When Heavenly Father Wasn’t
Posted by BrianJ on October 8, 2008
Central to our theology are the doctrines of Heavenly Father as the creator of our spirits and the need for agency. God created our spirits and we chose to come to earth and gain a physical body.
But did we always have that kind of agency?
I started thinking about this a few weeks ago while studying the Joseph Smith manual (CH 17). Some relevant quotes (a mishmash):
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
Where did [the soul—the mind of man—the immortal spirit] come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better.
Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end
I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.
Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself….
A couple of points, to reveal my understanding:
- We are intelligences inside of spirits inside of physical bodies (insert matryoshka doll image here!)
- Our bodies and spirits were created, but our intelligence has always existed
- God is the creator—and in at least that sense “father”—of our spirits
- We chose to gain a physical body
So here’s my question: Did we choose to gain a spiritual body? God became our Father when he created us spriritually; prior to that moment, I do not see how he was our father (or even god, for that matter). How did he go about selecting which intelligences would be ‘advanced’ into spirits and which would not? Did he make the selection, or did we as intelligences choose?
If we didn’t choose to become spirits, what does that say about the choice that faced us later? We could either follow God or face outer darkness (hardly a choice, if you ask me). If we did choose to become spirits, what does that say about agency? We had agency before we were subject to God (!).