Accounts of pre-mortal existence

From Academic Kids

The story of pre-history in the oral history of the Roman Catholic Church, goes something like this:

  • Before the Earth was made, there was only God and angels. The most glorious angel became envious of God and asked to be made like him. God said no. The angel took his case to the other angels and, having won one third of them to his side, tried to change God's mind. When that didn't work a war ensued and the third were cut off from God as punishment.

This story has many details that aren't relevant here, but note the classical description of Hell not as a place of torment, but as being cut off from communion.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Account of the Pre-Mortal Existence according to the beliefs of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Before this mortal life, the spirits of all mankind lived with God, as his children. The first-born of God's children was Jesus. Lucifer and every human were also children of God and were present during a council where God taught the Plan of Salvation to allow all his spirit children to progress and learn. An essential part of man's eternal progression is the gaining of a mortal body and the learning and growth that comes by exercising our agency (a.k.a. free will) to choose between good and evil. Earth-life also gave mankind the opportunity to develop talents, self-control and, faith; to test our character; and develop other attributes needed to become more like God. Each child of God had agency, and some were more righteous or "valiant" than others. It is unknown whether or not there was other sin in the pre-mortal life aside from pride, anger and rebellion against God, as shown by Lucifer and others.

In addition, since mortal mankind would inevitably sin, becoming unclean and unworthy to live in the Celestial Kingdom as exalted beings, a path of repentance and atonement was set forth. To this end was Jesus Christ appointed to atone for the sins of mankind, and to conquer physical and spiritual death, both to be brought on by the Fall of Adam.

Lucifer, for some un-revealed reason, did not sustain the plan and refused to follow it, Jesus and God. He sought to destroy the agency of mankind, to become the "Savior and redeemer" of mankind and to usurp authority from God. Most Latter-day Saints believe that this counter-plan promised that all of God's spirit children would return to dwell with God by the use of force (i.e. denial of agency). Lucifer's "plan" was in opposition to God's, and a War in Heaven occurred in which Lucifer led away "a third part" of God's children. Michael the archangel lead the children of God in the battle and Lucifer was expelled from the presence of God.

When Lucifer was cast out of God's presence, he became known as Satan or the Devil. The spirits who followed him were also cast out of God's presence and became Lucifer's angels. God's spirit children who accepted the plan of salvation, accepted the Atonement, and covenanted to follow Christ would receive a mortal body and have the opportunity to move forward in their eternal progression, having kept their "first estate." Latter-day Saints often refer to earth life as the "second estate."

All mankind who received the Melchizedek priesthood and the office of High Priest and Apostle were fore-ordained to receive that priesthood and office during this council "on account of their exceeding faith and good works" (Alma 12:27-13:12, Abraham 3:22-28). Generally, Latter-day Saints believe that most leadership callings were fore-ordained within this council, and that most of the details of human life and individual life experience was presented in this council. Whether or not Satan had a full understanding of the Fall and other specifics of the plan of salvation is a source of speculation within the Church.

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