Posts Tagged ‘gods

13
Jan
12

Eternal Life

This Sunday, in their Gospel Doctrines classes, Mormons around the world will be looking at 1 Nephi 8-11.  This section from the Book of Mormon describes the vision of the tree of life.  The Book of Mormon supplies identification for the various elements in the vision.  I am going to concentrate on the fruit of the tree which, according to it, symbolizes eternal life.

The first point that needs to be made is that Mormonism defines eternal life differently than Christianity does.  It equates it with exaltation.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4).  Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3).” (True to the Faith, p. 52)

D&C 131:1-4 referenced in that quote says that celestial marriage (temple marriage for time and eternity) is essential for exaltation.  The next section of D&C (132) is also pertinent because it describes exaltation as nothing less than becoming gods!   In verse 19 it states: “they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things.”  Then in verse 20 it says, “then shall they be gods” not once but twice.

In short, Mormonism defines eternal life as becoming a god.  To obtain it requires “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”.  One such ordinance is celestial marriage that can only be performed in Mormon temples.  Thus, according to Mormonism, many LDS members, not to mention non-members, will not have eternal life.

What does the Bible say?  John wrote:  “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)  Note that he says “ye may know that ye have eternal life”.   The tense is very important.  It is a present tense, not a future (will have).  They already had it!

They had it through believing.  John is echoing the words of Jesus that he himself recorded.  “That whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)  Eternal life then is the present possession of believers.  It’s the new spiritual life we now have with God through faith.  And most importantly, it is not something that we obtain through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  It is God’s gift to us.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)

“Through Jesus Christ our Lord” – the key is not my obedience and my work, but Jesus’ obedience and his work.  As my Substitute, he obeyed God perfectly.  As my Substitute, he performed many wonderful works.  He died – as my Substitute.  He did it all – 100% – for me.  Faith is nothing more, or less, than humbly acknowledging that and totally relying on that.  And through faith we have the tremendous joy of having true eternal life – right now!

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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.

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.

13
May
09

Exaltation and Eternal Life

     Once again in the recent General Conference there were a number of references to exaltation and eternal life.  For example, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said,   “If we are faithful to the covenants made there, we become inheritors not only of the celestial kingdom but of exaltation, the highest glory within the heavenly kingdom, and we obtain all the divine possibilities God can give (see D&C 132:20).”

     D&C 132:20 says:  “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 aren’t subject unto them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” 

     In a similar vein Elder Quentin L. Cook said:  “The desire of our hearts, of course, is not only to acquire salvation and immortality but also to attain eternal life with a loving Father in Heaven and our Savior in the celestial kingdom with our families.”  This is in the same vein because eternal life equals exaltation and thus equals becoming a god.  (For example, as the True to the Faith Manual explains eternal life it simply says, “eternal life, or exaltation.”)

     With eternal life and exaltation regularly referred to and striving for it is regularly encouraged, it is puzzling to me that a common reaction I have received from Mormons when I asked them are they striving to become a god is denial!  Some have been quite fervent in saying that if they remain obedient, they might become like god, but they don’t think that they will become a god.  In fact this reaction has been so common that I find it refreshing when a Mormon agrees with this foundational teaching of Mormonism!  When that happens, we can at least talk about that issue and not debate whether or not Mormonism teaches that.

     Do me a favor.  The next time you are with your LDS friend or family member, ask them if they are striving to be a god.  I would be curious if you get the same reaction I often get.

     And to my LDS friends – is asking that question in anyway offensive – if it is asked sincerely and politely?

01
Nov
08

ETERNAL FAMILIES

 

     I use to see them more often, but I still sometimes see the bumper stickers that say, “Families are Forever”.   Even though I don’t see as many bumper stickers spending all eternity with your family remains one of Mormonism’s more attractive teachings.

     But what I have found is that a lot of Mormons don’t see the connection between having an eternal family and becoming a god.  But that is the connection Mormonism makes.  “Eternal life, or exaltation, is to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, where we will live in God’s presence and continue as families (see D&C 131:1-4)” True to the Faith, p, 52.  Note how the quote includes a reference to D&C 131.  That’s the same section that links exaltation with godhood.  “they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, to their exaltation. . .Then shall they be gods.”  (v. 19-20)  It’s obvious that official Mormonism links having an eternal family with being a god.  “Exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity.”  (Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 130.

     Many Mormons, in the course of a discussion, have mentioned to me how they are looking forward to having an eternal family.  I then ask them if they are then also looking forward to becoming a god.  That is something almost every single one has quickly denied.  After I show them the link Mormonism makes between the two, they often don’t know what to say.

     But what many Christians don’t realize is that the subject of eternal families offers us a wonderful window through which we can witness Christ to our Mormon friends.  According to the Bible, one result of faith – of trusting that Jesus has done everything for us – is becoming a child of God – becoming a member of God’s eternal family.  That, my friends, is a lot more glorious, a lot more attractive, than having my own eternal family.  There is one family that is forever – God’s family.  And you don’t have to get married in the temple to become part of it.  It’s God’s gift to us. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 

15
Oct
08

Becoming gods

 

     I have just returned from a five-day trip to the Midwest where I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of people about witnessing to Mormons.  (By the way, that’s why I haven’t been on the blog for the last five days.)  More than once people expressed confusion whether or not Mormonism teaches that people can become gods. 

     That confusion is understandable.  Many Mormons have told their Christian friends that Mormonism doesn’t teach that.   I have had many LDS members say that very thing to me.  And maybe they honestly don’t know that is what Mormonism teaches.  I have also had the experience that when I pointed that teaching out in D&C 132 and other sources some who denied that Mormonism taught that, reluctantly admitted that it did.

     There is no question that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods.  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 to them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

     Presently Mormons are studying the manual about Joseph Smith in their series,  Teachings of the Presidents of the Church.  On p. 221-22 of this manual which was copyrighted in 2007 it quotes Joseph Smith:  “you have got to learn to be gods yourselves. . .To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.”

     Even though it is not as prominent as it once was, the old Mormon couplet coined by President Snow is still official LDS teaching.

              “As man now is, God once was

               As God now is, man may be.”

    That this is still good solid Mormonism is seen in the fact that it is quoted in the official manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles. 

    With these and numerous other proofs why do so many Mormons not know or deny that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods? 




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