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The following is what they say. "Under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth (see Mosiah 3:8; Moses 2:1). From scripture revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we know that in the work of the Creation, the Lord organized elements that had already existed (see Abraham 3:24). He did not create the world “out of nothing,” as some people believe. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/creation?lang=eng

If Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth under the direction of God the Father how do they reconcile this with Isaiah 44:24? "Thys says the Lord your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens BY MYSELF, And spreading out the earth ALL ALONE."

Also, according to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it says, "He/God did not create the world "out of nothing," as some people believe but God "organized the elements that already existed.'

Notice that at Isaiah 44:24 it says, "I am the maker of all things." Would that not include the elements? That word "maker" literally means "Fashioner." The following site/Lexicon explains how the word is used. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3335&t=KJV

Then there is Hebrews 11:3, "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen WAS NOT MADE OUT OF THINGS WHICH ARE VISIBLE." I'm basically asking two questions? One, how is Jesus being directed in creating the heavens and the earth when God clearly says He created all alone and by Himself? Two, on what basis do you come to the conclusion that God organized the elements that had already existed? How do you know they already existed?

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    Are you looking for a Latter-day Saint answer to the question, or an argument against a Latter-day Saint perspective? May 28 at 0:16
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    @HoldToTheRod I would prefer LDS answers but anyone is permitted to answer. I'm not really sure how many LDS are around on stack exchange.
    – Mr. Bond
    May 28 at 0:30
  • Thanks for asking, it's an insightful question, upvoted +1. I've encountered a few Latter-day Saints on SE-Christianity. I've never encountered another Latter-day Saint on SE-Biblical Hermeneutics. May 28 at 2:44
  • @Mr.Bond I have noticed several active ones, including top LDS posters. depperm, kutschkem and JBH are still active although not as they used to be. May 28 at 3:38
  • The perspective should normally be that of the LDS, as the question is tagged thus.
    – Ken Graham
    May 29 at 15:24
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1. How is Jesus being directed in creating the heavens and the earth when God clearly says He created all alone and by Himself?

Isaiah is specifically speaking to encourage Israel to stop worshipping other divine beings/idols but to worship Yahweh alone.

Isaiah 44:6, 8-10,17,19:

6 Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

19 And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

At first glance such language as no God beside me might be interpreted by some to mean that no other form of deity exits at all (including exalted man), but considering similar passages in other parts of scripture its clear that this type of interpretation is incorrect. For example in Isaiah 47:8-10 depicts the city of Babyon with the similar phrasing, but there are other cities such as Ninevah (which also has similar phrasing in Zephaniah 2:15):

8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the bloss of children:

9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

Isaiah is speaking specifically against idols in the section, not the singularity of being of God.

2. On what basis do you come to the conclusion that God organized the elements that had already existed? How do you know they already existed?

Referencing the same lexicon seems to indicate organizing as opposed to creation ex-nihilo

Root Word: Probably identical with יָצַר (H3334) (through the squeezing into shape)

Outline of Biblical Usage:

  • to form, fashion frame
  • (Qal) to form, fashion
    • of divine activity
    • of creation
  • (Niphal) to be formed, be created
  • (Pual) to be predetermined, be pre-ordained
  • (Hophal) to be formed

Strong's definition: yatsar; probably identical with H3334 (through the squeezing into shape); to mould into a form; especially as a potter; figuratively, to determine: earthen, fashion, form, frame, make, potter, purpose

Several scriptures let us know material is eternal:

Abraham 3:24:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

D&C 93:33

33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

Several prophets have stated similar. Joseph Smith in the King Follett Sermon stated:

You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.

Hebrews 11:3 is not about inventing beliefs, but about putting our trust in God, based on what we can see, in order to rely on Him in areas where we cannot see.1 See Hebrews 11:1

1 BibleRef

All emphasis added by me

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I'll offer an answer in two parts:

  1. A discussion of creation ex-nihilo
  2. The pre-mortal role of Jesus

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Creation ex-nihilo

As noted in the OP, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not accept creation ex-nihilo. Members of the church hold that creation ex-nihilo is neither taught in the canonical scriptures (for Latter-day Saints that's the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price), nor in the teachings of modern prophets (we believe God speaks through an authorized spokesperson today, just like He did through Moses or Isaiah--that's Joseph Smith and his successors up to the present-day President of the church, Russell M. Nelson).

