Chapter 7 of the Teachings of George Albert Smith is entitled “The Immortality of the Soul”. Instead of focusing on one topic, I’m going to comment on three different things mentioned in that chapter.
First of all, it was somewhat surprising to see Lorenzo Snow’s famous couplet (As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become) quoted in an official manual copyrighted in 2011. There has been a trend over the last years for official Mormonism, and many Mormons, to distance themselves from that couplet – especially the part that says that God was once a man. Fewer things more clearly demonstrate the wide divide between Mormonism and Christianity than their respective views of the origins of God. Christianity sees him as always existing as God. It never sees him being anything less than God. On this most important point of who God is, there is nothing comparable between Mormonism and Christianity.
This chapter also talks about Mormonism’s belief in the pre-existence and the belief that their worthiness there “earned them the privilege of coming to this earth”. “We believe that our very existence is a reward for our faithfulness before we came here.” (p.70) What is implied is that many didn’t get that reward, namely Lucifer and 1/3 of the spirit children that followed him. I bring that up because many times Mormonism talks about how wrong it is to teach that God will send many people to hell. For example, in the Feb. 2012 edition of the Ensign, one of Mormonism’s 12 Apostles, states in regard to what Christianity teaches about people going to hell: “One of the great distortions of the Apostasy was that it cast God the Father’s plan of salvation as overwhelming harsh.” (p.36)
But, as one of my colleagues pointed out to me, according to Mormonism, Heavenly Father banished no less than 1/3 of all his spirit children to outer darkness – after just one act of disobedience on their part! Doesn’t that fit Mormonism’s own description of being “overwhelming harsh”? Where was the mercy offered them? How can Mormonism claim that Heavenly Father will only send a few to outer darkness? After all, Mormonism says those 1/3 were his very own spirit children.
Another thing this chapter talks about is the purpose for being here on earth. “We are here to prepare ourselves and develop ourselves and qualify ourselves to be worthy to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father.” This, to me, is the deadliest statement of all. For it directs people to themselves (note the three “ourselves’). They are to prepare themselves. They are to develop themselves. They are to qualify themselves. It’s all about them.
But it really is all about Jesus. It’s all about him paying for all our sins. It’s all about him keeping all the commandments perfectly for us. It’s all about him doing everything for us. It’s all about how he qualified me to be worthy to dwell in Heavenly Father’s presence. That’s my reason for being on earth. To trust and glorify him as my Savior – my Savior who did it all for me. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.