Do Mormons believe people can become gods?

Happy 2012, friends!  May this be a healthy, happy, and prosperous year for you. It certainly looks to be a busy one, as Mitt Romney is steaming ahead if not to a win in Iowa then almost certainly to the GOP nomination.  And if he does, you can bet that questions about unfamiliar Mormon beliefs will claim a chunk of media attention.

A few weeks ago, this question arrived from an old friend now teaching at a liberal arts college in the Northwest.  She wrote:

A question came up in my class today:  do Mormons believe that people can become gods?  

A.L.

Yes, I was raised to understand that this is Mormon doctrine.  But the way it’s taught on any given Sunday sounds more like this:

Mormons believe that we are the children of Heavenly Parents, that our spirits lived with our Heavenly Parents before our mortal lives, and that we came to earth on the plan that we should gain experience through mortality and prepare to return to our Heavenly Parents.  Like traditional Christians, Mormons believe that salvation from sin through Jesus Christ is what makes this return possible, but the kind of eternal experience the soul gets to share in and enjoy depends on his or her preparation.  And it is a Mormon teaching that souls continue to grow, progress, and experience throughout the eternities, and that part of that expansive experience is to become like our Heavenly Parents.

There is no lounging in the Mormon concept of heaven.  No clouds, no wings.  Nope.  We continue do the most important things that souls are capable of—learning, loving, creating—but on a more sanctified, spiritually generative level.  We have families and care for them.  Just as our own Heavenly Parents did.

So, yes, as I understand it, it is a traditional Mormon teaching that human beings can become gods, but in the same spirit that children can grow up and become parents without displacing the priority and sovereignty of their own parents.

This doctrine is viewed as heresy by the rest of the Christian world. It’s also one of the boldest claims Mormon doctrine makes, so it has been the subject of a great deal of sensationalism.  Anti-Mormon ministries that were most active in the 1980s (but continue to this day) love to sensationalize this idea. The most egregious of the anti-Mormon movies, The Godmakers, focused in on this idea, helping in part to promote the cartoonish sensationalization that Mormons believe in getting our own planets, which I’ve never heard anyone discuss seriously.

Perhaps in response to this sensationalization, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley appeared to distance himself and the Church from this doctrine in interviews given in 1997 and 1998.  This and evidence that the concept of godhood is less frequently addressed in talks by LDS Church leaders than it was a few decades ago have led Mormonism’s most perceptive observers to wonder if the doctrine is being deemphasized.  Jana Riess recently wrote in the Christian Century:  “Does that mean that Mormons no longer believe that they can become gods? It is difficult to say. Many Mormons no longer think about the topic at all; it has become an insignificant aspect of contemporary theological expression. The idea may someday fade away, just as the church’s encouragement of plural marriage—once a cornerstone not just of Mormon practice but of its belief system—has faded away.”

But it also may be the case that this doctrine is just one that Mormons shy away from discussing openly.  I grew up hearing the phrase:  “As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become,” lines attributed to the nineteenth-century Mormon leader Lorenzo Snow.  And in preparing to write this blog entry, I read again the 1844 Joseph Smith sermon known as the “King Follett Discourse”:  “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” Smith continued:  “Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.”

Unorthodox Mormon though I may be, I am struck by the beauty of these lines and this idea.  It’s one of the most powerful and distinctive elements of traditional Mormon doctrine.  It’s one I’m glad to own.

What do you think, Mormon readers, is this doctrine being deemphasized?  I’d love to hear from you too, non-Mo folks.

Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.

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127 Comments

Filed under belief, theology

127 responses to “Do Mormons believe people can become gods?

  1. From “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young” -

    “Simply to take the path pointed out in the Gospel by those who have given us the plan of salvation, is to take the path that leads to life, to eternal increase; it is to pursue that course wherein we shall never, never lose what we obtain, but continue to collect, to gather together, to increase, to spread abroad, and extend to an endless duration. Those persons who strive to gain eternal life, gain that which will produce the increase their hearts will be satisfied with. Nothing less than the privilege of increasing eternally, in every sense of the word, can satisfy the immortal spirit (DBY, 93).”

    There’s another Church president proclaiming the doctrine, published in a recent manual, and findable via search on lds.org.

    I’d be surprised to find an active Mormon that doesn’t believe in this doctrine.

    What’s more controversial is what actually happens once you’re there.

  2. adrian

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (Isa 14:12-14).
    These five “I wills” of Satan. This was the beginning of sin in the universe. This was the beginning of the rebellion against God’s government and God’s kingdom, and they came with Satan’s willing against the will of God.
    Now Isaiah tells us exactly what the iniquity was. It was his declaring, “I will,” in opposition to God’s will. And anytime you declare your will in opposition to God’s will, that’s sin. That’s rebellion. Rebellion against God. Sin is the failure to do the will of God, to surrender, to submit to the will of God. “I will ascend into heaven. I will sit also. I will exact my throne above the stars of God.” Stars of God being the angels of God. “I’m going to exalt above them. I will sit also on the mount of the congregation on the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights. I will be like the Most High.” Interesting. The climactic “I will” of Satan: “I will be like God.”
    Shakespeare in the one play has someone addressing Cromwell, “Oh, Cromwell, flee ambition. For by this sin the angels fell.” I will be like God.

    • WGC

      I will be like God=I will make myself like God, in my own way, by my own devices and power and authority.
      God inviting a person to, as promised, be a joint-heir with Christ and share in all his power, glory and dominion is a different thing entirely. The first is a willful act of sin, the second an act of God’s grace.

      • I had that same thought, WGC. “I will” is an entirely different statement from the “I know” that I’ve read Mormons write about often.

      • Shelly

        Are you saying that by grace alone you will acheive exhaltation (and godhood)? Not “after all you can do” (Joseph Smith) or by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel plus attending the temple and joining into those covenants? I “will” is the LDS approach as defined by D&C and modern day prophets. I “know” would imply by faith alone but that is not in line with the LDS doctrine. I will/know imply different things so look at the pathway 1st then choose the word. That word would be “will”.

        It is still your choice. How many times did the people of Israel literally witness God’s miracles only to turn back to their “gods”? MANY and each time God made it clear to them who he is and gave them another opportunity to worship Him in humility.

        Isaiah 45:18–25
        18 For this is what the LORD says—
        he who created the heavens,
        he is God;
        he who fashioned and made the earth,
        he founded it;
        he did not create it to be empty,
        but formed it to be inhabited—
        he says:
        “I am the LORD,
        and there is no other.
        19 I have not spoken in secret,
        from somewhere in a land of darkness;
        I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
        ‘Seek me in vain.’
        I, the LORD, speak the truth;
        I declare what is right.

        20 “Gather together and come;
        assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
        Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,
        who pray to gods that cannot save.
        21 Declare what is to be, present it—
        let them take counsel together.
        Who foretold this long ago,
        who declared it from the distant past?
        Was it not I, the LORD?
        And there is no God apart from me,
        a righteous God and a Savior;
        there is none but me.

        22 “Turn to me and be saved,
        all you ends of the earth;
        for I am God, and there is no other.
        23 By myself I have sworn,
        my mouth has uttered in all integrity
        a word that will not be revoked:
        Before me every knee will bow;
        by me every tongue will swear.
        24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone
        are deliverance and strength.’ ”
        All who have raged against him
        will come to him and be put to shame.
        25 But all the descendants of Israel
        will find deliverance in the LORD
        and will make their boast in him.

    • Judah

      I’m not saying that faith and belief isn’t a good thing. I just don’t get all the fuss over all the different religions. If God and Jesus is real do you think they or he( which ever you believe lol) wants his people in conflict over beliefs? That’s why I study in the privacy in my home so i can get what I get from the scriptures and texts. I research ancient to modern religions, but mainly keep my nose buried in the KJV. I gotta say from Horus the sun god being born from a virgin mother in ancient Egypt, to Krishna also being born from a virgin, to Jesus all being baptized by a man with a name followed by “the baptizer” and all healing the lame and blind, history has had numerous accounts of the same story with different names with slight differences.It isn’t just those three people, the fact is there is fifty or more divine figures. My point is why can’t people just set their difference aside and live for God, but more importantly live for each other irregardless the religion, race, or belief.

      • Tim

        They can set their differences aside, but in the end there is only one objective truth. The lord has not thrown us here as dice at the mercy of chance but placed us here as pawns on a chessboard with the hope that he can reclaim us all but with the understanding that it is up to us to be worthy of reclamation.. There is a plan, there is a goal, there is a way. “the path is strait and the gate is narrow.” And the lord has sent directions and a map [the scriptures] guides [prophets, including those living] and a means of returning home [proper ordinances, i.e. baptism, confirmation, marriage, etc, performed under proper priesthood authority]. Unfortunately the last prerequisite cannot be achieved in the comfort and privacy of your home. Otherwise we are to believe that an omnipotent, divinely intelligent being sent us here to figure it all out for ourselves. That I cannot accept if God’s true purpose is to reclaim us all, which i firmly believe it is.

  3. adrian

    It seems to me that mormon doctine changes with the times. Like the whole thing with the blacks or even polygamy. Once it comes to light and there is controversy mormons come out and say “oh we don’t belive in that anymore”.

    • WGC

      Know your facts before you make blanket statements.
      Polygamy was controversial from the moment it was revealed. The government tried to stamp it out for a good 20 years before the Church eliminated it, and then it was because the Federal government was going to dismantle the Church if it didn’t stop. But the Book of Mormon says that polygamy is wicked unless the Lord ordains it, and that it is only ordained for a period of time.
      The blacks/priesthood issue was a hot issue for 8 or 10 years, but the heat had been gone (protests, threatened boycotts of BYU sports, etc.) for years before the Church changed that, and again, early statements by Brigham Young stated that it would be temporary, so someday it would end.
      The doctrine of exaltation has never had any limitations on it. It has always been described as an eternal principle, and is a foundation for all that we do in preparation for eternal life in the Temple.

      • Tim

        In the same way that murder is immoral unless the Lord demands it. There is plenty of evidence to show that “morality” is completely dependent on god’s will, not what you think should be wrong or right. Fortunately God is fairly consistent with only few exceptions.

    • Helen

      Mormonism is a young religion and it is evolving like every other religion did. Although the idea of potential god-hood needs to be developed and become a little more sophisticated, I suspect it will endure as part of the core of the religion. I like this doctrine, it has over tones of gnosticism. I like that it imbues all humans with the potential to realize their spark of divinity. The strong reaction to it is based in the paternalistic separation of humanity and divinity at the core of the world view of Christendom; which if properly understood, many would want to see changed.

      • How does a religion evolve? Religion no belief is suppose to firm and stable never changing. That is one reason Mormons confuse me they seem satisfied with having a changeable religion.

