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Plan of salvation/Pre-mortal existence
The Holy Bible and the Mormon doctrine of "premortal existence"
Question: Is the Mormon doctrine of a "premortal existence" pagan, unchristian, or unbiblical, and therefore false?
Some Christians present alternate interpretations of selected scriptures that fit with their preconceived notions concerning where we came from, yet, they cannot really answer where we came from
Without an understanding of where we came from, it is difficult to understand why we are here and where we are going. While the teachings of sectarian critics may not answer these questions, we are fortunate to live in a time when the answers have been fully revealed by prophets, as in times of old.
The assertion made by critics of Mormonism is that those who believe in the Bible cannot believe in life before life. Such an assertion is evidenced through statements such as the following:
- "…such teachings are perplexing to the Bible-believing Christian…"
- "Mormons … are hard-pressed to find any biblical support for the very idea of preexistence."
- "The Word of God certainly does not support the LDS concept that all humans are literal children of God."
One specific critical work issues the challenging statement "Until Mormons can show better proof of humanity's eternal existence, Christians are unable to agree with this extrabiblical teaching."
Such a challenge, of course, should not go unanswered. Such challenges have been answered many times in the past, though those who raise the issue rarely acknowledge or address responses already made.
The pre-mortal existence of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world is abundantly testified to in scripture
The pre-mortal existence of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world is abundantly testified to in scripture, both ancient and modern, and nothing in the chapter at hand gives rise to any question concerning the acceptance of the doctrine of Christ's ante-mortal existence. We will leave it to the reader to ponder whether Christ was not just our spiritual pattern, but also a literal pattern of the path that each of us tread as we make our way from our home with God, through this earth life, and back once more to the eternal realms.
Question: Are Mormons the only ones who believe in the concept of a life before this one?
Many people see this mortal life as nothing more than a temporary way station on some cosmic journey
Many people who are not LDS are entirely comfortable with the concept of a life before this life. Many see this mortal life as nothing more than a temporary way station on some cosmic journey. Consider a small portion of a poem by William Wordsworth:
- Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
- The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
- Hath had elsewhere its setting,
- And cometh from afar:
- Not in entire forgetfulness,
- And not in utter nakedness,
- But trailing clouds of glory do we come
- From God, who is our home:
- Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
A common question faced by parents, holding their newborn child for the first time, is where this tiny miracle comes from
The origin of the child's physical body is obvious, but the beginnings of personality evident at the earliest stages of child development are easiest explained through an understanding that our spirits—which make up our personality—do not have their beginnings in the womb. Indeed, they hearken back to an earlier time, as so aptly stated by Wordsworth.
In addition, many within the Christian community are comfortable making reference to our "immortal spirit" or our "eternal spirit." Logic dictates that if something designated as eternal has a beginning, then it is not really eternal. Likewise, if a spirit can be imagined to have a beginning, then it can just as easily be imagined to have an end. To accept the concept of a beginning without an end is just as illogical as thinking that a circle has an endpoint.
As appealing as the concept of a premortal life may be to some, to others the idea smacks of emotionalism, wishful thinking, simplistic superstition, or outright heresy. Common sense ideas, however, often have their roots in deeper doctrinal concepts.
Question: Did the early Christian fathers express a belief in a pre-mortal life?
Many scholars (both LDS and non-LDS) find strong evidence for a belief in premortal life in the writings and teachings of the early Christian fathers
It is certainly true that the LDS are not the only people to believe in a premortal life. In fact, many scholars (both LDS and non-LDS) find strong evidence for a belief in premortal life in the writings and teachings of the early Christian fathers. While these teachings may have been dropped from the rote canon of the church, there is little doubt that they were understood and espoused from the earliest recorded times.
For instance, Clement of Alexandria, commenting on the scriptural passage in Jeremiah 1:5 (which is also addressed more fully in the next section), generalized the doctrine as having universal application. He wrote:
"…the Logos is not to be despised as something new, for even in Jeremiah the Lord says, 'Say not "I am too young," for before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, and before thou camest forth from thy mother I sanctified thee.' It is possible that in speaking these things the prophet is referring to us, as being known to God as faithful before the foundation of the world."
