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Moral concerns regarding the doctrine of the preexistence


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8 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you assume that it's all about the church, and that everything meaningful happens not only in this life, but in the church, you can run into this kind of mayhem.

This life for us represents the equivalent about 2 hours to God.  We say goodbye, come here, and before we know it we are heading back.

If we truly think that nothing that happened in the eternities before we came here affects our ridiculously short lives here we are being naive.
And if we think EVERYTHING that will happen in the eternities and the maximum progression we can ever achieve worlds without end is decided here then we are doubly naive.
This life is just one stage.

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8 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

If you assume that it's all about the church, and that everything meaningful happens not only in this life, but in the church, you can run into this kind of mayhem.  I personally take comfort from noticing that Joseph Smith approaches things from an entirely different perspective:

See History of the Church 4:595

And those interested in more than a twitter level of thought in the Pre-existence concept should read Givens's When Souls Had Wings.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Thanks for reminding me Kevan it's been a while since I read that I need to look into it again!

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On August 7, 28 Heisei at 9:15 PM, boblloyd91 said:

To those that don't know my background I'm an LCSW, and spend my days working with those that have mental health and substance abuse problems. Something that has bothered me more and more is that many people who have problems were born into an environment where they had considerable handicaps (such as abuse, use of drugs etc.) I know that we often hear stories of people who overcome this and lead good happy loves, however in my observation this isn't always the case. 

I guess my question to you guys is this: how humane is the doctrine of preexistence? Of course it isn't like the doctrine of predestination, which I feel is much worse, however I'm starting to struggle with the idea of spirits being deliberately sent into situations where unimaginable pain and suffering are present

Not sure what the difference would be whether we already exist as spirits or we are created at conception, it is a spirit that is suffering.

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16 hours ago, california boy said:

To tell you the truth, I have become more and more leary of the whole Mormon concept of the plan of salvation that I was taught as a kid.  The church places such importance in missionary work and converting people to the gospel, yet such a very very very small number of Gods children ever join the church  The vast majority of people go through their lives as if the gospel has never been restored.  And then they die.  Of course Mormon doctrine states that they will THEN be taught the gospel and can accept or reject it at that time.  But by then, what is the point.  If this earth life was meant to be a testing period and the vast majority was completely unaware that they were taking some kind of test, then how could they possibly get the benefit of what the purpose of their life was all about.  

And that doesn't even address the fact that the majority of people don't even know anything about Christ, yet the purpose of this life is to become more like Him.  Aren't 99.9% of the people on earth missing the whole point of why they are here?  Most have no goal of what they must do to get where they want to be?  It just seems like a huge effort to create this earth and all these spirit children and allow them to come to earth and then getting a .01% return on that investment.  And that doesn't even take into consideration that not all members of the church are going to get much out of the church except possible condemnation for not living up to what they were taught.  

And to make it even more difficult, the church is saddled with so much baggage that it makes accepting the gospel even more difficult.  It is not like the teachings draw out the best in man.  Discriminating against blacks, living polygamy, treating gays badly etc.  Then you have all of the church history issues.  Joseph peeping into a hat to receive the Book of Mormon that are written on gold tablets that he doesn't even need to look at.  Translating Egyptian mummy documents telling everyone they are written by the hand of Abraham himself, yet they neither contain any content that was translated nor does the age of the scrolls match up with when Abraham was suppose to live.  If people are suppose to find the true church, God seems to have put every stumbling block in the way of anyone that might be searching. For the same reason many members have no interested in learning more about Jeffery Warren are all the same reasons why the majority of people have no interest in learning more about the church.  Frankly it just sounds a bit nuts.  No wonder so few find the church. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why a third of the host of heaven didn't buy into this plan.  It has some major flaws.  

I am not trying to question anyone's faith.  But I am beginning to question how the church can possibly be of any importance to the children of God when so few ever even get to the point to ask God about this plan.  At what point would anyone define this plan as being successful if it's success is pretty much solely dependent on what happens after everyone dies.  

It is all proceeding according to prophecy:

1 Nephi 14:12

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

 

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32 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

If we truly think that nothing that happened in the eternities before we came here affects our ridiculously short lives here we are being naive.
 