  4. Mark Steele

    Eternal progression is one doctrine that keeps me coming back. One of the alternatives in traditional Christianity, that of spending the eternities endlessly stuck on adoration mode, is less attractive.

    • I totally agree, Mark!

      An afterlife filled with happy, happy, zen-joy, where life is perfect and I no longer face any challenges or opportunities for growth whatsoever…?

      Sounds more like hell to me.
      Eternity is a l–o–n–g time to be filled with nothing but “joy” and rest.

      I think Adam and Eve were on to something. All they had to do was stay away from the forbidden fruit, and they could have lived in paradise forever. Apparently everyone comes to the point where enough is enough! {And yes, I know there was MUCH more behind Eve’s actions, but that is just one of the many lessons I take from it.}

      I have a niece who was raised as a “Non-Denominational Christian” and a few months ago, she said to me

      “Don’t Mormons believe they can become Gods? I just don’t think that’s right. My church says it’s blasphemy.”

      I then explained to her that we don’t believe that we will replace God, rather, we will be joint heirs with Christ in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom. I also explained that we believe that God is an exalted man, and that He had a father {the God of His world} before Him. She said that made much more sense, and I told her not to take my word for it. I told her: “God is your father. He will not withhold any truth from you. You should ask for yourself. Ask if He is an exalted man. Ask if He intends for you, His daughter, to inherit all that He has.”

      She did just that, and came to me the next day with tears in her eyes and said that when she asked in prayer, she was filled with a warm, amazing feeling unlike anything she had ever felt before. She also said that this doctrine made more sense than any other explanation she had heard before. A mortal father would want his children to inherit his kingdom/business/etc. So why would an immortal, exalted father be any different?

      How could a “loving Father” want to withhold His divine inheritance from His children? It is my firm belief that he simply WOULDN’T and DOESN’T. Sure, anti’s like to misconstrue it and call it blasphemy, but seriously, WHY are we here if not to gain exaltation? Does God just think it’s funny to send His children to earth to starve, fight in wars, and struggle all the days of their lives only to have them return home to live….exactly as they lived before with NO progression or true reward? Doesn’t sound like any father I know.

      So, I love this doctrine as well.
      Our spirits recognize truth. Simple as that.

      • Christi

        A happy, happy, zen joy, where life is perfect??? Where do you get this from? I’ve never heard any followers of Christ describe the afterlife like this?!

      • I’m sorry if that comment seemed presumptuous.

        I guess I don’t know, Christi, perhaps you could tell me.

        Where does a Christian who believes that “We are saved by grace through faith” believe we will go? Certainly not a heaven where works and progression would be happening…? That would be contradictory.

        Here is my line of reasoning:

        As I understand it, the concept of “works” contradicts the very core of traditional Christian faith…at least, that is what the non-denominational Christians I have had extensive conversations with have led me to believe.

        For a person to believe that they must perform “works” as a means of gaining exaltation…well, that is perceived as “trying to be their own savior,” and/or somehow doubting, or not fully accepting Christ’s infinite atonement…yes?

        So, if there should be no works on earth {you know, other than accepting Christ as Lord and Savior} then how does it stand to reason that there would be works in the life here-after? God’s doctrine is one eternal round. And if there are no required works on earth or in heaven, what exactly are we going to do for, well, eternity?

        And if, as the Christian faith clearly believes, it is evil, prideful, and blasphemous to believe that we can, in fact, be one with the Gods someday, then surely they don’t believe this Mormon doctrine is true.

        That’s a given.

        So, if the doctrine of eventual Godhood is NOT true, and works are unnecessary {and even sinful, in some respects} as a matter of principle, you’ll forgive me if I see a VERY simplistic and less than fulfilling view of heaven from the traditional Christian perspective. We are left with the 2 traditional options of “happy heaven for the righteous” or “miserable hell for the wicked”

        …right?

        Does the bible have an in-depth series of scripture that outlines the workings of heaven in explicit detail? Have I missed it?

        And I’m not saying that Christians are wrong, or that they are bad people for believing as they do. I’m simply saying that the lack of answers leaves me unfulfilled. If you remove Godhood and “works” from the big picture, the big picture gets pretty little.

        Doctrine that teaches that my Father in heaven loves me as a literal child {a.k.a I am the spirit daughter of a literal God} and a Father who wants me to have all that He has and be all that He is. MAKES SENSE. Period. It’s how I feel about my own children. I don’t want them to grow up to serve me and live under my thumb and be less than me. I want them to be more. I want them to be everything they can be. The full realization of their potential will bring glory and honor to me…because I am their parent. I {in part} created them and now my creation has gone one to realize the fullest expression of itself. What could be more beautiful?

        When I read this doctrine, my spirit is overwhelmed with a sense of peace, because it remembers, and says “Yes, this.”

        I want to be like my Father.
        Not kind of like Him, and not ALMOST like Him, but exactly like Him.

        Put simply:
        I want to inherit a portion of His company…not work as a cashier in one of His chain stores.

        And I believe this is what He wants as well. For all of His children.

      • Christi

        I think you are talking about faith vs works salvation? We believe we are made right with God by faith, and not by works. However, we also believe faith without works is dead. I believe we both pray like this: Our Father who art in heaven Hallowed be Thy name Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done On earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our depts as we forgive our deptors Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever. Amen

      • Christi

        Sorry my computer is acting up so I couldn’t finish. Our Father’s will is that his Kingdom would come . . . here and there. So I am about doing the will of my Father thru Christ Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit which was the gift given me when Christ saved me through faith. Does that make sense. Works matter to you and to me . . . for me the emphasis is on faith first. I’m not sure when I talk to my mormon relatives that we aren’t closer here than 30 years ago in that it seems that they believe they are empowered by the Spirit as well. Perhaps the doctrine of the Trinity is a bigger difference here . . . as well as other doctrines. Works and doing the will of the Father and bringing his Kingdom here and now are not. At least as I understand Scripture.

      • Christi

        Oh dear . . . debt and debtors . . . so sorry . . . ignore the grammar . . . my computer will not let me go back to correct errors or retype sentences so that they make more sense when I reread them. This site bounces around . . . must be my security or the age of my computer. Sorry! Blessings and Peace

      • Mormon believer

        @Christi,
        I do believe that the concept of works is biblical.
        The biblical teaching of faith, I assume, you already know. Of course, the Mormon doctrine on works is based in part on 2 Nephi 25 in the Book of Mormon, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
        So we also believe that it is by grace that we are saved, but with the qualifier that we must do something to earn that grace. I assume you believe in hell, which means that you believe that not all are extended God’s grace.
        In the book of James chapter 2, he tells us faith without works is dead. Also qualifying that works is necessary.
        In the book of Ether chapter 12 in the Book of Mormon, Moroni teaches that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen but that we will not receive a witness of our faith until we have a trial of our faith.
        Jesus Christ himself taught in Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
        Also, in 1 Corinthians 3,Paul to the Corinthians said “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
        So from those teachings in the New Testament I believe works is shown to be a biblical concept, one that is ignored by many Christian teachers, weather they be priest, pastor or what have you.

      • JennieBee

        Returning home also implies that we were once in heaven which I don’t believe! The Bible says that the natural came before the spiritual. I would encourage you to really study the heirs of God and joint heirs in Christ. I encourage you to do that because based on your post and usage of this scripture is off. No progression or true reward?? The promises from God aren’t enough of a reward for you? There are many forms of progression, not just a tier with the ultimate goal of being at the top.I believe that we will progress with knowledge, having wisdom I could never have here. I look forward to the day that I can forever worship my God!!

    • Lisa Murphy

      Yes!! Me too! Me too!! Eternal progression is one of the doctrines of the church that keeps me in the faith as well. It has always made complete sense to me. The concept of the life before, the life now and the life to come, being one great eternal round is one of the most beautiful, mysterious, yet logical doctrines EVER! I love it, and wholly subscribe to it.

      • Hugo

        @ Mormon Believer

        The New Testament teaches that Works are a result of your salvation not what produces it. If you are saved by God’s grace you will go and bear evident fruit. Works reveal you as a Son of God not make you one. People always to point to that verse to justify a works salvation but forget about the verse next to it: But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. He is saying you cannot show works unless you have been saved. Paul says that the flesh CANNOT submit to God’s will because it never could. Unless we are granted salvation we CANNOT show fruits. Also, The Bible clearly stated that is is by Grace that we are saved and it IS THE GIFT OF GOD, not of WORKS. Lest any man should boast. We were also warned that if anybody, even an angel of Heaven should preach a different Gospel we should not believe it and let Him be accursed. No other is above the Gospel in the New Testament. Right?

    • Hugo

      The Bible says that no eye has seen nor eye has heard nor has it even entered the Heart of Man!! what God has prepared for those that love Him. Seriously. Think about that. The man that was caught up to heaven was not even allowed to express the things that He heard. So how can you look at that and say we will be bored? We are talking about the infinite Creator (The one that is presented in the Bible) who made this vast and incredibly beautiful universe in 6 days. I know He could have made it in an instant but then people would get even more mad at Christians (lol). So I am sorry guys but if you think you have come up with the best idea of spending eternity, God already said, before Mormonism that it has not entered the heart of man nor eye has seen nor eye has heard. It will be better than becoming a god. It will be sharing an eternity with a God that needs nothing of us but loves us like He loves his Own Image in Jesus and He will not run out of ideas.

  5. Scott

    I don’t think it’s being deemphasized at all. There may be a difference in the approach of how it’s talked about because, like most doctrines, when not built up to properly it can sound a bit out of place. I loved your build up in this post, but I don’t think the deemphasizing is accurate. In the Gospel Principles manual (given and taught to investigators and less-active members) it mentions very plainly that one of the blessings of exaltation is “They will become gods.” http://lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-47-exaltation?lang=eng&query=%22they+will+become+gods%22

  6. As a non-LDS, I don’t find the doctrine shocking or disturbing or any of the reactions that seem to be provoked in the evangelical Christians who made The God Makers or other anti-Mormon works. But then again, I’m a skeptic and have no investment in any particular set of religious doctrines at all, so there’s no room for thoughts of heresy when doctrines collide.

    It does have a logic that I find appealing, as well as they way it humanizes the concept of God. Not too far from any of the Indian religions, is it?

    But as Ryan mentions, I think the things that make outsiders really go “Wha’?” are the snippets of specifics we hear about the afterlife — or the beforelife or whatever it’s referred to in the faith. The mention of Kolob in the Book of Abraham is so oddly specific that I fear it’s pretty easy for critics to highlight as a fringe concept.

    I’m well aware that the planets stuff may be viewed by most to be metaphorical. Still, it seems to me that it’s the perceived mixture of science and religion that freaks non-Mormons out. There’s a much clearer line between the evangelical literalist idea of creationism and the evidence-based scientific theory of evolution than I imagine is represented in LDS scripture. But please correct me if I’m wrong! It’s just my perspective as an outsider.

