Elder Neal A. Maxwell: Premortality

I am always humbled when I read or hear one of Elder Maxwell’s talks. He had the gift of poetic speech that got right to the point.

In his talk on premortality in 1985, his gifts were as evident as ever. His words are worth going back and reading carefully to pull every morsel of truth possible from them. I am

His words are worth going back and reading carefully to pull every morsel of truth possible from them. I am only going to touch on a couple of points.

Defying Logic vs. Needing More than Logic

As he began speaking about our belief in existing before we came to earth, elder Maxwell makes several points and concludes with the idea that premortality doesn’t defy logic, but it does require more than logic to accept.

I’m wondering if that is an answer that I have been seeking for years — why some people are able to receive the truth of the Restored Gospel while others walk away. It is so easy to establish a baseline that we will only believe what we can logically define. If we make only a slight twist to true doctrine, we can even believe that we have a right to demand a logical basis. In the hymn “O, My Father” is a line that clearly states truth is reason!

Maybe Elder Maxwell was giving us a key that flew under the radar for most of us: true doctrine will never defy logic. However, because the Lord needs to develop our faith, it will always require more than logic to accept it.

The Floodgates of Heaven

Another part of this talk refers to the amount of revelation that Joseph Smith received. Critics of the church often point out (in hindsight, of course) that things that the prophet revealed were available or were things that the prophet could have known. Sometimes, these critics are obviously in error because their sources post-date the life of the Prophet Joseph. Other times, the claims seem plausible.

What Elder Maxwell points out is how rapidly these truths were raining down from heaven. Because these truths were so foreign to the religious traditions of Joseph and his followers, the fact that they actually have ancient ties could only have been realized when the dust figuratively settled.

We truly are blessed to be living in the latter days.


I love how the Lord inspires his prophets and apostles to weave so much truth into so few words. While Elder Maxwell focused on the plausibility of our declaration that each person had a premortal existence, he left other precious gems of truth scattered throughout his words.