Rog,

Thanks for sending me your treatise. I can see you have put a lot of time and a portion of your life into it. I can also see that you are one who seeks God and who seeks to please him. For all that I commend you.

I will not try to address everything in your paper. You cover a lot of ground, and if I can be honest, you sort of ramble around a lot. The discipline in writing starts with a clear outline.

What I will try to speak to is several assumptions you make about the so-called doctrine of predestination, a theory I do not believe is supported (or even really addressed) in the Bible. It is a pagan concept that Joseph Smith somehow stumbled onto in his undisciplined ramblings.

The key scriptural error you make is one that you learned from Mormonism--that Jeremiah, chapter one suggests the preexistence of Jeremiah. The passage in question _could_ mean that, but only if we did not have a biblical explanation for man's origin that rules out predestination. I'll address that momentarily, but first I want to say the Bible does not specifically address the error of predestination. In the same way the Bible does not address very specifically the error of polygamy, but only supplies a few statements like "a bishop must be the husband of but one wife." So we can't fall into the trap of supporting a theology from "_lack of_ scriptural discussion." Or a Justice Thomas said, "You can't prove a negative."

It is important to understand that Bible exegesis depends upon "the whole counsel of God" on a subject. We cannot pull esoteric references out of context and build a doctrine on them. Joseph Smith was a master at that inanity. The best example is his suggestion that I Corinthians 15 describes three heavens. That _could_ be true if we did not have clear biblical evidence that there are but two places for the departed dead: heaven and hell. There are sheep and goats, the damned and the just, those resurrected unto eternal life and those resurrected unto eternal death.

What does the Bible say about the creation of man? That God formed his body out of the dust of the earth and then breathed the breath of life into him and he became a living soul. There is no mention of pulling a spirit child out of heaven and stuffing him into Adam's body (Brigham Young said an adult spirit being was "compressed" to fit into the newborn's body.)

Nowhere does the Bible support the idea that we were disobedient in a previous existence. Nowhere does the Bible suggest that our sinful state is a result of any other action than that of being born to sinful parents. That is the fruit of the fall. Adam and Eve did not "fall up" as Mormonism teaches, but they fell from grace and became mortal because of it. Prior to sin, which ushered in death, they were immortal.

If God did not know us because we existed prior to our earth life, then how did he know Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb. The answer is that God (who is not as Mormonism teaches and exalted man) is omniscient. He knows the end from the beginning. There is no time with God: past, present, and future are all one to Him. God has foreknowledge of every future event.

I won't deal with predestination unto salvation here. I am only discussing the concept that we had existence prior to our miraculous conception--a joint effort that includes God, and our mother, and our father.

Once you buy into the Mormon error of preexistence and give it the status of fact, it is easy to fit other passages into that thinking. For example you correctly quote Isaiah 65:17 “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” That passage states that memory of this earth will be swallowed up in the glory of the new heaven and earth. And, yes, memory of a previous existence _could_ be forgotten by us if such an existence had occurred, but the Bible does not suggest a possibility of that. Heck, we could have had _dozens_ of such experiences in dozens of heavens and earths, but we have no evidence for that. So it is simply wrong to suggest that Isaiah 65:17 alludes to such existence or existences.

The Bible tells us "do not go beyond what is written." (I Cor 4:6) It goes on to say that if we follow that admonition we will "not take pride in one man over against another."

In passing, I will note that you seem to suggest that the Mormon concept of "probationary existence" is a result of being born in sin that originated in our preexistence as those "less that valiant." However, the Mormon concept says those of us born here (with the exception of the Black races) were actually the valiant ones. 

Anyway, Rog. My conclusion is that your theology is a mixture of concepts learned in Mormonism and then expanded by your personal study of the Bible. I commend you on your enthusiasm to find the will of God. I wonder is you are not suffering from what so many exiting Mormons suffer: a mistrust of all religion. Just because Joseph Smith was a charlatan, that does not mean that thousands of humble Bible students have not come understand biblical teaching accurately. Mormonism teaches that there are "hundreds of churches all teaching different things." Not so, there is a bond of unity in among the Christian churches, an acceptable theology based on two thousand years of scriptural study. That does not mean there is agreement in everything, but in the majors--Who is God and how many of Him are there?--what is man's condition?--what is the solution to man's condition?--what is the hope of the redeemed?--etc. There is broad agreement in these matters.

I have lots of resources that I am glad to share freely with you. You can visit my web site and read all my books online. You can download lots of my teachings. Whatever you can't access via the web I will be glad to mail to you. Also, if you send me your snail address, I will put you on the list to receive my newsletter--free of charge, of course.

Sincerely,

Jim Spencer