    Regardless, I’m glad you addressed this topic. I really enjoy reading your blog and learning what it means to you to be Morman.

  7. Jay

    I don’t find it being deemphasized in church meetings. While there is no lesson that specifically addresses this doctrine, it is alluded to in many lessons and definitely still believed by LDS members. It is one of our doctrines that makes us unique and particular. It is beyond me why Hinckley responded the way he did. Denying Mormons believe we can become Gods is like equivocating on whether we drink coffee, both are hallmarks of our faith and saying we don’t emphasize them anymore is just silly because all the evidence points to the contrary.

    • Brian Perkins

      Jay, I Agree! It seems like there are a lot of members who won’t stand up proudly and proclaim our unique Beliefs. The whole issue of whether Mormons are Christians or not seems to cause a lot of members to water down our beliefs in an effort to try to fit into the traditional Christian Mold. Why are members so afraid to proclaim what our Beloved prophet Joseph Smith taught so clearly in D&C 1:30 that “this Church is The only true and living church on the face of the whole earth. Didn’t Joseph declare to the world that, when the Lord appear to him in the grove, he was told that all the other church in the world were an abomination.
      So I don’t understand why President Hinckley tried to lead people to believe we know a lot about that and that it isn’t emphasized. It’s foundational to the plan of salvation that we can obtain Godhood. If you’re not willing to stand up for what we really believe… the foundation doctrines restored through Joseph Smith, The you are not truly a Latter Day Saint. You are conforming to traditional christianity. We shouln’t equivocate on any of our unique and peculiar Beliefs… whether that be our goal to reach Godhood, or Celestial (Plural) Marriage) D&C 131 and 132, Or any other doctrine of Exaltation. The Mormon church is the only church with the power, and authority, to administer in the Ordinances that lead exaltation (ie. Baptism, Temple Endowment, Sealings etc) We should be screaming this message to ends of the earth…. not trying to fit in with the traditional Christian thinking. All this watered down mormonism
      gives people the wrong impression.

      • Christi

        Brian . . . what a relief! As a nonmormon the dumbing down of these beliefs for the sake of blending in has been very confusing over the 30 years that I have been exposed to the mormon faith of some family members. I wondered if there were new revelations that were changing everything. It really has seemed as if their faith has been evolving more main stream. And, you are right they often bring up being identified as “Christians” the same description linking them to all the churches in the world they have been told are abominations. I wish Mitt Romney would be as direct as you have been. Thank you!

  8. William

    You might be interested to know that the Eastern Orthodox, who very much qualify as “traditional” Christians, have long taught “theosis” — the process of human beings sharing in the energies, though not the core, unknowable essence, of the Divine. What Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, is by nature, humans can become by grace. As the Church father Athanasius famously put it, “God became man so that man might become God.” Though theosis has not been articulated as fully in the West, in recent years, there has been great interest amongst theologians in the Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions on the topic and an especially fruitful dialog between Finnish Lutherans and Russian Orthodox. I don’t know of any direct link between Orthodox theosis and LDS teachings.

    • An interesting comparison, one I’d heard before but had slipped my mind. It goes nicely both with consideration of Christ as older brother, and with John’s teaching in the New Testament that through Christ we become joint heirs.

    • Theo

      Theosis is also core dogma for the Roman Catholics, though the layity are often not familiar with the teaching.

      CCC 460. The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”(2Pet 1:4): “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God (Irenaeus)…”The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods” (Athanasius).
      See also CCC 398; 654; 759 1988; 1996; 1999; 2009

      Here is a listing of ECF quotes on deification
      http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2010/11/deification-in-church-fathers.html

  9. Brian

    I brought this exact question up in church a few weeks ago during a lesson from the Gospel Principles manual chapter 47, Exaltation. Here are some quotes from the manual (for those unfamiliar, this lesson book is on the most basic of LDS beliefs).

    “Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

    1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:62).

    2. They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).

    3. They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase.

    4. They will receive a fulness of joy.

    5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have —all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20).

  10. Jay Bryner

    Joanna,

    This was a well written articulation of what I understand mormon doctrine to be. I would add one more source. The talk ‘The False Gods we Worship’ by Spencer Kimball. I encountered this talk on my mission when I read Hugh Nibley’s book ‘Approaching Zion’, but the text can be found here: http://www.nauvoo.com/library/kimball-false.html.

    This is the specific text of the talk that comes to mind when discussing the whole ‘get my own planet’ doctrine. Its not totally overt, but it assumes the doctrine. Here it is:

    “One man I know of was called to a position of service in the Church, but he felt that he couldn’t accept because his investments required more attention and more of his time than he could spare for the Lord’s work. He left the service of the Lord in search of Mammon, and he is a millionaire today.

    But I recently learned an interesting fact: If a man owns a million dollars worth of gold at today’s prices, he possesses approximately one 27-billionth of all the gold that is present in the earth’s thin crust alone. This is an amount so small in proportion as to be inconceivable to the mind of man. But there is more to this: The Lord who created and has power over all the earth created many other earths as well, even “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33); and when this man received the oath and covenant of the priesthood (D&C 84:33-44), he received a promise from the Lord of “all that my Father hath” (vs 38). To set aside all these great promises in favor of a chest of gold and a sense of carnal security is a mistake in perspective of colossal proportions. To think that he has settled for so little is a saddening and pitiful prospect indeed; the souls of men are far more precious than this.”

  11. cc

    From the Gospel Principles book, which every Latter-day Saint congregation just finished going through as part of a two-year Sunday school curriculum. The first lines of the last chapter, titled “Exaltation.”

    “When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our progression. We could become like Him, an exalted being.”

    From D&C 132:20, for those who obey the “new and everlasting covenant,” whatever that means:

    “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 unto them.”

    While we may not phrase it as “becoming Gods,” until this verse is removed from the D&C, and until we stop saying such things in our official manuals, this doctrine may be have been de-emphasized in place of a more clear focus on the Savior (or whatever you think we’re emphasizing now), but it is not gone.

  12. Bradley Hill

    Well-composed response to the question! It is highly consistent with my experience in the church. The Jana Riess quote is off point and distracting, in my view. Doctrines do not change in response to public opinion.

  13. G C Macnaughton

    The distancing himself from the eternal progression doctrine was alarming for me. Worse than alarming was that this was done on a “Larry King Live” show. As far as I am aware the 12 Aoostles and the First Presidency decide doctrine after fast and prayer not when one member of the quorum buddies up to Mammon. However, this could be true given GBH then when on to downplay that he was a prophet and preferred the term President of the Church. If this is the case then all Mormons need to know – the church is not the current leadership. Mormonism is the people, their collective faith/lack of faith, actual history and our strange and wonderful doctrine of eventual universal salvation – for all. Lots of things make me doubt my personal faith but eternal progression ain’t one of them. There are so many other “weird and less deserving” doctrine which could be trashed!

  14. Observer fka eric s

    New testament say we can be “joint heirs” with Christ. This has been taken by some to support the idea of divine heirship capability. In law, there is a concept call “joint tenancy.” Wjere two people are JTs to an asset, like real property, they have an equal, undivided interest in the asset. Think of Man’s potential relationship with diety the same.

  15. though this doctrine appears as heresy to many “traditional Christians” it is one that i believe will naturally begin to be emphasized more and more as it will be appealing to people of eastern cultures and even to secular humanists. i believe that the future of Mormon evangelism will find most fertile ground within the cultures of the east where a belief in eternally co-existent spirits, mind body connection, and the dialectical balance of apparent opposites are already taught and practiced. i think some of the aspects of mormon faith that are tied to traditionally christian and protestant roots (both in culture and theology) will continue to be challenged and that mormons will continue to gather and claim truths from eastern traditions. they are already within mormon scripture we just haven’t had the cultural framework to flesh them out.

  16. WRT Orthodox, an interesting comparison, one I’d heard before but had slipped my mind. It goes nicely both with consideration of Christ as older brother, and with John’s teaching in the New Testament that through Christ we become joint heirs.

  17. Kkellycpa

    I routinely miss a large portion of doctrine whenever a discussion about the deification of man. That is the entire temple ceremony, from initiatories to dealings and everything in between. Of course Mormons believe we can become Gods. All temple blessings, covenants and ritual point to that. Denying that is indeed anti-Mormon.

  18. I just like the idea of eternal progression and creation. That’s god enough for me (or goddess) and I don’t really care about the specifics and don’t really understand why others get so uptight about the specifics either (like if we’ll have a world and what Kolob is really like.) It will be what it will be and maybe focusing on what we will become in this life is a better use of our time and angst.

    But a thoughtful and well-written post!

  19. Really like the idea of being co-heirs with Jesus Christ and eventually becoming Gods. But I dont like the idea that God should have been a man like us. My mind goes spinning with Gods over Gods over Gods over Gods.
    But I will live the gospel and see what the afterlife brings.

    “the official position of the Catholicism is that of the infallible pope, yet few lay Catholics really seem to believe it, while conversely, the official position of Mormonism is that of a fallible prophet, yet few lay Mormons really seem to believe it.” Michael R. Ash

    • Larry Twitchell

      As I read it, the sermon taught by Joseph Smith states that Heavenly Father was like Jesus Christ – or that Heavenly Father went through a mortal experience like what Jesus Christ did. He was mortal (as we are mortal) but it was like Christ was mortal (divine)- but not what each of us are right now. Jesus Christ did nothing except what he saw His Father do – literally. “…that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.”

  20. The term exaltation is coming to replace this idea and when its defined in sources like Preach My Gospel and Gospel Principles, its true meaning is somewhat glossed over. I’ve had experiences where this was not taught to new members of the church until after their baptism and it was explained to me that its not a necessary bit of doctrine to understand prior to baptism. I find that troubling. To me, its one of the richest doctrines of the gospel, the key that makes everything work together and be for a meaningful, valuable purpose and glossing over it does a disservice to new members. Maybe it gets more people baptized and then they can wrestle with it later but what about the people who would find that to be the key to their conversion?

  21. Joseph

    How do Mormons comport that teaching with what we learn in Isaiah 43:10-11?
    “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no Savior.”
    And Genesis 3:5 the serpent tells Adam and Evil that they can be like gods:
    “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
    I’ve spoken to Mormons about spiritual evolution, but it has always been difficult for me to see how this is consistent with Scripture. I hope I do not come across as hostile, I am honestly curious to see the Mormon perspective.

    • utahcanadian

      Joseph, you don’t seem to have a reply yet. As a quick answer, the second scripture you quote uses the term “gods” as Mormons understand the concept of a “race of gods”, where our God is our father (thus the term Heavenly Father), and we are his offspring who have the potential to become like Him, able to know truth, choose right, live eternally, and control matter. The verse points out that in knowing good and evil, Adam and Eve have just taken a huge step in progression from their current state to becoming more like God.

