Episode 199: Pre Existence for Dummies (Live)

23 comments on “Episode 199: Pre Existence for Dummies (Live)”

  1. mikecassidy Reply

    Has a MODERN DAY PROPHET, SEER AND REVELATOR spoken concerning the Chinese?  Absolutely!

    “Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. A Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity. But think of the mercy of God to Chinese people who are willing to accept the gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen, if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their lives they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn’t the mercy of God marvelous?”
    (Race Problems as They Affect the Church, an address by Apostle Mark E. Petersen, delivered at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, August 27,1954)

    • darkmatter20 Reply

       This is out of context and out of timing.

      A Chinese man/woman born in the 1850 actually had the same disadvantages as a european born in the middle ages -there was no true church nor full gospel nor temple sealings. Therefore Petersen is trying to say, in a way, that back then the chinese man was at a disadvantage in the world Petersen knew, which was very racists no matter where it was in the US (during the ’50) but then, slowly, they can get access to temple ordinances and its blessings just as the europeans gradually had from 1840 odd onwards.

      Maybe if he’d compare the dark skinned people to europeans of the middle ages, around 1300, ie a time when europe was a colection of warring kingdoms and the indians and pakistanies had the modern and advanced courts and societies -along with the chinese…maybe people would understand what he is trying to say more clearly.

  2. Gail_F_Bartholomew Reply

    What I never understood about the whole blacks were less valiant stuff was if God choose where to sent us on earth based on how we did in pre earth life is that it always seemed to me that he would have sent the weakest spirits to a white middle class family that was already members of the church, and the strongest spirits would have gone to the poor African family, because they would have a chance at being good in the face of all that opposition. Were as the weak spirits needed all the help they could get.  
    In the same way as in school a kid with academic problems would go to the class that has the most support and the academically gifted kids would be sent to the most challenging classes. 
    Am I crazy here?

    • Megan von Ackermann Reply

       Absolutely not crazy!

      The whole less-valiant stuff SEEMS to solve a problem (why are people in inequitable situations if there is a loving God), but it presents all sorts of others. On the surface it’s really easy to say yes, cool, you have to live in a war-torn area where women are repressed and you are far more likely to be exposed to violence and devastating diseases, but hey, you weren’t all that valiant in that pre-existance you can’t remember and that in no way means you have less than total free-agency, so now it all makes sense.

      But then you get into this terrible situation of trying to balance the scales.

      So it’s GOOD to be valiant because you’re super special! And you’re American (probably – okay, western European as a second choice) which is so much nicer than those poor Africans (or North Koreans etc) and you have a faithful family and you are SET UP FOR SUCCESS!!

      But that’s not fair. So you also have WAY more burdens now, because you know the truth so you are far more responsible for it, while those poor (I mean lucky) Africans (or North Koreans) aren’t going to be held accountable. Only we need to send missionaries to them… so they will be… um…

      And then there’s the basic fact that when I, as a fairly young child, told my mum I wished she hadn’t raised me in the church so I could have been converted on my death bed and baptized and died in a state of total innocence, she said that was a no-go because I would have Cast My Spirit by means of all the choices I made outside the church. So I would still be judged based on what I had done (somehow) and yet the baptism would still take (theoretically) and in the end of it all I probably wouldn’t make the top tier of the Celestial – but it wouldn’t be God’s fault!

      • Hermes Reply

        Megan, your post reminds me of the dilemma I faced as a young kid learning about accountability.  I remember wondering to myself why we didn’t just kill all infants before they reached majority, since this would guarantee their immediate exaltation.  I knew there was something seriously wrong with this idea when I had it, but I could not see why it was not doctrinally sound.  Thus began my introduction into the mysteries of apologetics.  (“It’s true, but not really, and no one can explain it.  Wait for the next life, or use your brain and go to hell!”)

