What Is a Biblical Response to the Teaching That People Pre-Exist in Heaven?

The unbiblical doctrine of pre-existence is taught by the Mormon Church:

“We were first begotten as spirit babies in heaven and then born naturally on earth” (Journal of Discourse, Vol. 4, p. 218).

“Life for you did not begin here on earth. You lived before you were born; you will live on in the spirit world after your mortal life is ended.” “We all once lived in the presence of God the eternal father. In the world before you were a spirit child of his. With this divine parentage, your destiny, through righteous living, is to become like your Father in Heaven and return to his presence” (The Mormon Purpose of Life Pamphlet handed out at the Temple on BYU campus).

“In your life before birth, before the earth was created God presented a plan to his children for their advancement. You were free to accept or reject this plan of salvation. Those spirit children who accepted his plan were given the opportunity to live on earth; those who rejected his plan were not privileged to enter mortality” (Mormon Purpose of Life Pamphlet). [See more on this at http://letusreason.org/LDS24.htm]

The Bible disagrees (each passage is followed by my comment):

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7).

Adam didn’t come from Heaven to earth, but was created on earth, from the earth. That we all sinned in Adam is a Bible doctrine dependent on the fact that we come from Adam, not from elsewhere, and certainly not from Heaven (Romans 5:12-21).

But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Note that not only was the first man from the earth, but so are all other people. Only Christ is “from heaven.”

He who comes from above [Jesus] is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:31).

Christ alone came to earth from Heaven; other human beings do not.

Jesus said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world (John 8:23).

The teaching that we too came to earth from Heaven undercuts the uniqueness of Christ’s claim to be the only human who has done this.

For more on the subject of Heaven, see Randy’s book Heaven. You can also browse additional resources on Heaven available from our ministry.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries