What's the official name (if any) of the teaching that the soul of a man exists even before he is conceived and that at the moment of conception his soul gets simply "connected" to his newly conceived body as opposed to the idea of the soul of a man being created at that very moment?

Is it true that this teaching was deemed by the Church (Catholic or Orthodox or by the Church before 1054) as a heresy and, thus, was condemned?

EDIT: In case it is important, I am talking about the teaching that the soul of each human was at one point created by God - perhaps, all of the humans' souls were created at once - prior to his or her physical birth on this earth.


2 Answers 2


Sounds like you are referring to the idea of the pre-existence of souls. This idea is lumped with "Origenism". Check this thread out here: What is " Origenism"

This is an excerpt from orthodoxwiki.org/Apocatastasis:

The anathemas of the local Council of Constantinople in 453, which is understood by most commentators to be confirmed by the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553, posthumously excommunicated Origen and anyone following specific points of his teachings. These anathemas condemned his protology of pre-existent souls and his eschatology of universal restoration of all things "which follows from" his protology:

If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema. (First anathema against Origen)


One of the earlier users of the site called me out on this, she called it preexistence. I don't think its right to lump it in to Origenism and call it Origenism any more than calling belief in consubstantiation Lutheranism. But i think you could call denial of the Theotokos, Nestorianism because that's all we remember that he got wrong (although I think that's a pretty naive thing to say, but I'm just painting a picture here).

In any event, our souls are created with our bodies in our mothers womb. How God knew us before He knit us up in there is His business.

  • 1
    "In any event, our souls are created with our bodies in our mothers womb" - How do we know that?
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 10:18
  • newadvent.org/summa/1090.htm#article4 here's the summa article for that.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 1:53
  • (1) I've re-read your link number of times, but still didn't get the logic there. For example, this: "Now the soul, as a part of human nature, has its natural perfection only as united to the body. Therefore it would have been unfitting for the soul to be created without the body". I don't get this logic. How does the fact that the soul gets its "natural perfection" only as united to the body proves that it was not created without a body first?
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 8:16
  • (2) After all, there were many things pertaining to the human nature that were not immediately in the state of their "natural perfection" right at the moment of creation. Take or example humans’ ability for childbearing. Humans did not start giving birth to other humans right after they were created. In fact, it even took God to tell them “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” before they could give a birth to their first child.
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 8:17
  • (3) You could tell that their ability for childbearing came into the state of its "natural perfection" when they gave a birth to their first child, but does it really mean that they only acquired this ability at the very moment of giving a birth? I guess they already had this ability in them when they were created. For sure, when God was commanding them to be fruitful and multiply, they already had this ability in them, otherwise it would’ve been rather unfair for God to command them to do something that they weren’t naturally able to do.
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 8:17

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