    • darkmatter20 Reply

       I agree generally and believe this is happening today…..strongest spirits are going to south american, africa, phillipines where they are building the church.

      the weaker spirits seem to go to Utah, like (respectfully) john larsen, zelpha, their friends who can’t feel the spirit and end up falling away.

      very few stronge spririts seem to be going to utah these days compared to african countries.

      however this ‘sending to africa the strongest’ would only have to have started in the ’60 or ’70,  since it’s during the ’80 that the church really took off in africa, with leaders born in the ’60’s leading. in south american and phillipines it was probably earlier like ’40 and ’50s. before then God would have had to send all his choice spirits to utah/idaho and other US or Canada areas to allow these choice spirits to find the gospel early in life -althought they’d probably find it anyways later as adults looking for God imho….

      • Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

        The practice of trying to identify people who are stronger or more blessed because of how they might have behaved in the pre-existence seems to be part of a larger Mormon phenomenon: Its obsession with hierarchies and rankings.

        But why is it important for anyone to determine who is, or was, valiant vs. less valiant, worthy vs. less worthy, stronger vs. weaker, etc? Why does the Mormon church always compare itself against other churches, as in the recent Mormonism 101 “infographic” (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-101#C3)? Exactly why would anyone want to keep score? Since when did religion become a competitive sport?

        • darkmatter20 Reply

          It’s all part of uplifting and inspiring those you lead to become better than they are. It’s about forming a sence of belonging to a special community, so that people will hold that sense of belonging dear as well as important.

          Peter did this too when he taught his audience that they were a part of a “royal priesthood” a “choosen people” and a “holy nation”. 

          I don’t think its about competition but about building a sense of belonging to something special, imho….

          • Chaste_and_Benevolent

            I’m all for praising anything that’s good.

            But how is it inspiring or uplifting for the church’s Mormonism 101 graphic to point out that “77% of members attend church at least weekly, compared to 39% of the U.S. average”? (Questionable truthiness and poor grammar in original.) Does this lead anyone to become better than they are, or does it suggest an unappealing attitude of superiority?

            Most people belong to several types of communities which are special in their own ways. Virtually all of these communities are special in their commitments to particular activities or causes. That is what they focus on. They do not generally think it is important to point out that they believe themselves to be more committed than other communities that are involved in similar activities or causes.   

          • darkmatter20

            in reply to Chaste_and_Benevolent

            I wouldn’t add that 77% stat which is misleading. But I think it is so due to the problems with records and statistics more than a deliberate attempt to mislead. Same thing happens with the stats on Temple marriages compared to Civil marriage when the church claims that the rate of divorce is lower for Temple Marriages but fails to realize that many couples will go inactive first and then divorce without the church ever hearing about it (because they are inactive and disapear into the address unkown file)

            But maybe I should have expressed this differently by saying that it helps build a sense of belonging to a special community, like the Jews do, than about inspiring or uplifting. It helps build identity more than thinking of being superior to others….imho…

            True most people do belong to several types of coumminities but think of large one’s, like nations, like say the US or Britain or Germany. Most people there surely do believe themselves to be more committed and involved and proud of their countries than others, even though this can be a errorenous way of thinking. Something similar happens with churches and groups like mormons and baptists and JW….etc ….

      • Gail_F_Bartholomew Reply

        I am now sorry I ever thought in these terms.  It makes me sick to see myself in the univers darkmatter20’s discribes.  To being willing to rank everyones pre earth preformance to justify my choices over theirs nows seems so very perverse.

        • darkmatter20 Reply

           Well Gail welcome to my darkmatter universe.

          If you feel sick and sorry, maybe chatting with your Bishop can help. He can lift that darkmatter20 association you now have through the power of his priesthood and help you return to a non- darkmatter20 free world….one where your opinions will no longer concur with mine!

  3. Chaste_and_Benevolent Reply

    Great podcast. Thanks to the panel.

    But I disagree with John’s statement that the pre-existence is a uniquely Mormon concept. In the sixth book of his Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil portrays the spirits of Julius and Augustus Caesar in the Elysian Fields as they wait to be born:

    “Now fix your sight, and stand intent, to see Your Roman race, and Julian progeny. The mighty Caesar waits his vital hour, Impatient for the world, and grasps his promised power. But next behold the youth of form divine, Ceasar himself, exalted in his line; Augustus, promised oft, and long foretold, Sent to the realm that Saturn ruled of old; Born to restore a better age of gold.”

