as clear as mud, from a Biblical perspective. It does appear to mean different things to different Biblical writers. For that reason I was careful to quote from the same writer - Moses. So he would have the same meaning each time he used it (or so logic would say).

As to how I know what the word means - "The spirit and the body are the soul of man." D&C 88:15

One last thing in regard Protestant and Catholic thought on the pre-existence. In regard the subject the Wikipedia only makes special mention of the belief relative to the LDS church, Judaism, Islam and philosophers. - nothing of the rest of those claiming belief in Christ.

It's good that you are a thinker, and so we should be able to share some good thoughts. I am not the type of person to say that all is well in the church. I look at half a glass of water and note that it is both half full (positive) yet half empty (there is a need for improvement). Both of these aspects are important to note and deal with in our course of improvement.

yeti said...

pre-existance of our spirits is not a very commonally held thought (if held at all) among protestants, but my prof said that it is one idea thatis believed and can be supported by the scriptures (though so can the counter opposite) and his goal is not to tell us what to think, but lead us in discussion and get us thinking.

you say that you don't think all is well within the Church. I guess I am not sure what you mean by that. do you mean within your Church? by Church do you mean the body of Christ? do you mean the whole of Christendom? anyhow, just not sure what you mean.

Doug Towers said...


In regard the all not being well. It is a statement relative to God's church - ie The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In regard Biblical support for a concept that there isn't any pre-existence, I would have to see the references to make an analysis.

yeti said...

So I looked back into my notes to the part of the Origin of the Soul (soul here meaning the part of us that is not body)
Three ideas, no scriptures to back any of them up. Time to do some of my own reseach into the Bible.

Colossians 1:16 suggests that they were created at one point (have not always existed) "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist"

Same idea is presented in John 1:3

Psalm 139:13, depending on what the inmost being consists of could point to the soul/spirit being created in the mother's womb and not before that

1 Corinthians 15:42-49 suggest that the physical comes before the Spiritual. 46: "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual."

Zechariah 12:1 "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.there is the idea of God forming Spirit within a man.

Gen 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

those ae just some verses I found. The idea does present its self throughout the Bible. I'd say that if the spirits were created at somepoint, and not altogther from an eternal substance, that better fits into my understanding of the Bible. My prof said that if we accepted that our soul has eternal existance, then we are putting ourself on the same level of God. I didn't really like that argument. You may not have a problem being on the same level as God. My prof does and sees it as being unbiblical, so he thought it made for a good argument. that though is a different discussion, so when i was agruing for pre-existance in class, I left the discussion there.

Acts 17:28 "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."

Doug Towers said...


Thanks for the references.

Col 1:16

If I say that I created a painting do you believe I magically puffed up some canvas and paint out of thin air?

If I say I created a building would do you see me making cement out of nothing and glass, metal, plastic etc?

If I say that God created the planet why is it that you imagine he puffed it up out of thin air? The answer is because that is what you have been bought up to believe. Yet there is not one other thing in all of existence which supports this interpretation of the Scriptures.

The statement that "he is before ALL THINGS" is deceiving. There is much confusion in regard this interpretation. Let me throw more questions at you. Do you know ALL THINGS? John did (1 Jn 2:20). Do you own ALL THINGS? Paul did (1 Cor 3:21). Can you do ALL THINGS? Paul says you can (Phil 4:13).

John 1:3 suffers this same problem. I would also pose the question that if all things were made by Christ then what of the Father? Did Christ make the Father?

Psa 139:13 suffers with that same illusion that we should interpret the Scriptures differently from every other thing we know - for NO explicable reason, other than tradition.

1 Cor 15:42-49 is talking about resurrection. It is saying that our body is first a physical body, and will be raised a spiritual body. How anybody misunderstands this section is beyond me. I find it as clear as crystal. I realise this isn't your fault, as you have been given these by someone else.

Zech 12:1 the spirit body of man was formed by Heavenly Father in the womb of our Heavenly Mother. Also he put our spirits within us.