Another church father that spoke directly to the idea of a premortal existence was Origen of Alexandria (ca. AD 185–254). Writing in the third century, he stated a belief that differences evident among men on earth were attributable to differences in rank and glory attained by those men as premortal angels. According to Origen, God could not be viewed as "no respecter of persons" without such a premortal existence. In fact, if the differences of men on earth were not related in some way to our premortal condition, then God could be viewed as arbitrary, capricious, and unjust. Origen felt that just as there would a judgment after this life, that a sort of judgment had already taken place based on our premortal merit, with the result being the station to which we were appointed in this life. As an example of this concept supported in the Bible, Origen referred to the Old Testament story of Jacob being preferred over Esau. Why was this so? According to Origen, because "we believe that he was even then chosen by God because of merits acquired before this life."
Belief in a premortal life was not confined to various early church fathers. In the course of his writings the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote about the beliefs of the Essenes. He reported they believed "that the souls are immortal, and continue for ever." He further related that the Essenes believed that the souls of men "are united to their bodies as in prisons" and that when the spirits are set free they are "released from a long bondage" and ascend heavenward with great rejoicing.Josephus' description of Essene doctrine has surely taken on greater validity in light of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. Together these records provide primary evidence that contemporaries of Christ and the apostles believed in a premortal life—a belief that is validated by the Bible itself, as discussed in the following section.
These historical citations are just the tip of the iceberg. Serious students of the topic can find additional information that verifies that ancient Christians and Jews understood and accepted the concept of premortal existence. While knowing that the concept has historical roots does not prove the concept to be true, it certainly counteracts the fallacious claim that the teachings of the LDS on the topic are new, heretical, or dangerous.
Questions: What biblical evidence is there for a pre-mortal existence?
Critics cite three scriptures, asserting that the Latter-day Saints use them as biblical proofs for the concept of a premortal life
In the course of proffering a refutation of the LDS doctrine of a premortal life, critics cite three scriptures, asserting that the LDS use them as biblical proofs for the concept of a premortal life. The cited scriptures are Jeremiah 1:5; Job 38:4,7; and Ecclesiastes 12:7. The extent of the critics' rebuttal of these scriptures is to contend that the LDS interpretations are incorrect, and offer differing interpretations. A deeper examination of those scriptures, along with the interpretations of them, is certainly in order.
The Case of Jeremiah: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee"
In the case of Jeremiah 1:5, the critics assert that the scripture is a reference to God's foreknowledge, and not to a personal knowledge of humans. Granting that God has limitless foreknowledge does not preclude a personal knowledge of individual humans, however. The critics do not refute the possibility of such knowledge, instead opting to say (in effect) "No, that can't be it." Such assertions, while they may be comforting to the critics and sufficient in their own estimation, do not preclude the acceptability of the LDS interpretation of the scripture at hand.
It is hard to deny the specificity of words used in the Jeremiah passage:
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
Notice three key words here: knew, sanctified, and ordained. The wording itself indicates that God literally knew Jeremiah and was familiar with his spiritual attitudes and abilities. In addition, God sanctified Jeremiah, a description not of foreknowledge but of an actual event with participants present. The process of sanctification, or setting something apart as holy, by definition requires that something (such as Jeremiah himself) be present to be set apart. Likewise, the act of ordaining a person—in this case a prophet—requires that the individual be present. These acts—sanctification and ordination—are not mental exercises, but actual events.
Indeed, other modern Christian scholars have chosen to acknowledge the claim that Jeremiah 1:5 speaks of more than mere foreknowledge. In reference to the concept of premortal life, William de Arteaga stated:
"This question was hotly debated by Christians of late antiquity, and the faction of the Church which was bitterly opposed to preexistence gained the upper hand. By the sixth century belief in preexistence was declared heresy. All of this is quite astonishing in view of the clear and repeated biblical evidence for preexistence."
