Archive for the 'godhood' Category

12
Apr
13

We were created to extinguish suns?

More than once I have talked about Mormonism’s teaching that people can become Gods.  I have done that because quite a few LDS members have told me that is not what it teaches.  Instead many say they won’t become a god, but they will become like God.  Others have said that only Heavenly Father is a capital G God.

Therefore whenever I run across a statement in LDS literature that states that they can become Gods I sit up and take notice.  That happened again last week as I was reading the LDS Church’s currently used manual on the Pearl of Great Price.  On page 38 it contains the following quote from Brigham Young.

“It is brought together, organized, and capacitated to receive knowledge and intelligence, to be enthroned in glory, to be made angels, Gods – beings who will hold control over the elements, and have power by their word to command the creation and redemption of worlds, or to extinguish suns by their breath, and disorganize worlds, hurling them back into their chaotic state. This is what you and I are created for.”

I don’t know about you, but I find that extremely striking. It is obvious from quotes like this that Mormonism teaches that people can become Gods.

I also find this extremely dishonoring to God.  Look at how Brigham Young puts people on the same level as the one true God.  Just like him, they can by the power of their word, create, redeem, and destroy worlds.

The God of the Bible, the one true God, is not just God of planet earth.  He is the God of the universe.  He and he alone created everything in the universe.  He and he alone has the power to extinguish suns and destroy the universe. Most importantly of all, he alone redeems people.  And he did that, not by giving people the plan and power to attain his favor, but by sending Jesus to do it all for us.  His plan of salvation is glorious – because it is worked completely by him.

The God of the Bible is so much more glorious than the god(s) of Mormonism.  May many Mormons come to see that and glorify him for that.

08
Mar
13

Becoming a God

Even though I have recently addressed this topic, I am revisiting it because it is the centerpiece of Chapter 5 of the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, a chapter that will be studied in the LDS Church this coming Sunday.  This chapter begins by quoting the famous couplet President Snow authored,

“As man now is, God once was:

As God now is, man may be.”

It then talks about how he made this the theme for his life.  It was his “constant light and guide”.  But what I found especially enlightening is that it then says that, “in this chapter, President Snow teaches the doctrine that we can become like our Heavenly Father.”  That struck me because that clearly shows, and as the rest of the chapter demonstrates, that when Mormonism talks about the possibility of becoming like God it means that they can become a god.  In other words, in the official writings of Mormonism, the two statements are synonymous.

That is important because many members of the LDS Church have given me the impression that becoming like God is less than becoming a god.  And I don’t doubt that they truly believe there is a distinction between the two.  But even a cursory reading of this chapter says differently.  Following are just some quotes I pulled from that chapter to demonstrate that.  These quotes are all an explanation of becoming like God.

“There is the nature of deity in the composition of our spiritual organization.”

“He has bestowed on us the capacity for infinite wisdom and knowledge.”  (my emphasis)

“We have divinity within ourselves.”

Heavenly Father says:  “walk ye up and come in possession of the same glory and happiness that I possess.” (my emphasis)

“becoming like unto Him in every particular”

But President Snow also states very clearly that all this is conditioned on a person’s obedience.  One quote will suffice:  “They are His children, made in His image, and destined through obedience to His laws to become like unto Him.”  Repeatedly he talks about how people can realize their divine potential IF they remain faithful and obedient.

What a contrast to biblical teaching! It speaks of a God that we can’t begin to fathom – a God that is so superior that even the angels cover their faces in his presence.  The God of the Bible is one whose both nature and works leave us speechless.  The God of the Bible stands unequalled from eternity to eternity.  Nowhere does the Bible state that we will possess the same glory as God.

But his greatest glory is his love.  The love that moved him, not to give us a plan of salvation, but salvation itself.  The love that he put into action by sending Jesus as our substitute, to do everything necessary for us to live eternally with him.  And that is what Jesus did!  He was perfectly obedient and then bestowed that righteousness on us through faith.  And then he died – not for any sins he committed – but for all the sins we have committed.  He paid the full price.  And because Jesus did it all there are now no conditions, no ifs, for us to fret over.  Instead of making eternal life with Heavenly Father conditional on our obedience, God offers it to us as his free gift.

O, what a blessing that is.  Because Jesus has already done everything for me, I am positive that right now that, in Christ, I am completely worthy and accepted to God.  Because of Jesus, I can’t wait for Judgment Day because there I know I will be lovingly accepted by God.  Because of Jesus, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I will be living with Heavenly Father forever.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts, about it.  To Him be all praise and glory!

 

22
Feb
13

Becoming a God

Over the years I have repeatedly discussed with LDS members Mormonism’s teaching about persons being able to become a god.  The reactions have been varied.  Some readily admit that this is LDS teaching and they wholeheartedly accept it.  Most, however, try to qualify it and downplay it.  They have done this in two different ways.