Gen 2:7 is only saying that man became a living "soul" at that time. As we have discussed, the soul dies at death but our spirit goes on. So our soul includes the body.

In regard your next paragraph. Christ puts us on the same level as God. In fact at one point he put us on that level and presented himself as underneath it. (Not that I see him that way). Jn 10:34-36. Additionally Christ states that the righteous will reign in the throne of God and Himself. Rev 3:21 (I could go on but that should be sufficient).

Acts 17:28 if you read the next verse, as well, it will reveal to you that we are physically his offspring (Adam and Eve were the children of God the Father and his wife) and that he must be made of flesh because we are - ie he can't be made of gold etc because we are his offspring, and we aren't made of gold.

yeti said...

I hope for the Verse I shared that you are able to take a quick objective look at them and see that people who do not believe in the preexistence of spirits are not completely crazy, but that there are ways to interpret the Bible to believe such a thing.

And now, you might think that I am crazy, but I do believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strenght. I think Paul it trying to make the all things clear in Col 1 by his repititions and examples. it seems pretty explicit.

Christ and Our Heavenly Father being One though, would both be co-eternal. If I said that my hands created all things in this room, I would not mean that they created my head (that is not a very accurate picture of The Son and the Father's unity, but it willl do for now)

But we were created from dust.

I find your eplaination of zech 12:1 confusing very. if that verse was talking about Heavenly Father, maybe I could understand where you are coming from. but if, as it is it is talking about YWHW (Jehovah, who you said is Jesus) then I would like to know how Jesus was forming spirits in heavenly mother's womb.

If you believe that we are Heavenly Father's spiritual children I do not see how that equates to us being his physical ofspring. Unless the Adam-God theory holds true, it appears we were created from dust. (and to dust we will return?)

I did think thank 1 cor 15 was using a metiphor, but lookingback over it, I am not sure so why i did think that. (wow that was an awkwardly worded sentence)

It is interesting because I would think an item like this really doesn't mattter, but I see now how it affects so much so about what we believe about who man is, and really, I think that is the greater issue.

thanks again for your thoughts

Doug Towers said...


You can't exactly do all things. For example you can't be God, even with his help. Paul's statement isn't absolute, even though it sounds it.

In regard the Son and Father being one, I am planning on writing on how Biblically flawed the trinity concept is, in a coming post.

Yes, we are all created from the dust of this earth, including Adam and Eve. But this doesn't mean that any of us were magically puffed up out of the ground.

As to Zechariah, that is a very good point. But it has to be understood that they weren't anywhere near as informed as those should be who have read the New Testament. They saw God as one being out there. So there was no Son and Father. Only a God who was all-in-all.

We are the offspring of God in that Adam and Eve were his children Luke 3:48, Acts 17:28-29). That makes us his physical descendants. I didn't propose that either of these texts supported the idea that we are his spirit children. There are other texts supporting that.

I have to completely agree with your second last paragraph.

yeti said...

howbeit that you think we are all his physical Children? were we created from dust, or did God beget us?

Doug Towers said...


I can't see your problem with the fact that we are God's descendants yet we are made of dust. I am the descendant of my Grandfather, yet still made of dust. Do you feel that is a conflict also?

yeti said...

your grandfather is also made out of dust. I don't think that God was made out of dust. Also we see a forming/creating of Adam from the dust, we are not begotten of God. Dog begets dog, man begets man, and God begets God. I do not think we are of the same substance as he. We are not his begotten but his adopted, his creation.

Doug Towers said...


The Bible doesn't agree with those things you have been brought up to believe. Acts (among other places) demonstrates that God is made of the same substance as us; that we are physically his descendants and that he looks like us.

yeti said...

1 John 2:28-3:10
28And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him (but what about those who do not do righteousness?).