The event referred to in the sixth century was an edict by Pope Vigilius in AD 543 that rejected the doctrine of preexistence taught by Origen of Alexandria. Historical records indicate that the edict, called Anathemas Against Origen, was actually penned by the Roman emperor, Justinian, and signed by the pope and other bishops present at the Second Council of Constantinople. Tales of the relationships between early popes and Roman emperors make for great reading. The relationship between Pope Vigilius and Emperor Justinian is no exception. Many records indicate that the anathemas declared against Origen had their roots in political posturing regarding doctrines of the early church. Regardless, many scholars regard the papal edict in AD 543 as the reason that the concept of preexistence is generally considered extrabiblical today. It is clear from the record that before this time the concept was freely taught by many within the church.
The Case of Job: ""Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?"
When it comes to the trials of Job and the discussions that God had with Job, it seems that the critics are actually the ones taking scripture out of context. They are quick to cite the rhetorical nature of the questions posed to Job, but slow to understand the concepts being conveyed by the Lord through such literary means. Just take a look at Job 38:1-7:
"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
"Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
"Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
In the course of reproving Job, the Lord indicates several key pieces of knowledge. First of all, in verse four the Lord asks "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" Such a question, by its very nature, implies that Job was somewhere. Why would God ask Job a question which was not instructive, and why would the ancient scribes include the discourse if something could not be learned? The critics indicate that the assertion that Job had to be somewhere (thereby supporting preexistence) presupposes that preexistence is a fact. Such circular reasoning can be just as easily applied to the position taken by the critics: one can only interpret the verse as saying that Job was not present when God laid the foundations of the earth if one presupposes that the spirits of men had no premortal life.
Thus, both interpretations can be seen to be on an equal footing when the singular verse is examined. The Lord, however, does not leave the matter alone for long. In further questioning Job, he asks (in essence) where Job was "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Here, again, is the assertion that Job had to be somewhere. Not just Job, however, but the morning stars and the sons of God. And these were not silent participants in the framing of the world, but singers and shouters, indicating they were possessed of independent capabilities of thought and action. Taken together, these two verses provide a strong case for the concept of a premortal life.
The Case of Ecclesiastes: "the spirit shall return unto God who gave it"
Finally, the critics indicate that Latter-day Saints see Ecclesiastes 12:7 as a reference to "the second leg of a 'round trip' passage." While this may be an amusing way to discredit the LDS concept, it is not nearly as easy to avoid the specific language of the verse:
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
The simple question remains as to how something could return to a point it had not been to before. If the scripture is best translated, as the authors assert, as only having reference to returning to a God who created the spirit, then the only difference between their understanding and that of the LDS is a matter of timing. We believe that God created the spirit of man—just that it was done long before the mortal birth. Either way, the spirit still returns home to God.
But there is a deeper problem with the interpretation of this scripture offered by the critics. By rejecting the concept of premortal existence, the authors swallow the concept that the spirit of man springs into existence at some time between conception and birth. If the scripture is to be interpreted literally, and as a parallel linguistic construction, then dust returns to dust, as it was without life, and spirit returns to its former uncreated condition, meaning without life as well. Thus, the problem is that the scripture could just as easily be used to justify a doctrine of there being no life after death.
Question: Did Jesus and the apostles believe in pre-mortal life?
"Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Note the exchange between Jesus and his disciples recorded in John 9:1–2:
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
"And his disciples asked him, saying Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Was this a rhetorical question on the part of the disciples? No, the question indicated that the disciples thought one possible answer to the blindness of the man was that he had sinned. Since he was born blind—a fact the record indicates that both Jesus and His disciples knew—then the wording of the question indicates that the sinning must have taken place before the birth of the man, by the man himself. How could the man have sinned, resulting in a punishment of being blind at birth, unless he had lived before he was born?
If the concept of a premortal life was in error, then the Master Teacher had a perfect opportunity to correct His students
Jesus' answer is recorded in John 9:3:
"Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
Jesus then proceeded to heal the man, foregoing any opportunity to correct the concept of the man having lived before birth. Instead, He acknowledged the concept by saying that the man had not sinned. In the words of one non-LDS scholar:
"The question posed by the disciples explicitly presupposed prenatal existence. It will be also noted that Christ says nothing to dispel or correct the presupposition. Here is incontrovertible support for a doctrine of human preexistence.
"It is perfectly reasonable to surmise on the basis of this episode that Jesus and his followers accepted preexistence and thought so little of it that the question of prenatal sin did not even call for an answer."