      As for scripture stating there is “only one God”, we have only one Heavenly Father. Only one god is our leader and takes responsibility for us, and there is only Him for us to take guidance from and to have any concern about. Remember that in biblical times, in both old and new testaments, the people of the covenant were always surrounded by other peoples with pluralistic traditions, who worshiped anywhere from several to dozens of gods at a time, choosing their favorite one, or whichever suited the worshipper’s need at the time. The children of Israel were thus CONSTANTLY warned not to fall into this mindset, as it was so prevalent. Falling into this trap was a monumental threat to their faith and identity. So the “one God” concept is emphasized far more in scripture. There is only one God for us to obey, and He is the only One –in human history– who has ever existed, as opposed to the myriads of invented gods of the pagan traditions.

    • WGC

      Utahcanadian did a good job on God being over the pagan gods, but may I add more to the first point he/she raised about Isaiah’s verse. The verse is true only within this “sphere” or creation. In Mormon doctrine we live in Heavenly Father’s creation. We don’t know the extent of his creation—a planet, a solar system, a galaxy or this universe—but it is uniquely God’s creation. Everything within it is created by him. Within this sphere God is omnipotent, omniscient, and the only God. It can be inferred from the statement, “God was once as we are” that there were others of His spirit brothers and sisters who were also exalted and made gods, but they rule their own creations and have no power or authority in our Father’s creation. Thus, even though we posit the existence of many gods, there is only one who is OUR God. And he existed before he begot our spirits and before our creation was organized into existence. So, from our perspective, “before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” God the Father is our creator and Father, and always will be. No matter how long we exist, no matter what power we inherit, no matter what authority we receive, He will always be our Lord, God, and ruler.

      • Christi

        This is very informative. Thank you!

      • Hugo

        So do you think that this Heavenly Father would lie by saying that He does not know of another God? If He has these spirit brothers that He knows about would he lie about them and say: Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:8 Notice how he says any God. He is not saying any God in THIS creation. Does not add the escape clause: Is there any other God whom you must worship and rules over you in what you may know as this creation? No. Is there any other God period. Question mark. and again He says: I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, Isaiah 45:5. No need to try to force things that cannot be implied by a simple read of the actual text. Isn’t it cool to read what God has to say about Himself purely without regarding man first? I personally love it.

  22. Duane

    The only issue I have with it is that there is no evidence of Divine guidance when it comes to the evolution of our species (speaking of our physical bodies). With that in mind, I’m a little skeptical that we can eventually create beings that look like ourselves in the eternities. Evolution, which is at its heart the non random natural selection of random genetic variants that increase the likelihood of reproduction, will most likely not generate an identical human form on another world.

    • WGC

      And what would be evidence of divine guidance in human evolution?

      How would you discern it from random evolution?

      What if ALL evolution is divinely guided? How then would you know what non-guided evolution is?

  23. I just wanted to thank you for your time and energy you put into your blog.
    When you grow up mormon in Utah, it’s assumed everyone has the same large base of knowledge. For some reason I don’t seem to have it… at least not past the basics. (Maybe I just don’t put enough energy into researching topics.) You always give me a great starting point to learn more about myself and my faith.
    Thanks for expanding my mind, my faith and my knowledge.

  24. I remember Elder Boyd K. Packer giving a talk in General Conference in the mid-1980′s about this subject. I had not really thought about the subject much before he made the comment that it is thhe natural way of things, that children grow up to be like their parents: the animal kingdom is that way, we are that way with our parents (and our children), and it is natural that we would/could progress to be like our Heavenly parents.

    When I heard that, it struck me so strongly as correct doctrine, that I made a note in my scriptures and have referenced it for the last 25 years.

  25. I think it’s being deemphasized in General Conference, but not in serious Mormon theology (i.e. seminary, institute, and even sunday school).

    The question of whether King Follett should be canonized (it hasn’t, unless you view printing in the ensign as canonization) is also a very interesting discussion.

  26. Violet

    When asked about it in those same interviews in 1997 and 1998, I recall President Hinckley saying, “I don’t really know that much about it.”

    As you pointed out, there isn’t much serious discussion about “having our own planets”, because we simply don’t know much about it. I like this more humble approach – it feels good to me.

  27. chris

    It’s plain as day, but not recognize by those who don’t have “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” as the bible would put it. The concept of atonement, becoming one with God is there for all the Christian world, but they reject it for some reason because they think it is indeed “robbery to be equal with God”. We are in the same form of Jesus, Jesus said he came here and goes into the next life to prepare a place for us. He prays that we can be one with him as he is one with the Father. The act of atonement is by his sacrifice and through his grace make us worthy of becoming one with him.

    And yet, somehow some would think it perfectly normal that by being “one” Jesus really meant “an entirely different thing all together”. I

    From Psalms, “Ye are gods sons of the most high”
    From John, “You would receive the power to become the sons of God”

    Even you can find dozens of influences in the early-late Christian church that are still there.

    St. Irenaeus of Lyons stated that God “became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”
    St. Athanasius wrote that “God became man so that men might become gods.”
    St. Basil the Great stated that “becoming a god” is the highest goal of all.

    Now for some reason or another these teachings were lost to the greater part of Christendom, but they are taught in LDS churches, but the emphasis is really in the proper place. It’s touched on with a bit of depth maybe once a year or once every couple years. It’s certainly not front and center, even though you might say it’s the ultimate goal of our existence.

    The reason it’s not focused on is because it’s like driving on busy highway, with car pile-ups, pot holes, kids running across the road, etc. and you sitting back closing your eyes and imagining how great it will be if you make it to the destination.

    My point being, of course, that if anyone actually focuses heavily on this doctrine they are putting the destination before the journey. We don’t earn the right of exaltation, but it is given to us conditioned on our faithfulness in accepting Christ by following him and to the degree that we’ve progressed and grown by his grace into exaltation in not only this life but in the eons beyond before that crowning glory comes.

    I’m trying to cram as much doctrine into a sentence as I can. But ultimately, it’s rather simple as pointed out in principle, we are God’s children. Any perfect Father would want his Children to grow up to become like him. How could he want less of and for us?

    But again, it’s clearly not something we talk about because in order to be like God, you have to actually do the things, in principle, that he did — such as showing love and charity to others. Serving them patiently and long sufferingly.

    The great irony is so many assume Mormon’s want to be God’s Lording over planets but they’ve take on a strange notion of a God who said, that who ever is greatest should be servant to the least.

    Thus, the path to Godhood is not found in commanding and lording over others, but trying to follow Christ beneath all things as best as we are able by serving others and being willing to sacrifice our time, talents, and even all that we have for God — and as God says to serve God we must serve our fellow man. So if you’re not willing to give all you have to your neighbor, you’re not ready yet to partake of his fulness. And really, I don’t think any of us are… But that’s the idea, and I agree with the author, it’s a beautiful one.

    Who could possibly be upset that a bunch of Mormons have in the back of their mind that the greatest thing they can do in their life is serve others as Jesus did?

  28. Steve

    We don’t know what we believe anymore and we simply chalk it up to “continuing revelation”. Joanna, your blog posts are awesome, but their mere existence is evidence of the problem created by years of members hearing…and stating, “I know this church is… I know Joseph Smith is… I know I know I know I know I know”… a veritable cacophony of absolute knowledge professed from the behind a lectern, sometimes even produced by children, then often followed by an honest search for deeper understanding. The moment these covers get pulled back just a little, a whole stack of unexplained confusing doctrines (and history) jumps out at us and the best our leaders do is say “we don’t practice that anymore” or “it’s behind us”, or the recent press release that effectively states that anything any particular church leader has said at any point in time should not be considered as doctrine. Oops.

    This I do know: The Church desperately seeks acceptance into and by mainstream Christianity, and therefore distances itself from some of the very doctrines that have made it unique and that many members have embraced for years, such as this concept of becoming gods through eternal progression.

  29. f=ma

    I don’t believe Reiss was claiming that the mormon God doctrine will disappear like the some of the doctrines that governed priesthood or polygamy. There were interest groups meeting with church leaders with respect to the priesthood and the government threatened Utah’s statehood and the church’s existence with respect to polygamy. I don’t see anything like this happening with the mormon’s idea of God.

    I an adequate description of the mormon’s concept of God is worth a doctoral dissertation. Accepting the claims made in the past (e.g. the King Follett discourse) combined with some of the scriptures of today leave room for new debate on the ontology of God with respect to omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence, the problem of evil, etc. (Although, I do believe omnipresence is out of the question for God because he is said to be a man, but could be discussed with respect to the HG). E.g. in the BOM it talks about God ceasing to be God if he did not act in a certain way. Could this mean that God has a priesthood that can be taken from him if he does not act accordingly. Also, e.g. think about God’s purpose in Moses 1:39 “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” If God was once a man, could this be interpreted as a form of humanism…
    (I also believe that mormonism is the perfect test case for religious epistemology. e.g. testimony meetings, HG confirmation, and revelation vs. other forms of knowledge)

    Anyway, these are some ideas I have had for a while that I wish I could cash out on. Apparently, before correlation, the nature of God and many other topics were discussed and debated in church. Now, we have manuals and norms for our church discussion; and, it’s not a bad thing. Yet, I do feel that there needs to be more avenues for intellectual mormons to critically discuss doctrinal claims as mentioned above and what is entailed by them.

    It could be argued that interpretation of scripture is “what made the original church organized by Christ become corrupt.” I would respond to such an argument by stating that in no way would these interpretations be claimed as revelation, but simply interpretations by men. The hierarchy of the church could still be preserved; and, if leaders chose to accept such interpretations (perhaps the Holy Ghost reveals the truth to them), I would hope members of the church would appreciate such a move.

    Anyway, I hope this comment is somewhat coherent. Good topic AMG.

  30. Christi

    Steve . . . WOW! You have just put into words my experience as I have walked,lived, and listened to loved ones who happen to be Mormon over the past 30 years. It’s been very confusing for me . . . I’ve learned not to question . . . still I continue to listen . . . the changes have been sooo sweeping over the years . . . still I’ve never heard . . . we were wrong about that . . . or any reconciliation between the past and present . . . just “a moving on” if you will to some new revelation. If it is confusing to the ones I love . . . they never express it . . . and I wonder . . . about a faith that doesn’t form new questions . . . and I wonder . . . why they don’t wonder???

  31. chris

    Christi and Steve,
    The simple fact of the matter is the church is built and founded on revelation. Personal revelation between you and God, and a knowledge and a relationship with God confirmed through the power of the Holy Ghost. I don’t need a prophet, who speaks to a very wide audience to constantly sooth my concerns about why this isn’t focused on or why that isn’t said.