One of the most direct discussions of creation ex-nihilo comes from Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse (I readily recognize that among many of my fellow Christians, this is considered to be among the least popular speeches ever given). I'm offering a Latter-day Saint perspective here, and Latter-day Saints consider Joseph Smith a prophet in every sense of the word that Moses was.

From the King Follett discourse:

You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.

Additional scriptural statements include:

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (Doctrine & Covenants 93:29)

The elements are eternal (Doctrine & Covenants 93:33)

Thus "create" is understood in the sense that the word is used in virtually all non-theological discussions--"create" means to organize. In the process, the creation is often imbued with attributes it did not previously have.

Blake Ostler has written extensively in defense of this view--here are 3 of his major arguments:

Most Latter-day Saints reject creation ex-nihilo because they have a personal testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith, and therefore conclude that God has given them reason to trust the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith (for a Biblical parallel, this is like saying most Christians believe the Gospel is intended for both Jews & Gentiles, because they believe what was recorded by Luke, Paul, etc.).

A few Latter-day Saints have additionally explored the history and the philosophy of creation ex-nihilo and reject it on those grounds as well.

Since this is a Christianity site, I'll refer the reader to the links above for the philosophy and focus here on what is taught in the Bible.

From Ostler:

There are three words in Hebrew scripture that can be translated in English as create. [b_r_’, ‘asah, yatsar]...But a sharp distinction between organizing preexisting material for ‘asah and absolute creation where before there was nothing in any sense for b_r_’ is simply an oversimplification. God made Israel out of preexisting people [Isaiah 43:15] and a clean heart out of an existing heart [Psalms 51:12]

On the other hand, these three verbs are often used interchangeably and in parallel structures showing that they have essentially the same semantic field. In Hebrew poetry, when words are placed in a parallel form (parallelismus membrorum is the technical term) the words are often used as synonyms or antonyms. For example, Isaiah 43:6-7 says:

Bring my sons from far,

and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

even every one that is called by my name:

for I have created (b_r_’ ) him for my glory,

I have formed (yatsar) him;

yea, I have made (‘asah) him.

Isaiah uses all three words for create to describe what God has done for those called by his name. Moreover, none of these uses of the word create in Hebrew mean to create ex nihilo, for they address how God has taken an existing person and created a new personality in that person to manifest his glory. Consider also Psalm 51:10 which uses the verb b_r_’ : “Create (b_r_’ ) in me a clean heart, O God; and renew my spirit within me.” In Psalm 33:15 the same thought is expressed using the verb yatsar: “He fashioneth (yatsar) their hearts alike, he considereth all their works.” The verbs b_r_’ and yatsar appear to be used interchangeably or as synonyms.

...

[B]oth b_r_’ and ‘asah are used in parallel form in Isaiah 45:12 to describe the creation of the earth and man: “I have made (‘asah) the earth and created (b_r_’ ) man upon it.” In the same chapter of Isaiah, God is said to create (yatsar ) the earth: “God himself that formed (yatsar) the earth and made (‘asah) it; he created (b_r_’ ) it not in vain, he formed (yatsar) it to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:7, 18) It is abundantly clear from this verse that b_r_’ , yatsar and ‘asah are used interchangeably, for God creates the earth in all three senses.

...

However, the use of the verb b_r_’ does show that God accomplished a marvelous act of creation with absolute ease by speaking and dividing asunder preexisting realities. God makes by dividing asunder. He created Israel by separating her from the existing nations in the same way that he created the earth by dividing it from the primeval watery chaos. In Hebrew thought, the cosmic world mirrors the social structure of the Israelite nation. They were brought out of a state of chaos and a desert waste to a sacred society ordered by God’s law and covenant. However, there is always the threat of returning to this chaos if Israel rejects God. Joseph Smith’s assertion that the verb b_r_’ as used in Genesis 1:1 means that God organized a preexisting chaos is actually quite plausible in context. (see section 3.1 here)

