Thoughts on the Preexistence
By Scott C. Pugsley
If a perfect God is the Father of our spirits,
then why are we so different and imperfect?
Before the beginning, before time as we know it, Elohim became God over the universe we now inhabit. Elohim progressed through another time and place, from being like we are now to what he is now.
Elohim’s universe already contained physical matter and spirit matter, both unorganized. The physical matter had qualities and characteristics that made it what is was. Likewise, the spirit matter had its own qualities and characteristics that defined what it was. The physical matter is the material from which the existing universe was organized, including our earth. The physical universe became what it is as the result of the characteristics of the primordial matter and the organization applied to it by Elohim, acting through Jehovah and others to affect that organization. The processes identified by modern science likely were involved.
Likewise, with the organization of spirit matter into Elohim’s spirit children. Elohim and Heavenly Mother, together in a parental process of organization analogous to mortal conception and birth, utilized the preexisting spirit matter to create spirit children. Those spirit children were in the general likeness of their spirit parents, but were as distinct in their spirit personalities and other characteristics as we are from our parents. The personalities of Elohim’s spirit children became what they are as the result of the characteristics of the spirit matter from which they were created, the parental organizing process, and other factors we do not understand. Elohim and Heavenly Mother felt joy in this parenting process and love for their spirit children.
That parental process of organizing spirit children from preexisting spirit matter did not create perfect, identical spirit offspring. Rather, it resulted in the huge variety and diversity of Elohim’s spirit posterity, of which we are a part. All Elohim’s spirit children are unique - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and in every other way. Each has moral agency and, presumably, the light of Christ and, thus, each is unique in his or her affinity to Elohim’s plan and their ability and willingness to keep his commandments. Elohim’s spirit children include Jesus Christ the first-born, preeminent child; Lucifer a prominent but flawed spirit child; the pre-mortal spirit children who followed Lucifer; and all who have come to this earth and received a body.
The spirit children who accepted Elohim’s Plan of Happiness, as championed by the Savior, each received a mortal body on earth and are said to have kept their first estate. Jesus Christ’s atonement is a key feature of that plan because it was recognized that each spirit child (except Christ) would sin and fall short of the strict standard established for returning to Elohim’s presence. The acceptance or not of Elohim’s Plan by each spirit child was a fully informed decision, made individually and thoughtfully by each spirit child. Given God’s justice, that decision was made with full knowledge of the consequences. Those who rejected the plan thereafter affiliated with Lucifer, whose alternate plan had been rejected by Elohim. They do not receive a body on this earth.
Those who accepted Elohim’s plan do receive a body on this earth. Nevertheless, they had the pre-mortal understanding that their time on earth might be very difficult and involve exposure to evil and suffering. The conditions in which Elohim’s spirit children are placed on earth are almost as varied as the characteristics of those children. Conduct, performance, and achievement in the preexistence apparently affect, to some degree, the placement and performance of spirit children who receive a body on earth. Why those placements are made is a function of God’s wisdom considering pre-mortal achievements, and whatever eternal constraints may apply. Whatever that process, it is fair.
For Elohim to be God, he is apparently constrained by conditions that are inherent in his nature and status, in the physical and spiritual matter from which he has organized and peopled his universe, in the principles of godliness, and other constraints not revealed to us. For example, in judging his children Elohim cannot let mercy rob justice, except through the effects of the atonement of Jesus Christ. There must be an opposition in all things. Moral agency must be honored. Judgment must be fair. Obedience results in blessings. Unrepented sin must be punished. Elohim’s omniscience and omnipotence extend throughout his universe to all matters, but always in a way in which he will continue to be God.
As there are laws which shape what Elohim can and must do, so there is a Plan of Salvation (Happiness) which defines what Elohim’s spirit children can do and what the consequences of their choices and actions will be. The source of the over-arching laws is not clear, but the implementing plan is from Elohim and has been implemented by Jesus Christ who has given commandments, doctrines, ordinances, and covenants to facilitate obedience to the plan. The doctrine of Christ and his atonement are key elements of the Christ-centered plan. Why the plan is the way it is, and why mortal life is the way it is, are not completely revealed. Considering the source of all things, we can assume that the laws are fair and just and that the plan is the best possible for the eternal good of Elohim’s children. The choice to believe such things is what we call “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The world is not a uniformly safe and happy place because such a world would not contribute to the exaltation and eternal life of Elohim’s children, which achievement is his work and his glory. Elohim’s children are subject to the evil tendencies that are apparently part of human nature as the individuals achieve mortal accountability. Evil is also presented to Elohim’s children by Satan and his spirits. Such evil may be chosen and adopted through the exercise of moral agency, or it may be resisted. Choosing evil leads to the loss of the blessings associated with obedience, plus actual punishment. Resistance to, and overcoming evil are part of what Elohim’s children must learn and choose to achieve exaltation and eternal life.