The first is by saying that Mormonism teaches that they can become like God.  They claim that even though LDS Scripture clearly says that people can become gods.  The classic passage is D&C 132:20:  “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power and the angels are subject to them.”

That passage clearly states, in a number of different ways, that people can become gods.  And over the years many LDS leaders have pointed to this passage to teach this doctrine.  That, I feel, is proof enough that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods, or that when it talks about becoming like god – that is what it means.

The other way that Mormons have sometimes tried to downplay this teaching is saying that they would never become a capital G God.  Instead they say that they would be small g gods, thus implying a difference between the two.  But again, the question is: Is that what Mormonism teaches?  In the student manual on the Pearl of Great Price, a manual in current use, we find this quote:  “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.” (p. 4)  Note especially the use of the capital G – “evolving into a God”.

This quote is notable for two reasons.  One is that it is used in an official LDS Church manual.  Although all Mormons do not agree on the weight that such manuals carry, the LDS Church has repeatedly said that church manuals carry a lot of weight.  They state that they present the official teaching of the church.  That is only to be expected.  The normal practice is to consider official anything that is officially published by an organization.  It would be, for example, the silliest of arguments if an NFL player argued that the rulebook published by the NFL did not represent the official rules of the NFL and thus what he did wasn’t against NFL policy.

But this quote is significant for another reason as well.  It was given by the First Presidency of the LDS.  The First Presidency is the prophet and his two counselors.  It is the most authoritative body in the LDS Church.  Even though it was given in 1909 it is still pertinent as evidenced by it being quoted in a manual published in 2000.  Without a doubt we can say that Mormonism teaches that people can become a God.

Why am I making such a big point of this?  One is because it is denied by many LDS members today and thus it needs to be stressed to get an accurate picture of Mormonism.  Two is because it is another demonstration of the great gap that exists between Mormonism and the Bible.  But most importantly of all, I am pointing this out to illustrate the stark difference between the comfort given by Mormonism and the Bible.  Look again at that quote.  “Through ages and aeons” it says they evolve into a God.  That reminds me of one LDS man telling me that it would take him 10,000 eternities to become a god.

Compare that to the wonderful comfort the Bible gives.  As soon as believers die, they enter the mind-boggling bliss of God’s presence.  Instantaneously all pain and sorrow is replaced with perfect peace and joy.  There are no eternities of evolving and work.  Instead, instantaneously, there is absolute perfection and wonderful glory.

And the best part of it all is that Jesus accomplished all this for us.  He did everything to make us acceptable to God.  In him, right now, we are perfect and worthy in God’s sight.  This heavenly bliss is his gift to us.  To him, and to him alone, be all praise and glory!

03
Apr
12

The Various Stages of Immortality

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.

04
Aug
11

GODHOOD IS NOT AN OUTDATED LDS DOCTRINE

 

Over the years, numerous Mormons have told me I was wrong when I stated that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods, while a smaller number of Mormons have said that I was correct.  This lack of agreement is understandable because this doctrine has been downplayed in recent years.  Just one example of that is the change made in Gospel Principles, the basic manual of the LDS Church.

The 1979 edition states:   “We can become Gods like our Heavenly Father.  This is exaltation.”  (p. 290).  In contrast, the 2009 edition states:  “We can become like our Heavenly Father.  This is exaltation.”  (p. 275).  Both, however, just a few sentences later, talking about those who are exalted, say:  “They will become gods.” That sentence alone indicates that present-day Mormonism still teaches this doctrine.

But, as I have stated, it is not mentioned nearly as much as it used to be.  Therefore, I was surprised to see a reference to it in the current (August 2011) issue of the Ensign, the monthly magazine published by the LDS Church.  Elder L. Tom Perry, one of Mormonism’s 12 apostles, has a lengthy quote from Spencer W. Kimball, a past prophet of the LDS Church.  In reference to Peter and John, Kimball wrote:  “Their righteous lives opened the door to godhood for them and creations of worlds with eternal increase.” (p. 51)  Not only does President Kimball talk about their becoming gods but also refers to the LDS doctrine that part of godhood is the creation of new worlds which they then will populate “with eternal increase” or, in other words, with their own spirit children.

I have a couple of reasons for highlighting this quote.  The most obvious reason is as proof that the idea of people becoming gods is still a teaching of Mormonism – a fact that should be both known by Christians and acknowledged by Mormons.  (By the way, even some Mormons have told me that it bothers them that many of their fellow Mormons don’t acknowledge this or do so reluctantly.)