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A brief discussion of Hebrews 11:3 as requested in the comments:

Another translation states: “It is by faith that we understand that the ages were created by a word from God, so that from the invisible the visible world came to be.” What this text says is that God created visible things literally “from” invisible things (eis to me ek fainomenon to blepomenon gegonenai). However, the invisible things are not nothing; they already exist (section 4.0 here)

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It is also worthwhile to trace the origins of creation ex-nihilo in Christian thought. One more quote from Ostler:

It is extremely significant that when the first “scriptural” arguments in history were formulated to support the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo by Irenaeus (about 185 A.D.) and Origen (220 A.D.) they do not cite scriptures from the canon accepted by evangelicals and Mormons. Rather, they cite The Shepherd of Hermas and 2 Maccabees 7:28. The reason they cite these texts rather than other scriptures is obvious – they did not know of any scriptures which supported the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. It is ironic therefore that even these two texts do not teach the dogma of creatio ex nihilo. It is also significant that Hermas adopts the technical language for creation from relative non-being ek tou me ontos which makes it fairly clear that God created what is from potential being, not from absolute nothing or ex nihilo. (see section 5.1 here)

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The pre-mortal role of Jesus

The first Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states:

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

Latter-day Saints believe that they are 3 separate and distinct Beings, who are united in mission and purpose. Latter-day Saints understand God as a title, not a personal name, and definitively believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ. In the title page to the Book of Mormon the prophet Moroni summarized purposes of the book, including the statement:

to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God

The church's website offers a summary of its view of the Godhead here.

Latter-day Saints believe that the entire human family existed pre-mortally, and in the Deity of Christ prior to His birth. Specifically, Latter-day Saints believe that Jehovah is not the name of God the Father, but rather is the pre-mortal name of Jesus.

It was Jesus--Jehovah as He was known then--who as the perfect representative of His Father and a God in His own right, gave commandments to Moses. It was Jehovah who created the earth, under the direction of God the Father.

Isaiah 44:24:

Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

In the Latter-day Saint view there is no conflict here. Jehovah (the Son of God the Father), who would later in mortality be known as Jesus of Nazareth, is speaking here. He is the Redeemer and the Creator.

Let's briefly disambiguate what is meant by father:

  • The Father of our spirits (God the Father)
  • The Father of creation (Jehovah/Jesus)
  • The Father of our salvation (Jehovah/Jesus)
  • The father of a human body (God the Father to Jesus, your Dad to you, me to my children)

We believe in the Deity of Jehovah/Jesus, and that He is fully aligned with and obedient to the plan of God the Father, who is the Father of our spirits, the Father of Jesus' spirit, and the Father of Jesus' physical body.

It may be appropriate to say that God the Father is the architect who designed the universe and the plan of salvation, and the Jesus is the builder who made it a reality.

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Conclusion

Latter-day Saints believe that Jehovah, who in mortality would be known as Jesus of Nazareth, created the world under the direction of His Father. We believe that "create" in both the Old & New Testaments (and the Book of Mormon if anyone is counting), describes not a creation out of nothing, but an organization of eternal elements.


Disclaimer (yes I'm including it again! =) ) - my comments are the product of my own study and do not constitute official statements by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Disclaimer 2 - I'm happy to dialogue with other users, but will offer a friendly reminder that argumentum ad hominem is a logical fallacy. Please be kind.

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    I do not see that this answers the question. In particular, there is simply a contradiction of Hebrews 11:3. Faith understands that all that was created was created out of that which is not apparent. To say that 'elements' (carbon, hydgrogen, oxygen //quarks, leptons ?) 'existed eternally' is an unreconcilable contradiction to Hebrews 11:3. That was the crux of the OP and that has not been addressed, biblically.
    – Nigel J
    May 28 at 6:57
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    @NigelJ I respectfully disagree, the crux of the question is: I'm basically asking two questions? One, how is Jesus being directed in creating the heavens and the earth when God clearly says He created all alone and by Himself? Two, on what basis do you come to the conclusion that God organized the elements that had already existed? How do you know they already existed? Both were answered in my post. Per your request though I have also added a brief discussion of Hebrews 11:3. May 28 at 13:20

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