    The simple fact of the matter is, what the Apostles are teaching is what the church broadly needs to hear, but not always tailored to what individuals who have a sophisticated knowledge of the gospel, and hopefully one born of personal testimony through revelation.

    I’ve received very personal experiences and revelations on the matter of this topic and had a life-changing experiencing that was the culmination of years of turning my heart to God (by seeking to up lift and point others to him others as the Lord does).

    I can only say, the kind of relationship God wants to have from you is through your faithfulness is following the Lord, and I might say, it comes readily if you study, ponder, and ask, with a sincere intent, but only while proving yourself through two key principles: charity and virtue. The pure love of Christ, and striving to live a life where you avoid sin. There’s no doubt that if you can do this, you’ll come to a more sure knowledge of the nature of God and the eternity if you desire it. I know it because the scriptures and prophets have testified of it, but I also know it, more importantly, because I’ve experienced this more sure knowledge I speak of.

    The shorter version is this. If you want to know God, and understand more the purpose of this life as it relates to the possibility of eternity, you need to consider what his Apostles, etc. are saying now, and seek to put it into your life. But don’t assume that what they are saying is the culmination or the end of revelation, but it’s the starting point. Some of the “mysteries” of life are simply those things that that, although they can be taught and written down, as they have been in the past, they aren’t truly “owned” by us as individuals until we receive them from God. And it comes from putting his words to the test and following him.

  32. Peter

    As a Mo I think it is testimony to what we believe Jesus can do with us. As I reflect on my own folly and foibles, if Jesus can make me like Him or our Father in Heaven then that is truly a witness of how powerful His redeeming love is.

  33. Christi

    Chris . . . may I say I love the part where you share YOUR “with God life” . . . “experiences” . . . “journey” thus far? The rest of it left me wondering . . . are you assuming that I don’t know or experience life with God? I can’t tell . . . I can’t hear your voice.

  34. That we can become like our Heavenly Parents is the whole point of this mortal process. So its not going anywhere, but I think right now, education that we Mormons aren’t “weird” and should be viewed with suspicion is what is being focused on the national level. President Hinckley brought us into the media age and now President Monson is guiding us to help one another no matter our creeds. We are members of this world and we are a powerful force for good and THAT is I think the message being promoted lately. It does not change a fundamental doctrine in our potential for progression. It does not change the POINT of temples.

  35. Wayne

    In case the quotes from the early church aren’t enough to make this feel comfortable for you, consider these passages:

    Romans 8:16-17: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    John 16:15: All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

    In other words, Christ received all the Father has, and is glorified with him. Through his grace he offers us the opportunity to be joint-heirs with him, meaning we will share in all the Father has, and be glorified with Christ.

    I think a lot of early Christians understood this to mean we are being invited to become part of a fellowship of gods together with Christ. Certainly a lot of early Latter-day Saints felt this way, and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others gave eloquent voice to it.

  36. Kenn

    Hello Mormon Girl,
    I am not a Mormon and do not agree with much of LDS Doctrine however I can say that I find something very refresing here. You are actually OWNING what you have been taught. You may say it has not been emphasized, but you have not given me the standeard,.. “It’s not official,… or We have a living prophet and he doesn’t teach that” line. I appreciate that you are not trying to wiggle out of anything. I applaude you even if I disagree with you. Serious questions. Families are forever is a common hope for Mormons. How can Entire Families stay intact and yet “progress” in every way as Elohim must have? Also, if you don’t get your own planet,.. shouldn’t this one be a bit crowded by now,… logically speaking shouldn’t new God’s get new planets to rule? One final one if you will indulge me,.. if every God was once a man,.. where did the first man come from? Thanks for sticking by your guns,… not blindly mind you (I am assuming) but for not doing what I have seen so many other times.

    • WGC

      This needs to be stated clearly—the idea that we believe we will get our own planet is made up by anti-mormons. We believe we can be like Heavenly Father and that means we will have spiritual offspring and we will create—organize—a place for them. Just like Heavenly Father. And we are told that He has created “worlds without number.”

      As for families forever, our doctrine is that all exalted humans will be “sealed” as a family “chain”—a patri-lineal order. Adam will be at the head, sealed to his wife, his sons sealed to their wives, their sons sealed to their wives, etc. Adam is the head of the family, his sons are under him, their sons are the grandsons, then the great grandsons, and the great great grandsons, etc., on down to the last worthy husband and wife. The entire super family is bound, or sealed by covenants of the Holy Priesthood. Those not exalted are individuals and are not sealed to anyone—they may make friendships and alliances, come together to accomplish a task, etc, but none of these groupings have any force of authority. They are temporary bonds without any intrinsic power. A good analogy would be the inherent legal rights of a marriage as opposed to the rights of a friendship. Currently, rights can be created and legally agreed to among non-relate4d people, but I want to keep this simple. A family has inherent rights which non-family does not.

      Does that make any sense, Kenn?

    • WGC

      I just read my post. A better way of stating the family structure is that Adam and Eve are the head of the family, their sons/wives the second generation, their sons/wives the third generation, etc. The inherent authority of the sealed family is that husband and wife together hold the Patriarchal Priesthood, which can only be conferred through the marriage covenant, and is held and exercised jointly or communally. This is the priesthood power and authority that binds the couples to each other and the generations together. And because it is a communal priesthood, those not exalted—and thus not sealed—are individuals in power and authority. A much lesser power and authority.

      • G-Funk

        I’ve read this paragraph a couple of times: “This needs to be stated clearly—the idea that we believe we will get our own planet is made up by anti-mormons. We believe we can be like Heavenly Father and that means we will have spiritual offspring and we will create—organize—a place for them. Just like Heavenly Father. And we are told that He has created “worlds without number.”

        I understand you to say: You will get to be like Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father has created worlds without number (lots’a worlds). You will need to create a place for your spiritual offspring. Since you will will be like Heavenly Father, and Heavenly Father has created so many worlds then you will be creating a world for your spiritual offspring or maybe you will get your own world from one of the ones that are beyond number.

        Perhaps a “planet” and a “world” are not the same thing . . . . . . ?

      • WGC

        The phrase is from the anti-mormons and is never heard in the Church. “Magic underwear,” “Temple Mormon,” “Lucifer and Christ are brothers,” are also common phrases from anti-mormons that members of the church don’t use. They are the result of boiling down chapters of doctrine to one phrase and making that phrase glib and derogatory. We won’t get a planet when we are exalted—we will be given the power and authority to create. To create spirit children and to create places for them to dwell and work out THEIR salvation. I am of the opinion that a creation is a new universe (but that isn’t doctrine, as there has been no doctrine given on what a “creation” is) so I feel that an exalted being gets to have far more than a planet. But the main issue with this phrase is that it is inaccurate and derogatory, and it pains me to see some members here using it as well.

    • WGC

      “…if every God was once a man,.. where did the first man come from?”

      It has not been revealed to us. Possibly, because our minds are capable of only a very limited vision of Eternity and infinity, it cannot be revealed to us. Our minds are bound in a mortal, finite brain that imposes limits that I assume will not be present when we are once again spirits and later resurrected beings. Until that time it is a mystery which we can contemplate and try to get some understanding, but there is nothing official. But it doesn’t bother me because I have a spiritual confirmation that exaltation is a true doctrine of God, and that gives me the patience to wait for a full understanding.

      • I loved this.
        Well said…and very brief.
        Brevity is not my strong suit, but I’m working on it :)

        I have literally just about exploded my brain thinking about where the first God came from and the vast expansiveness of the universe. It’s all very fun {and exhausting} to think about. But I love what you said about spiritual confirmation. When my mind ponders the doctrines of exaltation, my spirit echoes resounding “Yes. Yes, this. I remember this.” every time.

  37. Mike

    I taught this lesson in Gospel Essentials today and definitely did not shy away from teaching new members and visitors that through God’s grace we can become like Him. “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” – Luke 1:39

    dha

  38. Dave

    Joanna,
    Yes it has been de-emphasized recently and especially with Mitt running for president. In fact the LDS church usually meets with the Utah legislature for lunch each year but it was cancelled this year. Another step for the church to take a back seat position in politics. It is an embarising doctrine for LDS members as was polygamy and blacks ineligibility for the priesthood. LDS is trying to be mainstream and these odd beliefs will keep popping up so I feel sorry for the rank and file LDS.

  39. Bear

    Far from being de-emphasized I feel that it has taken it’s rightful place in doctrinal discussion.

    Church leaders don’t address it because it doesn’t need addressing. It’s what we believe and the doctrine itself hasn’t changed. It’s very clearly stated in church manuals that we believe that we will be joint-heirs with Christ. The key I believe is in the nature of church leadership.

    The prophet and apostles give us guidance for our day that helps us live more Christlike lives so that we can return to our Heavenly Father. Whether or not that entails creating our own planet or not is irrelevant.

    The purpose of the gospel is to uplift us to be more full of charity, or the pure love of Christ, which if we fully partake of makes us into the type of person who can abide a celestial glory. This should be our ultimate goal. To be a man or woman of God who is full of love and grace. Our reward should not motivate us! The only reward I need anyway is my eternal family, irregardless of the details of how we’re spending eternity.

  40. Billy

    Great stuff Mormon Girl. I’m going to bed tonight, feeling good. Thanks for your blog and your voice.

  41. Chloë Johanna

    I’m a Russian Orthodox woman with a theological interest in the LDS church, mostly on an academic level. I just want you to know that the Early Church Fathers, particularly St. Basil, spoke of Theosis, or the idea that through the purification of Sin through our L-rd, Christ Jesus, we could achieve the same perfection that he had in life. I think that your theology is beautiful! Thanks for this great explanation.

  42. I’m a Russian Orthodox woman with a theological interest in the LDS church, mostly on an academic level. I just want you to know that the Early Church Fathers, particularly St. Basil, spoke of Theosis, or the idea that through the purification of Sin through our L-rd, Christ Jesus, we could achieve the same perfection that he had in life. I think that your theology is beautiful! Thanks for this great explanation.

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  44. Old Mormon Lady

    This blog has done more for my comfort level than I can express! I am perhaps an “unorthodox” Mormon but I love the gospel. This gospel has warts and so do I. I know I am “too liberal” for many of my suburban, eastside, Salt Lake City neighbors and, consequently, I try to keep my mouth shut when I know I will offend. (I need to add that I’m not very good at that keeping my mouth shut part.) I appreciate the level of intelligence, candor, open-mindedness, and downright civility exhibited in this blog (and in the comments). It is a good place for a 65-year-old Mormon woman to visit on a Monday morning!

  45. Macey

    I just stumbled onto your website and wondered what you thought of this website:
    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-101

    They state that mormans don’t believe they will become a god. It’s interesting how different the public sees and what is actually taught.