Elohim’s children are not spared suffering in this life, even terrible and extreme suffering. Such suffering is inherent in mortal life and is part of the tutoring, probationary process that Elohim permits for his children. Elohim chastens those who he loves, which is everyone. Some suffering is the result of the misuse of moral agency. Allowing such suffering to occur is somehow fundamental to the process of being a God: having spirit children, peopling an earth, having a perfect plan of salvation, and redeeming as many of those diverse spirit children as possible through a Savior. Suffering is both a means to a worthy end, and a consequence of the imperfect constituents of human souls and the world on which they live. It can be ennobling and strengthening, or it can be crushing and harmful. God weeps with those who suffer.
Agency is a two-edged sword, permitting the bad choices of some to cause suffering for others. That such is allowed is a testament to the extreme importance of moral agency in Elohim’s plan, and not evidence of his indifference. Such suffering will no doubt be important at the judgment for both the victim and the perpetrator. Undeserved suffering may, in Elohim’s justice, be compensated in the hereafter. Harsh punishment is indicated for those who cause others to suffer.
Some undeserved suffering is holy and redemptive. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the beloved first-born of Elohim in the spirit and his only-begotten in the flesh, was a necessary part of Elohim’s plan. This necessity of a Savior is the result of Elohim’s perfect knowledge of his children and the world in which they live. It is also the result of other conditions and constraints of godliness that we do not now understand. The necessity for the Savior’s atonement seems related to the diversity and imperfection of the spirit creation, and is a process to make whole and perfect that which begins as varied, untutored, and imperfect.
Christ’s atonement makes possible both the resurrection of all those who receive a body, and the exaltation of those who qualify by keeping the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. The Savior’s atonement makes repentance possible when bad choices are made. Through repentance Elohim’s children can become clean and pure, as they were in the beginning.
As God, Elohim is entitled and required to judge his children after they complete mortality. Such judgment may be delegated to other worthy resurrected individuals, who apply Elohim’s standards. In judging his children, Elohim’s knowledge includes his perfect knowledge of each child’s nature, conditions, and circumstances, including what they chose to do on earth, with special emphasis on what they have become, and the goodness of their hearts. Some of each child’s mortal performance will be the consequence of their characteristics resulting from of the particular spirit matter from which they were organized, the effects of the pre-mortal parental process through which they were organized, and the attributes developed in the preexistence. Elohim’s spirit children include the enormous variety that make up the human race, and each must and will be judged on his or her own merits, using the standards in Elohim’s plan. All relevant factors will be appropriately considered by him who is both just and fair.
The spirit children who accept the Father’s plan and progress through the resurrection will each be the same individuals who were created in the preexistence, as improved or degraded by their choices and other pre-mortal and mortal experiences. Each person will still be himself or herself, and not someone else. No one will escape either the resurrection or the judgment.
Through the Savior’s atonement, Elohim’s children can avoid suffering for their own sins, on conditions of repentance. The Savior’s atonement makes possible the exaltation and eternal life of all of Elohim’s children who choose to accept and diligently follow his plan. Becoming as God is, is a revealed possibility.
Elohim loves his children. Taking all factors into account, he will judge and reward or punish his children in a manner that is completely fair and acceptable to each child. The judgment will maximize the glory, exaltation, and eternal life of each child as much as divinely possible. Except for the sons of perdition, and after any appropriate punishment, all of Elohim’s spirit children will end up in a suitable place of glory where they are comfortable.
The vicissitudes of life are necessary but mercifully brief in the context of Elohim’s eternity and the applicable plan of salvation. We should glory in his plan and worship him for his love and the mercy embodied in that plan. We should also love and worship our Savior whose love for us and for his father made possible the merciful implementation of Elohim’s plan and our possible, eventual exaltation.