Elder Bednar on “spiritual creation”

As far as I can tell, there is neither established doctrine nor GA agreement on what “spiritual creation” constitutes, nor on the nature of each account in our dual-creation accounts (ie. Genesis 1-2:4, 2:4ff.) I did a good bit of research on the topic in preparing a presentation a few months ago.

In the recent broadcast Stake Conference, Elder Bednar said something that struck me as relevant to the first question above. I had my laptop, and I typed it down word-for-word, or as close as I could get.

“Morning prayer is the spiritual creation of our day.”

Though from context he intended this to be about the importance of beginning the day with prayer, I think it also implies that he holds spiritual creation to be nothing more than the mental planning stage of creation, the blueprints, as it were. (There are interesting visuals suggesting this in the filmed editions of the Endowment. Beyond that, however, the version of creation in the temple combines elements from the dual accounts in the scriptures, and does not have a dual account the way Genesis does.)

I suspect that this is not how most members understand “spiritual creation” but given my experiences and education, I no longer trust my own intuitions about what the average English-speaking member thinks.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Elder Bednar on “spiritual creation”

  1. Interesting insight.

    Abraham 4 is actually the planning session for the creation. The chapter heading says as much:

    The Gods plan the creation of the earth and all life thereon—Their plans for the six days of creation are set forth.

  2. Interesting.

    That would be Elder McConkie’s understanding, then, since he was responsible for all the chapter headings.

    “QUESTION: Who is responsible for the little informational headings preceding each chapter in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price?

    ROBERT J. MATTHEWS: I would be glad to tell you who did that… I think it would be no breach of etiquette or of confidentiality if I were to say with pleasure that Elder Bruce R. McConkie produced those headings.” in “The JST: Retrospect and Prospect—A Panel” Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things,
    ed. Robert L. Millet, Monte S. Nyman, p. 300-301.

    Elder McConkie’s take on those headings and other things added to the scriptures in 1981 was that they were fallible and non-binding.

    Regarding “the Joseph Smith Translation items, the chapter headings, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, footnotes, the Gazeteer, and the maps [he says that]
    None of these are perfect; they do not of themselves determine doctrine; there have been and undoubtedly now are mistakes in them. Cross-references, for instance, do not establish and never were intended to prove that parallel passages so much as pertain to the same subject. They are aids and helps only.”

    Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 289-290.

  3. It could mean that. I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the insight.

  4. I don’t think I’m following. I think most members read Abraham 4 according to BRM’s headings, which seems consistent with the notion of spiritual creation that Elder Bednar was proposing. Are you, Nitsav, saying that you think most members have a different view, or am I misunderstanding something?

  5. Robert, in doing my research, I called up several church members and said “what do you understand by the phrase ‘spiritual creation’?” Mostly, they equate it with pre-mortal existence and spirit-birth, long long antedating the physical creation.

    Reading the first half of dual-creation narratives isn’t consistant with Joseph Smith. I also don’t understand how E. McConkie is consistant with himself, since he, following his father-in-law, flatly stated that we have no account of the spiritual creation.

  6. I should point out, to be fair, that no matter what interpretation one gives to a portion of the dual creation accounts or to “spiritual creation,” I will point out what GA’s have contradicted said interpretation 🙂

  7. BRoz

    Well we know that Christ appeared to the Brother of Jared and his spirit was in the likeness of his mortal body. I don’t have a problem when what E. Bednar is saying. I think there is a lot of truth in his statement. I think the spiritual creation can be understood in both a literal and figerative sense like most things in the scriptures (1Ne 15:32). (current religion always seems to take and either/or stance when all-of-the-above is just as reasonable).

  8. Mark D.

    It seems to me that the text of the Book of Abraham only has one unified account, not two.

    In the case of Genesis, there is textual evidence that we have two different accounts written by different authors (cf. the Documentary Hypothesis).

    The first account consistently refers to the Creator as “God” (Heb: “elohim”). The second account consitently refers to the Creator as “LORD God” (Heb: “Yahovah elohim”).

  9. If you want a good laugh, go check out the heading to 1 Samuel 24 – “David finds Saul asleep in a cave…” So what was a euphemism for defecation (Heb. “to cover one’s feet”) has now been double-euphemized into “sleeping.” Nice… Actually, I ate a lot of beans for dinner, so excuse me while I go “sleep it off…” 😉

    Also, BRM couldn’t be more wrong with the heading to Nahum 1.

  10. Oh, it seems there are two different (though perhaps related) issues here: spiritual creation of the earth vs. spiritual creation of our spirits. I would guess there’s a wide variety of views regarding the latter, but that most members believe the “blueprint version” of the former (following the temple, and based on the first few verses of Abraham 5 and Moses 3:5, esp. b/c of the chapter headings—but I would guess that there’s a wide variety of views on interpreting Genesis 1-2…)

  11. civicus

    that resonates with me because when I do pray in the mornings that just sets the whole tone for the rest of my day.