  46. Doug

    What I find very interesting, is how many people above have mentioned “what I find more appealing”, “what is logical”, “what makes more sense to me”, etc., as it relates to our eventual eternity and specifically Heaven. Some even have eluded that the “Christian heaven” sounds dull or boring due to lack of ongoing personal growth. It’s been a long time since I have read comments so shocking. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has even imagined what God’s eternal Kingdom will be like. It’s like an ant in an ant farm trying to imagine what it’s like to be the human being that gives them their food. It’s an ignorant and arrogant line of thinking. Believing one can be like God (in ANY way, shape or form) is what caused the fall of Satan, and the curse of sin and death that has plagued man since the garden of Eden. Do so at your own risk. I want no part of it. God is God, we are the creation. Worship the Creator, not the creation. Even if you think it might get old and boring.

    • Paul

      @ Doug . If you believe the bible then you believe the doctrine of becoming Gods.If you are a true Christian you believe in that doctrine for Jesus Christ himself taught it. In Salms you read that : Ye are gods and all of you are children of the most High, Ps. 82:6. When Christ was confronted by the pharasies He stated in John 10:34-35 : Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are a gods?
      If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken. Not only was he talking about himself but about the potential that all of us have to become like our Father in heaven for the scriptures in salms says all of you are children of the most High. My friend Doug if you wish to break the scripture brake it at your own peril. I myself belonged to a christian church prior to becoming LDS and since then I have talked to Christians that believe the doctrine not because Joseph Smith revealed it but because its biblical. I can give a thousand more scriptures that all teach about the potential that we have but that will suffice for now.

      • utahforchrist

        I would encourage you to read your passages quoted (all of Psalm 82, and all of John 10:22-42). Jesus specifically uses a blasting reference from Psalm 82 to remind those about to stone Him that the title is not out of line (even it it was used in a derogatory way in Psalm 82). As His works and John the Baptist’s testimony agree with His testimony, the Jews should believe in Him to receive eternal life. But as they were not His sheep, they would not believe, and therefore would receive the coming punishment for not believing in Him (John 3, 6 9, 10). The Jews did not say, “great Jesus we can all become Gods!” But rather wanted to kill Him for blasphemy (which was not blasphemy as He is our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13)).

        This was all in context of the Gospel of John which begins with the declared eternal (without origination) deity of Christ, a deity with distinctness from the Father. While there are many blessings for faith in Christ, none of them are to be identical to Him (1 John 3:1-3).

        No one can become a God. Biblically Heaven is not dull or boring (that is pertaining to those who say an eternity in Christ’s presence is such in the comments above). And I would love to see the thousands of references you claim to know, because they are not in the Bible.

      • Jeff

        Dear UtahForChrist:

        I would likewise encourage you to go back and read those passages you just mentioned one more time.

        In John 10:34, Jesus defends himself against a charge of blasphemy by stating: “Have I not said that ye are gods?” It it widely believed that Jesus is referring to Psalms 82:6 in saying “Ye are gods and children of the most high.”
        Christ’s defence against the charge of blasphemey includes the following passages from John Chapter 10:
        33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
        34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
        35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
        36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

        Again, I would encourage you to read the scripture again. Jesus is clearly pointing out that He called them “Gods” unto those whom the word of God was given and the scripture cannot be broken. In other words, you say I blasphemed because I said I was the son of God, but does it not say in your scriptures that you yourselves are Gods and children of the most high? If that is what the scripture says, and it cannot be broken, how can you know say that I have committed blasphemy because I said I was the Son of God?

        I should also point out to you that your evangelical perspectives are in the VAST minority among Christianity as a worldwide whole. Most Christians in the world, including Catholics, MOrmons, Coptics and Eastern Orthodox Crhistians believe in some form of literal Christian theosis and/or deification. There is ample support for this belief both in the Bible and, particularly, in the patristic writings of the early Christian fathers of the third through fourth centuries A.D.

        Here is some more bible verses:

        In (1 John 5:4—5;Revelation 2:7-11), the apostle, John the Beloved, speaks about how men can overcome the world, as Christ did, through Christ’s sacrifice.

        Paul the Apostle taught in numerous passages that men are sons of God (as in chapter 8 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans). Paul conceives of the resurrection as immortalization of both the body and the soul (1 Cor 15:42-49).

        2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.”

        There are several Bible verses which, if summarized state that, through Christ, men may become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” and “will inherit all things” just as Christ inherits all things. The faithful will sit “with him” on “his throne.” (Romans 8:17;Galatians 4:7;1 Corinthians 3:21-23;Revelation 21:7)

        Like the majority of the world’s Christian denominations (i.e., other than evangelicals and some protestants) that believe in a more literal meaning of deification, Mormons note that there are no limitations on these scriptural declarations; those who become as God shall inherit “all things.”

        Nonetheless, Mormon Christians believe man will always be subject to God.(1 John 3:2;1 Corinthians 15:49;2 Corinthians 3:18;John 17:21-23;Pilippians 3:21).

        Most importantly, here are the writings of the fathers of early Christianity (note that all of the below were cannonized as Saints by the early Church councils and the below teachings are considered fully established Christian “orthodoxy”):

        In the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (about 130—200), arguably the most important Christian theologian of his time, said that God “became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

        Irenaeus further stated as follows, “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.”

        Additionally, Ireneus added: “Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.” . . . For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.”

        At about the same time, St. Clement of Alexandria (about 150—215), wrote: “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.”

        Clement further stated that “[i]f one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God. . . . His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes a god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods, and gods are men.’”

        St. Clement of Alexandria also stated that “he who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh.”

        Still in the second century, Justin Martyr (about 100—165) insisted that in the beginning men “were made like God, free from suffering and death,” and that they are thus “deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.”

        Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (about 296—373), also stated his belief in literal deification by saying as follows:”The Word was made flesh in order that we might be made gods. . . . Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.”

        Athanasius also observed:”He became man that men might be made gods.”

        St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we “are called ‘temples of God’ and indeed ‘gods’, and so we are.”

        St. Gregory of Nazianzus implores us to “become gods for (God’s) sake, since (God) became man for our sake.”

        St. Basil the Great stated that “becoming a god” is the highest goal of all.

        Finally, St. Augustine of Hippo (354—430), arguably the greatest of the early Christian Fathers, said: “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [referring to John 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods.” “To make human beings gods,” Augustine said, “He was made man who was God” (sermon 192.1.1)

        Notable scholars and historians specializing in the studies of the early Christian Church and the beliefs of first, second and third century Christians have noted that of the above writers were not just important theologans in Christian orthodoxy, but all (in due time) became revered as saints as a result of the early Church councils.

        LDS historians and scholars, Robert L. Millet and Noel B. Reynolds, also point out that three (3) of the above early fathers of Christianity wrote within a time span of less than one hundred years from the period of the apostles.

        To provide some context to the above statements, one modern, non-LDS, Christian writer has said that “a fundamental principle of orthodoxy in the patristic period was recognizing the history of the universe as the history of divinization and salvation.”

        If you stll not convinced, here is the official Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (as it exists today) which contains the following in an article titled “Deification”:

        “Deification (Greek theosis) is for Orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is ‘made in the image and likeness of God.’. . . It is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become god by grace. This doctrine is based on many passages of both OT and NT (e.g. Ps. 82 (81).6; II Peter 1.4), and it is essentially the teaching both of St Paul, though he tends to use the language of filial adoption (cf. Rom. 8.9—17; Gal. 4.5—7), and the Fourth Gospel (cf. 17.21—23).”

        “The language of II Peter is taken up by St Irenaeus, in his famous phrase, ‘if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods’ (Adv. Haer V, Pref.), and becomes the standard in Greek theology. In the fourth century, St. Athanasius repeats Irenaeus almost word for word, and in the fifth century St Cyril of Alexandria says that we shall become sons ‘by participation’ (Greek methexis). Deification is the central idea in the spirituality of St. Maximus the Confessor, for whom the doctrine is the corollary of the Incarnation: ‘Deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages,’ . . . and St. Symeon the New Theologian at the end of the tenth century writes, ‘He who is God by nature converses with those whom he has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face.’ . . .”

        The modern Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, speaking on his personal belief in the subject of deification, stated as follows:

        “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”

        In a fuller statement on his beliefs in literal deification, Lewis explained in his book, “Mere Christianity” as follows:

        “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

        For a more recent example of commentary on the the doctrine of deification in modern Christianity, Christian author and non-LDS theologian M. Scott Peck, stated the follwing in his book, “The Road Less Traveled” as follows:

        “For no matter how much we may like to pussyfoot around it, all of us who postulate a loving God and really think about it eventually come to a single terrifying idea: God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood.”

        In conclusion, I know how it must be very difficult for an evangelical to understand, but the VAST majority of the world’s Christians, including Catholics, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, Coptics, and many (if not most) protestant denominations believe in a more literal form of theosis or deification, what Mormon Christians refer to as eternal progression. It has been argued that the MOrmon belief in deification most closely resembles the clear beliefs in literal divinization and theosis of the fathers of the early Christian Church, from whom your religion of so-called Christian Orthodoxy derives its very existence.

        That said, I would be very careful in trying to interpret what the bible says without historical references to your own CHristian Orthodoxy. No, the Bible is NOT self-interpreting and every single one of the early Church fathers (again, the same who created your Christian “orthodoxy” in the frist place) would beg to disagree with you on your above posted and subjective and unreferenced interpretation.

        You evangelicals might wish to be careful now. You don’t want to stray too far from the traditional dogmas of Christian orthodoxy or else run the risk of being labeled a “heretic.”

  47. All one has to do is read the current Mormon Gospel Principles Manual, given to new members, and read the Exaltation Chapter – Mormons can become Gods.

    It may be an embarrassing doctrine, that Mormons want to deemphasize during Romney’s run for the White Horse; but it doesn’t change it from being doctrine.

    Christians don’t become Gods – therefore, Mormons can not be Christians.

    • Paul

      @ Timothy Unrine . If you believe the bible then you believe the doctrine of becoming Gods.If you are a true Christian you believe in that doctrine for Jesus Christ himself taught it. In Salms you read that : Ye are gods and all of you are children of the most High, Ps. 82:6. When Christ was confronted by the pharasies He stated in John 10:34-35 : Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are a gods?
      If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken. Not only was he talking about himself but about the potential that all of us have to become like our Father in heaven for the scriptures in salms says all of you are children of the most High. My friend Timothy if you wish to break the scripture brake it at your own peril. I myself belonged to a christian church prior to becoming LDS and since then I have talked to Christians that believe the doctrine not because Joseph Smith revealed it but because its biblical. I can give a thousand more scriptures that all teach about the potential that we have but that will suffice for now.

    • Theo

      Timothy, Theosis/Deification has been Christian doctrine from the beginning. The fact that modern ‘Christians’ are not taught this doctrine is more a sign of apostasy than the doctrine doesn’t exist.

