Friday, September 06, 2013

Pre-existence and Creation

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 16)

I really love this passage of scripture and I respect its significance and respect all those who also love and respect this scripture. When you and most other Catholic's cite Matt 16:18-19, I can tell this one scripture serves as the basis of belief for many honest Catholics. If the Bible says that Satan could never prevail over the Church, anything outside or apart from the Church is heresy and apostasy. End of story. Everything else must be overlooked.

However, In context of verse 17, Christ told Peter that his testimony and witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God was not based on "flesh and blood" but via revelation by Our Heavenly Father. The keys and authority to receive revelation from God is the rock upon which Christ's Church was to be built; not Greek philosophy, theology degrees, divided ecomenical councils, creeds and man's wisdom (Isa. 29:14).

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 16)

The Church of Christ built on revelation and not "flesh and blood" would never be prevailed against.  Unfortunately, discovering that the Roman Empire could not destroy Christianity, the Empire decided it would control it, and began to "change the times and the laws"; defining doctrine by divided ecumenical council and not unifying revelation. The Roman Empire gave us an authorized version of Christianity and then enforced it.

21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; ... 23 Thus he said, The fourth beast (Rome) shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. ....

25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws (apostasy): and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Old Testament, Daniel, Daniel 7)

Truely, had the Church remained built upon revelation, Satan and the Roman Empire would never have prevailed against it bringing in the Dark Ages of the Great Apostasy.   However, the Bible pattern is clear.  God established His covenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Peter and each time man fell away from the truth.  God didn't leave us but we are the ones who left God.

44 And in the days of these kings (NOT Rome) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Old Testament, Daniel, Daniel 2)

The basis for my knowledge that the Restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's only true church on the Earth is based on sound reason but also clear and  unmistakable revelation by God the Father after much prayer, study,  pondering, and revelation by the Holy Ghost to both my mind and heart.  The same spirit that came to you promising to lead you to the truth.

I have read the Book of Mormon and prayed and asked God the Eternal Father in the name of Christ if it is His word, and I have received a spiritual and divine manifestation that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I am sorry if you need flesh and blood artifacts before you would believe and not simply pray and ask. This is not an easy question considering the changes that would need to be made and the adversity that comes.  Understandably, it can be much easier to be of another faith.  God is still leading you to the truth.

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 33)


I think you got my main point that a "doctrinally unsophisticated" minority of Pre-Creedal Christians Justin Martyr and Origen understood certain scripture to be teaching about pre-existence. I agree with you that  the majority of "learned" Post-Creedal theologians may more generally disagree but early Jewish teaching and the Earliest Church Fathers supported a pre-existence of the spirit. 

I think you also got my point about "bara", "ktizo", and"sunistanĂ³" are verbs which describe God's creative activity in terms of building, shaping, forming, cutting out and putting together.  But, we can agree that this point alone does not, by itself, prove nor disprove pre-existence or ex-nihlo.

As far as interpreting Jer 1:1, Col 1:17, John 9:2, Rev 12:7, Job 38:7, Jude 1:6, Rom 9:13, etc. We can honestly disagree about interpretation of context as well as interpretation of the direct passage.  I guess we will have to agree to disagree about whether or not scripture discussing a pre-existence "war in heaven", "calling and election" (2 Pet 1:10) and a "first estate" involve and apply to a pre-existent spirit of man. 

With regard to 1 Cor 1:17; I think the pre-existent Christ can still be "before" all things and does not rule out a pre-existence of the spirits of mankind. We know Satan and the angels pre-existed and this fact doesn't challenge God's "first-ness", "unique-ness" or "before-ness",

But, I think one of the best scriptural cases for the pre-existence of the spirit of man goes back to the creation story itself and serves as the reason behind an early Talmudic Jewish belief in pre-existence.  

4 ¶These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: (Old Testament, Genesis, Genesis 2)   

Genesis 1 discusses the 6 days of creation and the creation of man on day 6.  Then on the 7th day in Genesis 2, God tells that all creation was created spiritually before it was created physically.  And then we are told during day 7 that God forms the physical body of Adam and plants the Garden of Eden.  The spirit of man was created on day 6 of creation and then the spirit of Adam was placed in Adam's body on day 7. This is how some Jews understand it or understood it.   No need to divide up the account into 2 parts for the common and priestly class.  

"I do not think St. Paul had the benefit of such a degree of philosophical education".   

 "The problem is that the Hebrew language and its dialects simply were not sophisticated enough to allow for complex discussion of abstract concepts.  In the ancient world, only the greek language was."

On one hand you suggest pre-existence reflects a "hellenic, platonic, gnostic and pagan view" but then on the other hand you say the Paul wasn't Greek enough?  When Christ Himself appears to you and the Holy Spirit is your guide,  I don't think there is much that Paul's Pharisaic background or Greek philosophy could add would have been of much value.  I don't think the Greek language was necessary for the Apostles to fully communicate the true nature of divinity.

Concerning LDS Scholarship on 2nd Macc 7:24.  Yes, this passage as stated does support "ex-nihlo".  So does Shepherd of Hermas 1:6.  But if we are going to cite Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha then you would enjoy the following link:[Compatibility%20Mode].pdf

"a stale mish-mash of old, tired gnostic and manichean heresies that were re-promulgated by a charismatic leader."

Nothing tired about the belief of the pre-existent and eternal nature of the spirit of man.  Nothing tired about believing in eternal marriage, and family relationships. People generally already believe this in their heart.  When talking about doctrine and orthodoxy: Catholics and Protestant preachers deny these fundamental truths but I consistently have heard them turn around and preach these doctrines over the pulpit to their congregations again and again. Attend any funeral.

The intelligence of man being co-existent with God  and the pre-existent nature of the spirit of man does not make man equal with God. God is still unique and man is still created and contingent.  The purpose of this doctrine just means 1. the spirit of man was formed out of intelligence which is the same co-existent material as God. This is how we are considered God's offspring.  God is the most intelligent 2. the spirit of man is a different creation than other of God's creations. 3. Unlike the other creations, mankind as the offspring of God, can potentially be exalted by God and continue in and fully realize its eternal nature.  You cannot become eternal. You either are eternal or you are not. Even though it is not manifest here what we shall be and what and who we are.  We know when He appears we shall be like Him.  4. This doctrine does not diminish God but elevates man and honors God who is a God of gods, King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Finally, the co-existence of intelligence of which our spirits were formed in the pre-existence solves the atheist problem of evil.  Atheists love to exploit the problem of evil to create doubt which is a consequence of ex-nihlo. If God created Satan ex-nihlo then God created a defective spirit in creating Satan.  Or, God gave a mass murderer a gun when He allows Satan to act on the Earth.  However, God has organized and allows all spirits to act according to their own will for a time. However, the essence of what Satan is has always existed and is responsible to itself and will receive the reward according to its actions.  Mankind was also given full legal informed consented before coming to Earth (another important reason for pre-existence).

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