Or it could be like we are sent off to preschool by our parents or we are junior high age practicing in a school play.  Or maybe we are essentially sleepwalking with the majority of our mind occupied with somewhere else.  Or maybe we are undergoing spiritual surgery by being born and are essentially  in recovery having bizarre dreams and reactions while our minds rid themselves of the necessary dulling needed to undergo a much more painful experience (leaving the presence of our parents and a divine existence perhaps)

Our personalities might have some effect, but it is the position and power and desires of our parents that has the most impact on what is happening in our lives.  We may have little actual control.  This may make our heavenly parents seem abusive, but it could also be our minds and bodies are so undeveloped we experience life like a three year old where pain is unbearable and moods can go from happy to life is horrible, nobody loves me for what appears to adults as a trivial reason.  I am not dismissing the pain and horrific suffering a good portion of the world suffers through no fault of their own, but I also do not dismiss the pain of a child that I know will go away soon, but she might believe it will never stop...until it does.  (I am not a "just grit your teeth and pretend it doesn't hurt" person.  Suffering is real no matter what its source and even if necessary, we need to do all we can to alleviate it  (outside of preventing our children and others from actually experiencing life and learning to control their response to hardship and pain).

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21 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

We are all projects for each other, those who need service, and those who render service.  From mewling infants who are totally dependent upon us, to those who were born with handicaps of some sort. 

And if we aren't projects to begin with (well, let us say once we hit adulthood), generally if we live long enough we all get to be projects by the end (the dependency and dimming of my mother's light is heartbreaking, in most emotional ways we are having to treat her like a five year old).

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I don't believe God forces anything on someone that is against their will.  I believe that is true today in mortality and also in the premortal world.  Thus I believe everyone before they are sent here are given a full briefing of what they are getting into and are given the choice to accept or reject.  There are many willing to accept these challenges understanding that God would keep in mind all of things we have to deal with when we are judged. Perhaps many saw what Christ had to go through in his mortal life and thought that whatever situation they are born in, it was nothing like what Christ had face so why complain?  We might say in our current mortal circumstance "Why would a spirit being chose that?"  Perhaps we can't answer that in our current limited situation but perhaps those living in the premortal world see things differently there will a lot different perspective than we do.   In some ways, those in the premortal world  may see being born in wealth and comfort as a far worse condition than being born in poverty and many difficulties as they see wealth being a much harder difficulty in returning to God.  

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On 8/7/2016 at 9:47 PM, boblloyd91 said:

On the one hand I see what you're saying, but I guess I can't seem to wrap my head around someone placed in a situation where they are ordained to be a project for those who are more fortunate. Again I appreciate your thoughts. I guess my paradigm is very negative right now

I can appreciate the difficulty of seeing it that way.  But I believe these people will be greatly blessed and be just as eligible for salvation as anyone else.  And who knows?  Perhaps their spirits are already more developed than ours such that they can handle greater trials?  It takes great heat and pressure to process metal and create jewels and that is our intended destiny.

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1 hour ago, carbon dioxide said:

In some ways, those in the premortal world  may see being born in wealth and comfort as a far worse condition than being born in poverty and many difficulties as they see wealth being a much harder difficulty in returning to God.  

I like this. Through my exposure to Buddhism I see this idea pop up a lot. Some Buddhists feel that it is much easier to approach enlightenment as a human born into a difficult situation than it is within a privileged life. The Buddha himself bailed out on his life as a wealthy and entitled prince so that he could get out there and learn something about life.

In the Tibetan version of premortal existence (bardo) the intelligence is encouraged to avoid the doors that lead to birth in the heavenly realms of luxury and satisfaction. To be reborn in such a wonderful place leads to thousands and thousands of years being stuck, no growth, no progress.

Edited by Rajah Manchou
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I haven't read the whole thread, so forgive me, but it's one thing to say, as a general proposition, that our choices in the premortal life had an impact on the circumstances into which we were born in mortality, and it's quite another to say that specific Choice X resulted in specific Circumstance Y.  Insofar as I know, apart from occasional, unwise speculation on the part of individual leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that does not rise to the level of official doctrine because it has never been presented to the First Presidency, to the Twelve, and to the membership of the Church, which then have been asked to sustain it as such, the Church of Jesus Christ has never said that there is any causal link between any specific Choice X and Circumstance Y, respectively.

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But while one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of man, causes “His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, “according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil” ...