    Kinda goes with your outfits. It also goes nicely with the Mormon idea of deification, which — as D. Michael Quinn has pointed out — has its closest parallel in Greek and Roman religion rather than Jewish or early Christian ideas.

    Also, try not to play too much of that Saturday’s warrior stuff. Some of us have diabetes.

    • Joe Geisner Reply


      This is quite interesting. Thank you for pointing out the Greek and Roman ideas. I am convinced Smith’s ideas were never original. He was much like a sponge and absorbed what ever was floating around.

      I checked Rick Grunder’s “Mormon Parallels” to see what kinds of ideas were swirling around Smith’s environment when it comes to pre-earth spirits. In one search I found  Josiah Priest’s “Anti-Universalist” 1837, on pages 72-73, 87:   SPIRITS, . . . we cannot doubt, were the kind of beings which were first brought forth, having intellectual attributes . . . That spiritual beings existed previous to the creation of Adam and Eve, and the heavens and the earth, is evident from Job . . . where it is said that God enquired of Job, where he was when the foundations of the earth were laid: when all the sons of God shouted together.

      • Megan von Ackermann Reply

         You might look as well to William Wordsworth and his fellow romanticists. I’ve hear his lines from Ode on Intimations of Immortality used in church any number of times:

        Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
        The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
        Hath had elsewhere its setting
        And cometh from afar;
        Not in entire forgetfulness
        And not in utter nakedness
        But training clouds of glory do we come
        From God, who is our home:

        The poem was published in 1807 but Wordsworth’s popularity and influence was at it’s peak in the 1830’s and ’40’s. I would be surprised if the Mormon community around the time of the development of the pre-existence doctrine weren’t aware of his works.

  4. Ryan24120 Reply

    Hey everyone! It was great to finally meet you all at the show. Most everyone I know is still Active in the church, so it is nice to know that there is a group of people out there who can really talk  about what they think. The church really doesn’t give much wiggle room for individual thought, and I think the intelligent questions raised in this podcast shows that really well.

    I wish that my old Sunday-School, Elders Quorum or Family Home Evening meetings were like this, where people can safely interject history, science and facts into the conversation. Open-mindedness is the name of the game here, and I just wanted to say that you guys rock. I hope to see more pod-casts like this one in the future.

    I also hope that I can keep in contact with a lot of my new-found fellow-heathens. See you later!

  5. Jake Struckle Reply

    I just found MormonExpression earlier today and I’ve listened to 6 podcasts already today. You guys are amazing! If you ever want another “member” for your team let me know 😉 Hahaha

  6. JTurn Reply

    Overheard recently in the 8th dimension…

    Muhammad: Hey Joe, what were you thinking with all that pre-mortal existence stuff?

    Joseph: But it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time …

  7. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    It was fun to hear Brian use flotsam and detritus in a sentence. Also Katie telling the name of the Imperius curse from Harry Potter was cool. (I think the name cruciatus was mentioned but the description matched the imperius curse)

  8. darkmatter20 Reply

    Slight error by John L in the priesthood and blacks issue: it was on all africans,including egyptians due to being descendents of the egyptus babe ie including mediterranean race people who live in or are descendents of egyptians; ie people not black per se but mediterranean race.

    however racists utah republican mormons have long thought of the ban being only for the negro races (all backs from africa and they even wanted to include indians in fiji and native aboriginals in australia seeing they are dark skined, something McKay stopped fortunately) but in brasil and other latin american countries during the high growth years of the ’60s and 70’s those with Egyptian or Lybian or north african ancestry were also denied the priesthood (i knew a man son of egyptians who looked italian or spanish ie mediterranean race, who put up with this since joining in the ’70’s but he managed to become a bishop in the early ’90s)

    • Robert Saladino Reply

      Does anybody know where JS got the idea of the pre existense? Assuming he made it up, where did he come up with it? Are there any 18 century books on the matter? Mormonism seems very complex for one mind to make up, let alone have it endure all these years, without any real scandals regarding the brethen(an apostle leaving because he finally admits it’s a rue for example)…if it’s not true what’s keeping the leaders in line? Anybody have any ideas?    

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