From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Christianson, Helen Lance
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that every person experiences a series of "births." All were born as spirit children of God in a premortal life. Second, these individual spirit children received a mortal, physical body when they were born on earth. Third, those who accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ go through a process of being born again in a spiritual sense (see Born of God). Although these births are real, they do not in any way constitute any type of reincarnation.
Men and women become conscious of their divine origin and birthright when they recognize their relationship with the Supreme Being, address him as Father, and become aware that in scripture God addresses mankind as his children (1 Jn. 3:1-2; Matt. 6:9).
In the Council in Heaven, God the Father offered his spirit children the opportunity to progress toward becoming like he is by leaving his presence and being born on earth in a mortal, physical body and learning to live by faith (Abr. 3:22-28). Mortal birth is the event by which one's spirit body is temporarily joined with a mortal tabernacle begotten by earthly parents. The exact time when the premortal spirit enters the unborn physical tabernacle is not specified in divine revelation. Through the Fall of Adam, and birth into mortality, mankind becomes subject to two deaths: the physical or temporal death, which is a death of the body, and the spiritual death, which is being shut out of God's presence (see Life and Death, Spiritual; Plan of Salvation, Plan of Redemption).
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all people are given opportunity to be born again in a spiritual sense as his sons and daughters so as to return to God's presence as his spiritually begotten children (Mosiah 5:7-9; Alma 5:14). The process of being born of the spirit begins when one is baptized and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. Since the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, the effects of the spiritual death, or separation between man and God, is lessened individually when one is truly born of the Spirit.
Birth as spirit beings and birth as mortals have already occurred to all of mankind on the earth. The spiritual rebirth necessary for salvation in the presence of God requires considerable additional individual effort through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Clark, J. Reuben, Jr. Man-God's Greatest Miracle. Salt Lake City, 1956.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Man, His Origin and Destiny, p. 354. Salt Lake City, 1954.
HELEN LANCE CHRISTIANSON