I love it.  This is not, of course, doctrinal, but I picture a scene before the judgment in which the All-Just, All-Merciful Judge in which He asks, e.g., "Does anyone have any information that's germane to the case of Kenngo1969 before I pass judgment on him and send him to his final reward?" whereupon some of us might seize upon that opportunity as a chance to litigate the "cases" we feel were not justly resolved in mortality and might say, e.g., "Master, Kenngo1969 was horribly unjust [uncharitable, etc.] to me when he did [x] in our dealings with one another." Whereupon the Master might put a hand on our shoulder and say, "Yes, I can understand, given that experience, why you might not be well-disposed to him.  But I wonder how much you know about the burdens he was carrying at the time.  As it happens, because I atoned for his sins, I do know more than you might about those burdens.  Let me tell you about some of them ..." :)

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9 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The actual LDS belief is that all will have a chance to hear the gospel if not here, on the other side, and virtually all will accept it and have a fair chance at the Celestial Kingdom.

That is a central part of the actual Plan of Salvation as opposed to your version

Yes. I mentioned that in my post.  Maybe you can help me here. Do you think it is important for someone to join the church here on earth?  If they do, what benefit is it to them to accept it here rather than after they die?  Why do you think people don't join the church?  Are they wrong to not accept it?  Do you think people don't join the church because they  are wicked or want to sin?  

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8 hours ago, RevTestament said:

It is all proceeding according to prophecy:

1 Nephi 14:12

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

 

Tell me what you think this scripture means to you. Why don't more people join the church. Do you think that those who reject the missionaries are wicked and an abomination?  Who do you think the whore is that is mentioned

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5 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

I haven't read the whole thread, so forgive me, but it's one thing to say, as a general proposition, that our choices in the premortal life had an impact on the circumstances into which we were born in mortality, and it's quite another to say that specific Choice X resulted in specific Circumstance Y.

Agreed - we don't know which choices yielded which circumstances.

But we know that by their choices 1/3 part of the hosts of heaven will not get to come to earth.
And we also know from D&C 76 that God does not work on a pass/fail methodology.

So it is a reasonable conclusion that God had as many variations on our circumstances here based on our actions in the premortal worlds as he will have variations in the next life based on actions here.  There will be those who will not inherit a kingdom of glory (3rd estate if you will) there based on their actions here just as there are those who did not inherit a second estate based on their actions in the first.

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1 hour ago, california boy said:

Yes. I mentioned that in my post.  Maybe you can help me here. Do you think it is important for someone to join the church here on earth?  If they do, what benefit is it to them to accept it here rather than after they die?  Why do you think people don't join the church?  Are they wrong to not accept it?  Do you think people don't join the church because they  are wicked or want to sin?  

I have many of the same thoughts as you I wonder though if in the next life it won't be a "okay for salvation you need this and this and that" as if it was you are buying school supplies. I wonder if those who accept it in the next life will be tested in some capacity just like the parable of the day labourers in Matt 20. They each had to work for some of it, regardless of when they joined. I guess to the Lord it doesn't matter when or what you do (in terms of callings or when you accept the Gospel) as long as you accept it and are true to it. Pres. Monson could easily complain saying why do I have to do more than Bob Sackamento and we each have a chance of exaltation? whereas the guy who accepts the gospel in the next life could have a calling there as well that tests him personally, just like Pres. Monson. I imagine there is some kind of church structure there and people have callings and are seeing if they are faithful i.e Calvin Coolidge could be an EQ Pres. So I don't think it makes a difference so much where you accept the gospel as all will be tested and accept the gospel are what counts

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On ‎8‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 5:46 AM, california boy said:

To tell you the truth, I have become more and more leary of the whole Mormon concept of the plan of salvation that I was taught as a kid.  The church places such importance in missionary work and converting people to the gospel, yet such a very very very small number of Gods children ever join the church  The vast majority of people go through their lives as if the gospel has never been restored.  And then they die.  Of course Mormon doctrine states that they will THEN be taught the gospel and can accept or reject it at that time.  But by then, what is the point.  If this earth life was meant to be a testing period and the vast majority was completely unaware that they were taking some kind of test, then how could they possibly get the benefit of what the purpose of their life was all about.  

And that doesn't even address the fact that the majority of people don't even know anything about Christ, yet the purpose of this life is to become more like Him.  Aren't 99.9% of the people on earth missing the whole point of why they are here?  Most have no goal of what they must do to get where they want to be?  It just seems like a huge effort to create this earth and all these spirit children and allow them to come to earth and then getting a .01% return on that investment.  And that doesn't even take into consideration that not all members of the church are going to get much out of the church except possible condemnation for not living up to what they were taught.  