But another reason I am citing this quote is to offer another example of how Mormonism focuses the attention on people and not on Christ.  According to Kimball, it was Peter and John’s own righteousness that opened the door to godhood for them.  According to the Bible, however, it’s all about Christ’s righteousness.  In fact it says our righteousnesses are nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

I, for one, am so comforted by the fact that my standing before God and my eternal destiny doesn’t depend on what I do or how good I am, but rests entirely on what Jesus has done for me and his perfect righteousness.  As Paul states, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9)  That also is my desire.  To Jesus, not to myself, be all the glory.

04
Dec
09

Who Is Jesus?

 

     Signs of another rapidly approaching Christmas are all around us.  Therefore it is only appropriate to address the question of who is it whose birth we celebrate each Christmas.   As is the case with so many other teachings, Mormonism answers this uniquely. 

     After quoting the angel’s announcement of Christ’s birth to Mary as it is recorded in Luke 1:35, Gospel Principles goes on to say, “Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father.  That is why He is the called the Only Begotten Son.” (p.53)   Although Christians have frequently portrayed this LDS teaching crassly and wrongly, it still must be acknowledged that Mormonism and Christianity view Jesus’ conception very differently.  I know of no Christian church that would agree with the above quotation.

     Another answer that Mormonism gives to this question is that Jesus was “the great Jehovah of the Old Testament”.  I have always found this puzzling for a couple of reasons.  In the King James Version, “Jehovah” is consistently translated with LORD (all capitals).  And quite often it is found in the combination LORD God.  In the original Hebrew this is literally Jehovah Elohim.  This is interesting because Mormonism identifies Elohim as the Father.  Therefore, in Mormonism, LORD God translates into Son, Father – quite an awkward construction.  But what is even more striking is that often the LORD God speaks in the singular, not in the plural.  For example, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18)  Why would the Bible so frequently use LORD God as a description of one person when it is, according to Mormonism, two persons?

     But it gets even more complicated.  For example, the LDS Bible rightfully refers Isaiah 50 to the Messiah.  One of the things it states in its chapter heading is “Messiah shall have the tongue of the learned.”  That refers to verse 6 which states:  “The LORD God has given me the tongue of the learned.”  Again, if LORD (Jehovah) is Christ then this has Christ giving Christ the tongue of the learned.

     Or how does Mormonism handle Isaiah 45:21?  “who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”  How does the Father fit into that verse? God here is again the Hebrew Elohim.  Therefore Jesus here is saying that he is Elohim.   And how could Jesus be God before coming to earth and receiving a body, since, according to Mormonism, having a physical body is essential for godhood?

     Who is Jesus? As can be seen, Mormonism answers that question quite differently from Christianity.  Although it is not usually meant in this way, it is true that Mormonism has a different Jesus than Christianity.

24
Oct
09

Becoming Gods

 

     I spent a good portion of October traveling to various speaking engagements.  After spending a lot of time in airports and on planes, it’s good to be home for awhile.

     Once again on this trip I met various people who questioned my assertion that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods.   Almost all questioned that because they had Mormon friends who told them that Mormonism doesn’t teach that.  Although I have talked about this in the past, it needs to be addressed again.

     As it so happened, I received the new edition of Gospel Principles shortly before I left, so I had opportunity to read it while I was traveling.  Gospel Principles is the basic manual that gives on overview of LDS teachings.  It is revised about every five or six years.

     Therefore when somebody questioned my statement about Mormonism teaching that people can become gods, all I had to do was point them to p. 277 and the chapter on exaltation.  There it simple says, “They will become gods (see D&C 132:20-23).”  

     Here are a couple other statements from Gospel Principles that support this.  “We learned that if we followed His plan, we would become like Him.  We would be resurrected; we would have all power in heaven and earth; we would become heavenly parents and have spirit children just as He does (see D&C 132:19-20).” (my emphasis)  “Having all power in heaven and earth” – that’s quite a statement.

     Or what about this one?  “Everyone who becomes like Heavenly Father eventually knows all things.”  (p. 128).  First omnipotence.  Now omniscience.  Both are characteristics of God.

     Yes, Mormonism does teach that people can become gods.  Why then do so many Mormons deny that?  Some probably are unaware of it.  Some members of the LDS Church have told me that they probably don’t admit it to me or other Christians because they know we are not asking the question sincerely.  That’s quite an act of judgment.  At least in regard to the Christians I recently talked with, that didn’t seem to be the case at all.  They were just trying to verify with their Mormon friends some things they had heard about Mormonism.

     I don’t know how many times Mormons have told me that if I want to learn about Mormonism, I shouldn’t listen to Christian observers of it, but talk directly to Mormons.  That would be good advice if most Mormons accurately articulated Mormonism’s beliefs.  In the case of this teaching, that has not been my experience – or the experience of many others.




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