There are other scriptures in the Bible that can be used to support the concept of a premortal life. Suffice it to say that for the time being, however, the words of God and Jesus may be sufficient to the task at hand. The critics' charges of taking scripture out of context notwithstanding, there is a reasonable basis for at least recognizing a biblical basis for the doctrine of a preexistence.
Question: What does Latter-day Saint revelation say about pre-mortal life?
Those who believe in continuing revelation are left with no doubt as to the veracity of premortal life
While the biblical record is extensive for at least acknowledging the possibility of life before life, those who believe in continuing revelation are left with no doubt as to the veracity of premortal life. The critics may question why the doctrine of premortal life wasn't taught from the very beginnings of the restoration (in the very first years of the LDS Church), but such is the nature of continuing revelation—it allows the mysteries of the Lord to be revealed as the people are ready to hear, understand, and accept the concepts being taught by the Lord.
In their treatment of the topic at hand, the critics already made reference to some of the scriptural references that support the doctrine. In Abraham 3:22–23 the Lord is speaking to Abraham and revealing His plan for His children:
"Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
"And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born."
Can there be any doubt that Abraham understood who he was, as one of God's children, and that God had a plan for him? In fact, it is interesting to note that this scripture is consistent with the earlier discussion of Jeremiah 1:5. God, in consistent manner, revealed to two prophets that they had been with God before they were born and they were there chosen to fulfill their prophetic missions on an earth that had yet to be created.
"For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth"
"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;"
Here, again, there is little doubt as to where man fits into the overall economy of God's plan. God created His children before sending them to earth; they were with Him in the preexistence.
"And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God"
References to premortal life are not limited to the teachings of the ancient prophets among those in the Middle East, as recorded in the Pearl of Great Price. Indeed, ancient prophets in the Americas also understood and taught the concept. One such prophet was Alma, who recorded these words in Alma 13:3–7:
"And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
"And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
"Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—
"And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
"This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—"
Here we learn several things. First, that priesthood power is eternal, being an order that "was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years." We also learn that certain men—priesthood holders—were "called and prepared from the foundation of the world." In other words, these people existed with God in the premortal life and were prepared to come to earth, bear the priesthood, and teach God's children. Why? Because God's foreknowledge allowed Him to understand the need for such preparation and such priesthood holders.
These verses also make reference to "the first place." In our modern-day vernacular, we often use the phrase "in the first place" when we are about to list off items in some manner. This common usage often blinds us to the fact that "the first place" is primarily just that—a place first among several. Alma refers to the priesthood holders being "in the first place" and left to choose good and evil. They chose good over evil, showed "exceedingly great faith," and were prepared for missions here on earth. Others present at that first place, given the same opportunities, did not respond in kind and so were not given the same preparation and calling.
Such a scenario is reminiscent of the account in Abraham, where he was informed that the Lord stood among leaders prepared before the foundation of the world, and that Abraham was one of those leaders.
Joseph Smith taught that man lived before coming to earth
Finally, the prophet Joseph Smith taught that man lived before coming to earth. D&C 49:17 records a revelation of the Savior in which it is stated that man was created "before the world was made." Later, in D&C 93:29, the Lord revealed "man was also in the beginning with God."
Prophets today continue to teach the glorious truth that we are children of loving heavenly parents. We lived before we came to this world, we can know God while in this life, and we have the opportunity to be with God after we leave this mortal sphere. In late 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve unitedly stated:
"All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
"In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life."
To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here
- Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101. Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), 68-69. ( Index of claims ) This wiki page was initially prepared as a direct response to the book, though it has since been expanded. (It is interesting to note that McKeever and Johnson presume to speak for the entire panoply of Christianity with all its myriad denominations and sects. Verbiage such as this also accentuates the assumption on the part of the authors that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian.) For a book length discussion of this charge, see Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1993). off-site FairMormon link.
- For other treatments of this topic, see relevant discussions in: Richard R. Hopkins Biblical Mormonism (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, 1994).;Brent L. Top The Life Before (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988).; Truman G. Madsen in Eternal Man (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1966).; Joseph Fielding Smith in Man, His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954).; Boyd K. Packer in Our Father's Plan (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1984).; Barry R. Bickmore, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity (Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 1999)..