And to make it even more difficult, the church is saddled with so much baggage that it makes accepting the gospel even more difficult.  It is not like the teachings draw out the best in man.  Discriminating against blacks, living polygamy, treating gays badly etc.  Then you have all of the church history issues.  Joseph peeping into a hat to receive the Book of Mormon that are written on gold tablets that he doesn't even need to look at.  Translating Egyptian mummy documents telling everyone they are written by the hand of Abraham himself, yet they neither contain any content that was translated nor does the age of the scrolls match up with when Abraham was suppose to live.  If people are suppose to find the true church, God seems to have put every stumbling block in the way of anyone that might be searching. For the same reason many members have no interested in learning more about Jeffery Warren are all the same reasons why the majority of people have no interest in learning more about the church.  Frankly it just sounds a bit nuts.  No wonder so few find the church. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand why a third of the host of heaven didn't buy into this plan.  It has some major flaws.  

I am not trying to question anyone's faith.  But I am beginning to question how the church can possibly be of any importance to the children of God when so few ever even get to the point to ask God about this plan.  At what point would anyone define this plan as being successful if it's success is pretty much solely dependent on what happens after everyone dies.  

You are correct in my view.  That's not to say there is no purpose to the Church, but as I see it God will not favor anyone, in the end.  He will not look at those who were members here as any better than anyone else.  It won't matter to him at all who was a member and who was not.  We at Church see ourselves as blessed by God.  I disagree.  We are just people, the same as others.  I say we need a better perspective on Church and what it is.  We need to realize that God does not see Church division.  We've totally fooled ourselves too long.

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11 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

The actual LDS belief is that all will have a chance to hear the gospel if not here, on the other side, and virtually all will accept it and have a fair chance at the Celestial Kingdom.

That is a central part of the actual Plan of Salvation as opposed to your version

This.  I think we often miss the parable of the eleventh hour, though.  And all bowing down and acknowledging the Christ must mean something.  The distribution of peoples and cultures among the kingdoms seems arbitrary though.  Everyone is something good and something bad.  And our actions, including the desires that drive our actions, are largely dependent on our environment.  But we're told in the end our desires will be what differentiate us.

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There's an element of karma in the LDS notion of preexistence, is there not?  The idea that there were "fence-sitters" is one example.  The idea that the most valiant spirits were saved for the latter/last days is another.  I realize these specific examples may have fallen from favor here in 2016--but the broader idea still stands, right?  I imagine Mitt Romney as a ranking officer in the War in Heaven, boblloyd91 a Private First Class.  And me--well, I was hiding in the pre-existent bathroom.

See, we get what we deserve...

;0)

--Erik

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5 hours ago, california boy said:

Yes. I mentioned that in my post.  Maybe you can help me here. Do you think it is important for someone to join the church here on earth?  If they do, what benefit is it to them to accept it here rather than after they die?  Why do you think people don't join the church?  Are they wrong to not accept it?  Do you think people don't join the church because they  are wicked or want to sin?  

I know this wasn't asked toward me, but I have a few thoughts on your questions. I think it is important for someone to join the church and the benefit is that we are still in the physical body, which makes it a lot easier to learn how to master our physical desires and gain self control over our weaknesses of the flesh, while still in the flesh. The church offers us good instruction on how to be guided by God in our lives, as well as having the proper authority to have the essential rites and covenants performed while in the body.

I think many people don't join the church because they have preconceived notions of it, that are often times false, so therefore they don't want to take the time to listen and study the actual truth of the matter, and choose instead to ignore any discussion on it.

I don't think that people are necessarily wrong for not joining, just ignorant of what it is they are actually passing up, although I'm sure there are quite a few who don't want to join because they would rather lead a sinful and wicked life. Just my two cents worth anyway.

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I've been thinking about this some more and appreciate ALL the responses. I agree that God certainly has a bigger perspective than we do (which is what many here have posted in some way shape or form). I guess what it boils down to is how some days I have such a hard time accepting that God knows evil beforehand and allows it to happen. I know that this is an old theological chestnut, but man when I talk to the victims of sexual abuse and other crimes, as well as the devastating nature of addiction and mental health problems, I can kind of see why people become atheists, and wonder why God allowed such horrible things to happen. I guess I need to keep in mind that the majority of my day is spent exploring some horrible things so I'm going to see things in a pessimistic way 

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On 8/7/2016 at 10:20 PM, The Nehor said:

Since the whole plan is based on one man/God coming here and suffering even more unimaginable pain and suffering I think we can conclude God thinks it worth it.

premortality also comes with the suggestion that we volunteered for this process. One small mercy is that life may be nasty and brutish but it is, at least, short.