1 John 3
1Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God (out of his love he has made us this, not something we have always been. out of his great love, not something our substance demands): therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

4Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

5And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

7Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil (chidren of God and Children of the devil... different... the devil has not body? so his children??): whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

unless you believe the Adam was physically born of God, i do not see howw you think we be physical children of God. I don't get it. maybe show me those verses and explain plainly what you are trying to say

Doug Towers said...


I'm sorry that I have assumed you knew what I meant. Our language!!!

Yes, Adam was literally a child of Heavenly Father and one of our heavenly mothers. This is also stated in the genealogy in Luke 3:48 (I know you've been instructed to not take that seriously).

The statement that some are "born of God" is in a spiritual sense, as is demonstrated by the text. Yet the Scriptures say that we are all sons and daughters to God. So obviously they aren't referring to the same type of thing. We are all born as spirit children of Heavenly Father and a heavenly mother. - Childbirth by a Godess.

Then we are his physical chidren in that Heavenly Father is the literal father (again childbirth by his wife) of the physical bodies of both Adam and Eve. Us being Adam's descendants we are also God's descendants.

Then we can become joint-heirs with Christ by spiritually becoming his children in our lifestyles.

yeti said...

so you think heavenly father begot Adam not made him but fathered him?

Doug Towers said...


The Scriptures tell me that Adam was God's son. And Heavenly Father has told me himself, that you can't just create living things by puffing them up out of matter.

yeti said...

wait what? "that you can't just create living things by puffing them up out of matter." i dont know what you meanby that?
I know I cannot create something from nothing, but things that are impossible for men are possible for God.
scripture can tell you that Adam is God's son but not in a begotten way because Jesus is his ONLY begotten son.

Doug Towers said...


The Scriptures go on to say that Jesus is the only begotten in the flesh. The word "flesh" is generally used to refer to spiritually fallen bodies. As Jesus Christ was born to a woman having a fallen body (Mary), this is what the referrence means.

Adam was not born to beings that had fallen flesh. Thus Jesus is still the only begotten in the flesh, while Adam and Eve were both begotten with Celestial bodies.

While God can do things that are impossible for us, that doesn't mean that he has no restrictions.

For example we are informed that God "cannot lie."

Obviously God can't make us him and him us. God can't remove his power. God couldn't have us redeemed from our sins without a savior. And the list goes on.

God is subject to laws, just as we are.

yeti said...

while it might say that Jesus is the only begotten in the flesh, does it not also just say that Jesus was the only begotten
John 3:16
same idea is Heb 1:5
1 John 4:9
John 1:14-and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father

I am not so sure where you get the idea of the relation to the flesh? that seems rather like a stretch unless it appears in your scriptures.

Doug Towers said...


Yes, it is in our Scriptures. I will check up on the Bible and get back to you.

However we do find such statements as that no one has seen God. Yet elsewhere we find that it goes on further to say that no one has seen God except he which is considered "of God" or "from God". These terms include holy people.

So considering the Bible tells us that Adam was God's child. And the Bible tells us that Jesus was the only begotten. And we know from the Bible that Adam wasn't Jesus. We are left with a need for a better examination of the meaning of it all.

I would therefore recommend to you our additional Scriptures as a good source for solving some of these mysteries.

yeti said...

Slightly random questiom
how was Joseph Smith from/of God when he saw God?

yeti said...

After handing in a slightly scattered 2000 word rough draft on the topic of Justification, I have decided to write my paper (good copy due friday) on the pre-existence of our Spirit. it seems like so many of our differences can be traced back to this one issue. if we did pre-exist then it matter and I want to know.

Any helpful sources you know that I can look into?

Doug Towers said...


Anyone (including Joseph Smith) would be considered of or from God when their hearts are set upon the things of righteousness to a sufficient degree. I don't know what the criteria of absolute judgement would be. But an ability to be able to see God would be included. - Which Joseph Smith did.

In regard the pre-existence let me first relate that I have had several personal experiences which have demonstrated to me the reality of the time. I will share some of those with you.