- William Wordsworth (1770–1850), Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.
- Clement of Alexandria, in Patrologiae… Graeca, 8:321, as cited by Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 228.
- Origen, Peri Archon, in Patrologiae… Graeca 9:230–231, as cited by Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 230. It is not the purpose here to debate or justify Origen's belief in a judgment before coming to Earth. Instead, this evidence is presented in substantiation of the historical acceptability—indeed, the historical teaching—of the concept of premortal life.
- Wars of the Jews, Chapter VIII, 11. translated by William Whiston, A.M., in The Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981), 478.
- William de Arteaga, Past Life Visions: A Christian Exploration (New York: Seabury Press, 1983), 127, as quoted by Brent L. Top The Life Before (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 25.
- Justinian was not a nice man regarding those who disagreed with him theologically. One author reports the following concerning the emperor: "Savage penalties were more loudly advertised by the impatient autocracy of the emperors, to offset the irremediable venality and favoritism of their servants. The means of persecution available to the church thus had more of an edge. Especially so under Justinian (527–565). A brutally energetic, or energetically brutal, ruler enjoying a very long reign, he pursued the goal of religious uniformity as no one before him. … He did not see it as murder if the victims did not share his own beliefs. …Those he disagreed with he was likely to mutilate if he didn't behead or crucify them..." [Ramsay MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (Yale University Press, 1997), 26-27.]
- This Council, sometimes referred to as the Fifth Ecumenical Council, was held in AD 553. It was the council at which the anathemas, penned and signed some ten years earlier, were formally adopted. The official document labeled Origen's teachings heresy and forbid them being taught in the church.
- Note, however, that the wording used in the scripture is "gave," not "created." This same translation carries not only in the King James version of the Bible, but in the Amplified, New American Standard, New International, and New Revised Standard versions, as well.
- Exact timing is not critical; the issue is whether life exists before life.
- This position is supported by other scriptures in which the apostles reference sinning in a period before birth. In 2 Peter 2:4, Peter references "angels that sinned," and Jude alluded to the same even in Jude 6. Both have reference to the concept of the first estate—or premortal existence—as understood in LDS doctrine.
- Quincy Howe, Jr., Reincarnation for the Christian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974), 92–93, as quoted by Brent L. Top The Life Before (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 30.
- It should also be obvious to the astute reader that critics set themselves up to speak for all of Christendom in their exposition of doctrine. This position, in light of the analysis presented in this document from other Christian scholars (both ancient and modern), may be presumptive on their part. If there are other Christian thinkers who disagree with the critics concerning at least the possibility of premortal life, then how is it possible for the authors to speak for Christians as a whole and set those Christians at odds with the LDS position?
- Abraham is a book within the Pearl of Great Price, one of the revealed works accepted as official canon by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Moses is another book within the Pearl of Great Price, accepted and regarded as scripture by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- The book of Moses was translated by Joseph Smith beginning in June 1830, shortly after the Book of Mormon was published. Any argument that the doctrine of premortal life was not taught in the early years of the LDS Church would seem to be called into question by this fact. While the doctrine may not have been stressed, the clear scriptural basis for the doctrine was already available within the Church within a few months of its organization.
- Alma was a prophet who lived and taught among Book of Mormon peoples shortly before the birth of the Savior.
- Many of the revelations given to Joseph Smith, as well as some other latter-day prophets, are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (often abbreviated D&C). This book constitutes one of the official canons of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- This revelation was received March 1831 in Kirtland, Ohio, less than one year after the official organization of the Church.
- This revelation was received May 6, 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio.
- The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are two organizational structures within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each group is composed of men called as Apostles, with the same calling issued by the Savior to his own Apostles. They are special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the Apostles is called by the Lord (typically the Apostle with the most seniority) to preside as President of the Church. Two additional Apostles serve as his counselors and assist him. These three comprise the First Presidency. Members of both the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are accepted and sustained by members of the Church as prophets, seers, and revelators.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Family: A Proclamation to the World (First read by Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held 23 September 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.)