Nehor, 

Let the god have those handicaps 50-60-70 years day & night, rather than three days....

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36 minutes ago, boblloyd91 said:

I've been thinking about this some more and appreciate ALL the responses. I agree that God certainly has a bigger perspective than we do (which is what many here have posted in some way shape or form). I guess what it boils down to is how some days I have such a hard time accepting that God knows evil beforehand and allows it to happen. I know that this is an old theological chestnut, but man when I talk to the victims of sexual abuse and other crimes, as well as the devastating nature of addiction and mental health problems, I can kind of see why people become atheists, and wonder why God allowed such horrible things to happen. I guess I need to keep in mind that the majority of my day is spent exploring some horrible things so I'm going to see things in a pessimistic way 

I tend to look at things from the perspective of being a father. I remember teaching my kids to ride bicycles when they were little. I knew well before hand that there would be pain, skinned knees, stitches, etc., I still let them anyway. I was always there to soothe their painful experiences, and clean their wounds, or take them to the ER when necessary, I also let them experience the joy of the feeling of freedom they gained from being more mobile. In the end they thanked me, even though there were times when they asked me why I let them get hurt, before they had learned to master a bike. The same goes for their teenage years as they gain more responsibility, and therefore reap the consequences when they choose to not be responsible enough.

I think when this life is long over, and we have all stood before the judgement bar of Christ, we too will see that the benefits far outweighed any pain and grief (regardless of how severe it seems with only the perspective of this mortal existence as reference). When we actually see that justice and mercy are meeted out perfectly by a perfect being, then things won't seem so unfair as they seem to us now. Heavenly Father allows things to happen, in order for us to learn and grow, and to allow opportunities for more good to happen, in the form of serving those who are in need of help, and comforting those in need of comfort. It gives us all an opportunity to learn and grow, not at the expense of others' misfortunes, but in spite of those misfortunes. Just my two cents worth anyway.

Edited by waveslider
Punctuation error
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6 hours ago, california boy said:

Tell me what you think this scripture means to you. Why don't more people join the church.

I think there are a lot of reasons. I believe newer generations have been hardened by the traditional Christian interpretation of scripture as in conflict with science. A lot of them believe misrepresentations/lies perpetrated by early detractors of the church used by Satan against the church. Despite initially being attracted by the truths of the gospel many are disillusioned by the history of the church as presented, and seeming reality of the imperfections of Joseph Smith and other church leaders. There is a tendency by people to judge truths by the character of those purporting them. As a lawyer I am sure you are aware of the tendency of people to respond to character assassination and the ad hominem attack. I think one of the biggest factors is the rise of materialism and technology which have served to separate people from one another, so that they lose the humanness of society. Consequently, we see a rise in depression etc. We see a loss of empathy for our fellow man. This is one of the places where the church shines, and offers an alternative to truth seekers. It certainly initially attracted me. I found the people of the church to be more real, more open, and more themselves which was very refreshing. I think in certain areas the church has lost some of this feeling. Nevertheless, as a means to leading a fulfilling and happy life, the church still has a lot to offer converts.

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Do you think that those who reject the missionaries are wicked and an abomination?  

I believe they are once like I was... led astray. I believe as more truth is presented to them, they will eventually see their errors. This has been a slow process at first. But God is about to kick it in gear as the time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled and prophecy is fulfilled.

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Who do you think the whore is that is mentioned

I disagree with the latest interpretations presented by the church. I know it is the state church adopted by Rome which became the Roman Catholic Church. The ten horns on the beast she rides are the gentile nations which conquered the western Roman Empire, and still exist today in the Saxons of England, Franks of France, the Bergundians, the Suevians of Portugal, the Visigoths of Spain, etc. It is not the PC answer, but it is the truth. It is the teachings about the trinity which were introduced by man which are the creeds the Lord told Joseph Smith were an abomination to Him. 

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4 hours ago, Five Solas said:

There's an element of karma in the LDS notion of preexistence, is there not?  The idea that there were "fence-sitters" is one example.  The idea that the most valiant spirits were saved for the latter/last days is another.  I realize these specific examples may have fallen from favor here in 2016--but the broader idea still stands, right?  I imagine Mitt Romney as a ranking officer in the War in Heaven, boblloyd91 a Private First Class.  And me--well, I was hiding in the pre-existent bathroom.

See, we get what we deserve...

;0)

--Erik

For sure. 

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