When I was young (about 5 or so the first time) my spirit came up out of my torso area and in a pleading manner said, "what did I do wrong that you sent me to this terrible place?"

It must be remembered that I was brought up in Protestantism, and therefore this made absolutely no sense at all.

When somewhere around 9 I looked up at the stars one day, and suddenly I remembered being something very important out there. This was a strong memory. Yet, again, made no sense.

One day my eyes passed my, now deceased, wife and for a moment my mind went back and I remembered her and I standing in front of Heavenly Father (at least then I was in the church and believed such).

In the midst of a very serious situation I found myself needing to know how to handle the situation. I wanted to know how I handled it in the pre-existence. The memory came up instantly. It was as clear as it was yesterday. And I knew what to do.

That is my personal experience with such.

As to any further sources, I would refer you to the Holy Ghost for direction in this.

Abraham chapter 3 and D&C 93 do give some interesting statements in this regard.

yeti said...

through my research, I got the idea from M. Russell Ballard, "Search for Happiness" that we cannot remember our pre mortal existence because this is part of the test so that we by faith chose to do right and are not "swayed by our memories of what it was like to live with God" Do you think your memories of the pre mortal life give you an unfair advantage? are they like cheating on a test?

Doug Towers said...


The principles of eternity work to our favor in this regard. His statements are a bit first grade reader types.

The reason why we forget our pre-existence is because of our natural inclination toward the physical. Babies see spirits. I watched my first daughter (who was quite cute) constantly giggling and looking at no one. The whole scene was like someone was standing there going gitchy-gitchy-goo. Yet there was no living person there.

But as time goes on these things fade into the background as the physical takes precedence. The physical is easier to see. So our pre-existence fades into the background. One apostle suggested that it is the cramping of our spirits into our bodies that caused the problem. But I don't support that myself.

Certainly God has no magic wand to make us forget our entire existence. We are an independant existence which cannot be tampered with to such a degree.

However forgetting that time does allow us to choose evil without such a fear. This means people can choose their course freely.

As to my case I have chosen my course; and such awareness makes no difference to me. I have walked and talked with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. I have seen the Holy Ghost also. I have seen more miracles than is recorded in the entire Scriptures. So this little thing doesn't change the situation.

I don't follow God because of tricks he does or from fear. I follow God because he is right, that doing what he says makes me happy. A simple choice to me.

ChristianSLC said...

These are verses that are interesting for your point. After studying them though, this is simply all pointing to the glory of God, leaves me in awe. He is omniscient and soveriegn, He had a plan, which is a promise, to create all the creation that we see and before doing so, set apart certain people beforehand. Simple. It's not, "oh we must have existed before existing here." It's, "God, you know everything and can see everything before it happens because you are the most glorious thing ever and I need to just trust you 100%, not make assumptions."

Doug Towers said...


Thanks for the input and thoughts.

As I've said it isn't a question of having some perfectly provable set of Scripture texts about any subject. That is just not possible. We can take anything how we like. It is a question of coming to the subject and seeing what is presented. The Bible doesn't present invention at birth or sometime in the womb.

The Bible does present a pre-existence as far as these texts and others show. We can take anything some other way. But why?

Do we seek to follow the Bible teaching or the traditions we may have been brought up with?

Anonymous said...

I took the time to read the article on pre-existence. and could not but conclude the hubris of the writer. I gave it an open minded read. When one states" I don't know why others can't see, it's crystal clear to me". what arrogance. As a seeker I would not know where to begin mentioning the misquoting of scripture. At least one of the quoted scripture relates to Christ alone. not man. As to the manufactured schisms of denominations From Catholicism thru to Mormonism the church is only defined as those believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. nothing more 'nothing less. God knows the heart and who are his own, not withstanding mans idea of who is saved and which human construct believes it alone has the end day truth. God forgive us our arrogance.

Anonymous said...

not the most computer savvy person The above anonymous is Stephen May of Charleston SC. Anonymous is only way I could post. Sorry