      • SG

        I realize I am really late to this discussion but I am fascinated by this idea!! Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians are taught Theosis/Deification… however this doctrine is very different (at least from my understanding) from the Mormon idea of exaltation. Theosis/Deification says we partake of the Divine Nature … meaning that we SHARE in God’s glory and divinity… we do not become gods in and of ourselves. When we go to heaven, we will be completely united with God in a mysterious way and get to share in his NATURE not necessarily his substance. Sharing in God’s nature as taught in historic Christian doctrine is done only through God’s grace not of our own merits. My understanding of the Mormon idea of exaltation is that people progress through eternity and have their own spirit children who then become mortal. Their children in their mortality would then worship them just as we worship God. This to me sounds like exaltation means we become what God is in substance rather just in sharing his nature.

      • Theo

        I think the core teaching is really the same: Christ became man so that man might become god.

        I suggest we should exclude evangelical views on grace vs works since Theosis is really a Catholic/Orthodox doctrine. Per doctrine, I understand the path to exaltation or deification is really the same for both Catholic and LDS: We must be christlike and obey the commandments. I find the differences in commandments to be inconsequential, when compared to the broad overlap in being a servant of Christ.

        Where we really differ is on speculation about the essence of God and what happens in the afterlife, not the path to get there. Catholic speculation is that the our essence is different than Christ

    • St. Clement of Alexandria

      @Timothy Unrine

      You said: “Christians don’t become Gods — therefore, Mormons can not be Christians.”

      With all due repsect and love for you, brother, I really don’t think you know much of anything about the well-documented teachings of so-called “orthodox” Christianity.

      No knowledgable and well-versed Christain could fault the Mormons for thier belief in a more litteral divinization or theosis. The beliefs of Mormon Christians are entirely congruent with the well documented beliefs of the fathers of Christian orthodoxy. Indeed, the unfounded claim that Christian don’t become gods stands in DIRECT contrast to the well-documented beliefs of ALL of the fathers of the early Christian Church, (i.e., the same Christian fathers whose teaches laid the very foundations of orthodox Christianity).

      Indeed, it would be patently disingenous for any Christian to decry Mormonism for its teachings on the subject of “eternal progression” or exaltation. All Christian denominations (other than modern American evangelicals) vary in scope and level of belief in the doctrine of deification.

      As noted, most supportive of the beliefs of Mormons (and entirely in contrast with your claims) are the writings of the early Christian Church Fathers during the patristic period; I will restate the following:

      In the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (about 130—200), arguably the most important Christian theologian of his time, said that God “became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

      Irenaeus further stated as follows, “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.” Additionally, Ireneus added: “Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.” . . . For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.”

      At about the same time, St. Clement of Alexandria (about 150—215), wrote: “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.” St. Clement further stated that “if one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God. . . . His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes a god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods, and gods are men.’”

      St. Clement of Alexandria further stated that “he who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh.”

      Still in the second century, Justin Martyr (about 100—165) insisted that in the beginning men “were made like God, free from suffering and death,” and that they are thus “deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.”(NOTE that this ancient teaching of one of the most celebrated teachers in Christian orthodoxy not only refers to a litteral belief in deification or theosis, but also coincides with the Mormon understanding of a premortal existence.)

      Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (about 296—373), also stated his belief in deification by saying as follows:”The Word was made flesh in order that we might be made gods. . . . Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.”

      Athanasius also observed:”He became man that men might be made gods.”

      St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we “are called ‘temples of God’ and indeed ‘gods’, and so we are.”

      St. Gregory of Nazianzus implores us to “become gods for (God’s) sake, since (God) became man for our sake.”

      St. Basil the Great stated that “becoming a god” is the highest goal of all.

      Finally, St. Augustine of Hippo (354—430), arguably the greatest of the early Christian Fathers, said: “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [John 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods.” “To make human beings gods,” Augustine said, “He was made man who was God” (sermon 192.1.1)

      All of the above writers were not just important theologans in Christian orthodoxy, but all (in due time) became revered as saints as a result of the early Church councils. As noted, three (3) of the above Christian Fathers wrote within a time span of less than one hundred years from the period of the apostles.

      In conlcusion, your statement is in DIRECT and CLEAR contrast to the teachings of the very founders of the orthodox Christian church. Christians do indeed become “gods” as so eloquently stated by the above celebrated theologians. Given the above commentary of the founders of orthodox Christianity, it would be impossible for any learned Christian to find fault with the Mormon Christian teaching of “exaltation.” In truth, the very claim that “Christians don’t become gods” is, in truth, a very un-Christian statement and flies in the face of even modern orthodox doctrine (don’t believe me, then see the entry in the Westminster Dictionary of Modern Christian Theology entitled “deification”).

      As a converted Mormon Christian, I regret your commentary that because Mormons believe in the same doctrines as all first through fourth century Chrisitians on this subject, they are somehow non-Christian. In response, I think more of the famed words of C.S. Lewis are in order:

      “It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. . . .
      . . . When a man who accepts the Christian doctrine lives unworthily of it, it is much clearer to say he is a bad Christian than to say he is not a Christian.”

      Peace.

  48. Katze

    If you want to learn about the Mormon religion read The Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. It is the basis of our religion. If you pray, you will find the answer. The answer may not be immediate, or come in the way that you expect it to, but it will be answered.

    The reason that we don’t question what our prophet or leaders tell us to do is because we don’t need to. We know that whatever the prophet tells us to do comes from God. We know that God cannot lie. We know that we came to earth to learn and grow. We do not drink coffee, most types of tea, smoke, or do many other things because we have been commanded not to by the prophet. We believe that The Book of Mormon is the word of God. We also believe the Bible to be the word of God as long as it is translated correctly. We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. My life revolves around my beliefs. I don’t know what I would do without it. I love my church. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Mormon.

    Our beliefs are in the 13 Articles of Faith. Look them up to find out more about what we believe.

  49. Steve

    NO. According to the mormon news room from LDS.org we do not become gods. But it is not the members fault for being “mistaken” as we see in the excerpt from Gospel Principle Lesson stating that we will become gods. Mormon leaders are trying to mainstream mormonism and many religions consider it blasphemous to assume that we will have all the same powers as the Almighty. Check links out below.
    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-101
    Do Latter-day Saints believe they can become “gods”?

    Latter-day Saints believe that God wants us to become like Him. But this teaching is often misrepresented by those who caricature the faith. The Latter-day Saint belief is no different than the biblical teaching, which states, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). Through following Christ’s teachings, Latter-day Saints believe all people can become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
    Do Latter-day Saints believe that they will “get their own planet”?

    No. This idea is not taught in Latter-day Saint scripture, nor is it a doctrine of the Church. This misunderstanding stems from speculative comments unreflective of scriptural doctrine. Mormons believe that we are all sons and daughters of God and that all of us have the potential to grow during and after this life to become like our Heavenly Father (see Romans 8:16-17). The Church does not and has never purported to fully understand the specifics of Christ’s statement that “in my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2).

    From Gospel Principles
    http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,11-1-13-59,00.html
    Blessings of Exaltation

    Our Heavenly Father is perfect. However, he is not jealous of his wisdom and perfection. He glories in the fact that it is possible for his children to become like him. He has said, “This is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

    Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

    They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76).
    They will become gods.
    They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.
    They will receive a fulness of joy.
    They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have–all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to his commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).

    • Theo

      Steve, your “NO” answer is wrong. Even the article you cited states – Latter-day Saints believe all people can become “partakers of the divine nature” It is the misrepresented caricature of the belief that is denied.

      • Steve

        Theo, it still does not change the fact that in Gospel Principles it clearly states in plain english “They will become gods”- as discussed on this very post that most mormons do believe. THEN for their mormonism 101 press they deny that we will become gods and lean more heavily on the biblical teachings completely leaving out any of the references we have been taught our wholes lives through modern day prophets, D&C and the Book of Mormon.

  50. Christi Benson

    I Will because I KNOW!!!

  51. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.”

    To think we now know what we will be, and that we will be gods ourselves, is to make this verse a lie.

  52. Irene

    Irene
    Hello, I am a christian from a protestant denomination. I have read the whole thread. I was particularly interested in this conclusion, “I know how it must be very difficult for an evangelical to understand, but the VAST majority of the world’s Christians, including Catholics, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, Coptics, and many (if not most) protestant denominations believe in a more literal form of theosis or deification” . First off what study supports this saying? I have spoken with many Catholics about their theology, most of them do not even know that Noah brought more than two animals of each kind on the ark. It has been my experience that they do not read the Bible so they don’t even know what they believe. However, I have not asked them about the doctrine of theosis, so I would not know their thoughts. Of the four different churches I have attended, I have never heard of this new doctrine. This is not to say that most Christians do not believe this, it is just to say that if you are going to say something like that you must point to some study, you just can’t say most Christians… Then we must validate this. For example, I once heard a study that said 50% of America is Christian. What is a Christian, some of my friends say they are Christian and I know they are not, yet they mark Christian because they don’t want to mark atheist. So the problem isn’t the doctrine. we can fight all day long about doctrine using scriptures and saying I feel this is the way. What I question is the inerrancy of the Book of Mormon. I believe it is a false doctrine, therefore it doesn’t matter if the Book of Mormon teaches this doctrine, it is a lovely idea, but nevertheless, it is a false book so it doesn’t matter how fuzzy you get when you think about it, it is just not the truth. I am in the middle of doing Moromon reasearch so I can not say much more than that. Thank you.

  53. T Little

    I just want to say one thing. God has never been like us, we are full of sin and wicked, all of us. None are rightoues not one. Jesus was the only perfect man, that is why He came and died for us. To think we are like God is or was is wrong. Pray and ask God to deliver you from this teaching. He is Holy, and Him only. Amen.

    • Theo

      TLittle, you are approaching this with the wrong attitude.
      Ephesians 4:11-24 We were created to become like Christ.
      While it is impossible for a sinful man to be exactly like Christ, we are commanded to try. Achieving it is only possible through the atonment, not of our own effort.

      I think the Catholics have described the perceived arrogance of this doctrine, and how it must be achieved (choosing God over oursleves)
      CCC 398 In that sin man preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good. Constituted in a state of holiness, man was destined to be fully “divinized” by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to “be like God”, but “without God, before God, and not in accordance with God”.279

      • Bible Believer

        This quote from a Mormon site with give you some idea of what and how they take and add to the Holy Bible:
        ” If God is literally the Father of our spirits, making us offspring of Him, then we could be called gods ourselves. In fact, the Bible makes this very declaration. “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”5 Jesus Christ Himself said we were gods: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? ” If you do research on the Mormon belief and read the Book of Mormons, it is very scary!!

      • It is not us, but the Holy Spirit, Who allows us to walk in the Lord. We will never be perfect until we go to be with the Lord. And on that day, and for the rest of eternity, God is still God, and we are still not.

      • St. Clement of Alexandria

        @Bible Believer
        @sm723

        “God is still God, and we still are not.”

        This is EXACTLY what Mormonism teaches!!! We will ALWAYS be subordinate to God…ALWAYS!! The process of perfection is long and arduous and will continue long after this life. But in the words of the famed Christian author, C.S. Lewis, that is what we are in for, nothing less.

        Again, and with all due respect, I think you are trying to find a differentiation and a controversy that simply does not exist. Men and women can become like God through the atonement of Christ. Those who recieve that glorified state will be clothed in immortality, will never die, will have a fullness of joy and happinees, will sit with God on his throne, will be an “heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.” They will inherit the with the firstborn (i.e., Christ) and, with Christ, will recieve “all that the Father hath.”

        Indeed, they will be “called gods,” the “sons of god” and the “children of the Most High.” Though they will recieve of His glory, the point being missed by the orthdox Christians in this discussion is that they will ALWAYS be subordinate to and subject to God. God’s purpose is to unite his Children with him in one eternal round, an eternal family that never ends so to speak; we will NEVER be independent from God, but will partake with Him a fullness of His joy! We will live an eternal life as He himself lives.

        How is that Mormon teaching of exaltation that I just described any different than what was taught and believed by every Christian father of the patristic period (i.e., the very teachings which gave birth and laid the foundation for so-called “orthodox” Christianity)???? With all due respect and love for you, brother, I think you are looking for a potential differentiating talking point between Mormon Chrisitanity and historical orthodox Christianity on this subject that simply does not exist.

        The question would rather be this: as over the centuries this teaching became less and less prominent among the many various and competing denominations of so-called orthodoxy, how do you propose that an unedcuated 21-year old farmboy from rurual upstate New York so aptly “ressurected” this well-docmented and divine teaching almost word-for-word as taught by the Christian leaders of the first and second centuries??

  54. St. Clement of Alexandria

    @Bible Believer
    @T Little
    @Irene
    @Theo

    I really don’t think you can fault the Mormons for thier belief in a more litteral divinization or theosis. The beliefs of Mormon Christians is entirely congruent with the well documented beliefs of the fathers of Christian orthodoxy.

    From a biblical perspective, Paul the Apostle taught in numerous passages that humans are sons of God (as in chapter 8 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans). Paul conceives of the resurrection as immortalization (1 Cor 15:42-49). Paul also preached a future Christian rule over angels (1 Cor 6:2-3), and that, in Christ, Christians possess all things (1 Cor 3:21-23). 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 says that “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” The fact that Christians attain “the same image” indicates a close union and even identification with Christ, the image of God (2 Cor 4:4).[2]

    Furthermore (biblically speaking) John 10:34, Jesus defends himself against a charge of blasphemy by stating: “Have I not said that ye are gods?” It it widely believed that Jesus is referring to Psalms 82:6 in saying “Ye are gods and children of the most high.”

    Christ’s defence against the charge of blasphemey includes the following passages from John Chapter 10:

    33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. 34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

    Indeed, it would be patently disingenous for any Christian to decry Mormonism for its belief in “eternal progression. All Christian denominations vary in scope and level of belief in the doctrine of deification, but all Christian faiths espouse the belief that human beings will never be independent of God, and will never cease to be subordinate to God, there are ample biblical passages to support the belief that men can become “Gods” by overcoming the world through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.(1 John 5:4—5;Revelation 2:7-11). There are also several biblical passages which state that, through Christ, men may become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ and will inherit all things just as Christ inherits all things.(Romans 8:17;Galatians 4:7;1 Corinthians 3:21-23;Revelation 21:7).

    Christian denominations that believe in a more literal meaning of deification (most notably Latter-day Saints) believe that they are received into the “church of the firstborn,” meaning they inherit as though they were the firstborn.(Hebrews 12:23)

    Christian denominations that believe in a more literal meaning of deification note that there are no limitations on these scriptural declarations; those who become as God shall inherit “all things.” Most notably, Latter-day Saints (i.e, Mormon Christians) believe that man can be one with Christ and with the Father and receive glory—though Mormon Christians believe man will always be subject to God.(1 John 3:2;1 Corinthians 15:49;2 Corinthians 3:18;John 17:21-23;Philippians 3:21).

    Most supportive of the beliefs of Mormons are the writings of the early Christian Church Fathers, including the following:

    In the second century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (about 130—200), arguably the most important Christian theologian of his time, said that God “became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”

    Irenaeus further stated as follows, “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.” Additionally, Ireneus added: “Do we cast blame on him [God] because we were not made gods from the beginning, but were at first created merely as men, and then later as gods? Although God has adopted this course out of his pure benevolence, that no one may charge him with discrimination or stinginess, he declares, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High.” . . . For it was necessary at first that nature be exhibited, then after that what was mortal would be conquered and swallowed up in immortality.”

    At about the same time, St. Clement of Alexandria (about 150—215), wrote: “Yea, I say, the Word of God became a man so that you might learn from a man how to become a god.” St. Clement further stated that “if one knows himself, he will know God, and knowing God will become like God. . . . His is beauty, true beauty, for it is God, and that man becomes a god, since God wills it. So Heraclitus was right when he said, ‘Men are gods, and gods are men.’”

    St. Clement of Alexandria further stated that “he who obeys the Lord and follows the prophecy given through him . . . becomes a god while still moving about in the flesh.”

    Still in the second century, Justin Martyr (about 100—165) insisted that in the beginning men “were made like God, free from suffering and death,” and that they are thus “deemed worthy of becoming gods and of having power to become sons of the highest.”(NOTE that this ancient teaching of one of the most celebrated teachers in Christian orthodoxy not only refers to a litteral belief in deification or theosis, but also coincides with the Mormon understanding of a premortal existence.)

    Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (about 296—373), also stated his belief in deification by saying as follows:”The Word was made flesh in order that we might be made gods. . . . Just as the Lord, putting on the body, became a man, so also we men are both deified through his flesh, and henceforth inherit everlasting life.”

    Athanasius also observed:”He became man that men might be made gods.”

    St. Cyril of Alexandria says that we “are called ‘temples of God’ and indeed ‘gods’, and so we are.”

    St. Gregory of Nazianzus implores us to “become gods for (God’s) sake, since (God) became man for our sake.”

    St. Basil the Great stated that “becoming a god” is the highest goal of all.

    Finally, St. Augustine of Hippo (354—430), arguably the greatest of the early Christian Fathers, said: “But he himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God’ [John 1:12]. If then we have been made sons of god, we have also been made gods.” “To make human beings gods,” Augustine said, “He was made man who was God” (sermon 192.1.1)

    All of the above writers were not just important theologans in Christian orthodoxy, but all (in due time) became revered as saints as a result of the early Church councils. As noted, three (3) of the above Christian Fathers wrote within a time span of less than one hundred years from the period of the apostles.

    To provide some context to the above statements, one modern writer has said that a fundamental principle of orthodoxy in the patristic period was recognizing “the history of the universe as the history of divinization and salvation.” This statement largely correlates with those of the early Christian fathers who concluded that “because the Spirit is truly God, we are truly divinized by the presence of the Spirit.”

    My point being is this: no Christian who has studied either the Bible and/or the writings of the early Church fathers should have a problem with the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression and in recognizing its inherent correlations with the beliefs of first and second century Christians.

    Peace.

  55. St. Clement of Alexandria

    @Bible Believer
    @T Little
    @Irene
    @Theo

    I should also point out that a belief in literal divinization, deification, or theosis is NOT unique to Mormonism even in Modern times. The modern Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, speaking on his personal belief in the subject of deification, stated as follows:

    “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”

    In a fuller statement on his beliefs in literal deification, C.S. Lewis explained in his book, “Mere Christianity” as follows:

    “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

    For what it is worth, take also this statement from the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (lastest version), which contains the following in an article titled “Deification”:

    “Deification (Greek theosis) is for Orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is ‘made in the image and likeness of God.’. . . It is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become god by grace. This doctrine is based on many passages of both OT and NT (e.g. Ps. 82 (81).6; II Peter 1.4), and it is essentially the teaching both of St Paul, though he tends to use the language of filial adoption (cf. Rom. 8.9—17; Gal. 4.5—7), and the Fourth Gospel (cf. 17.21—23).”

    The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology (lastest version) continues as follows:

    “The language of II Peter is taken up by St Irenaeus, in his famous phrase, ‘if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods’ (Adv. Haer V, Pref.), and becomes the standard in Greek theology. In the fourth century, St. Athanasius repeats Irenaeus almost word for word, and in the fifth century St Cyril of Alexandria says that we shall become sons ‘by participation’ (Greek methexis). Deification is the central idea in the spirituality of St. Maximus the Confessor, for whom the doctrine is the corollary of the Incarnation: ‘Deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages,’ . . . and St. Symeon the New Theologian at the end of the tenth century writes, ‘He who is God by nature converses with those whom he has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face.’ . . .”

    In truth, the only heresy and unfortunate circumstances is that the vast majority of the evangelicals and protestants today understand very little of the history of the founding of the orthodox Christian faith and the well documented beliefs and accepted doctrines of first and second century Christianity. If they did, they would have very little dispute with the established doctrines of the LDS faith.

    Peace.,

    • And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but CS Lewis is not in the Bible. But look at the language he is using: he is, of course, speaking of when we become Christ-like, fully, when we go to be with Him. You have to read the Bible to see what it will be like when we go to be with Him…the whole purpose of our existence is to worship God, to praise God. Not to BE gods. It says nowhere in the Bible that we will become gods. We are made perfect in the EYES OF GOD because of what Jesus has done for us. But we are not perfect, and we will not be perfect until we go to be with the Lord. To worship Him for all eternity, not to go an be gods of our own little worlds.

      • Bible Believer

        God Bless you! That’s how I believe! I know that I’m not to judge others, and only God. However, since a very horrific experience I had with 25 (four generations) of a family member who became Mormon after her marriage (many years ago), which one of them being a “High Priest” in the Mormon church, I finally started to research and read the Book of Mormons so I could possibly understand why they crucified me.(I have also been to Mormon services and Sunday School as a visitor) They “Bullied” me, insulted, and tried to make me look like I was worth nothing. I was so shocked, I did try to stand up for myself, but this was in front of their small great, great grandchildren. I was insulted by my very own nieces. This happened when I was invited to travel to see their family in Utah. I had only been around my immediate family that are Mormons prior to this. All my life I’ve respected them and my many Mormon friends and they had never treated me this way. My heart is broken! However, I’ll never hurt them back, because of my love for them. God foregive them, for they do not know what they have done!

      • St. Clement of Alexandria

        @sm723

        With all due respect (and to put this as politely and respectfully as possible — becuase I do have love and respect for you), I think you may misunderstand what is it Mormons actually believe???

        Mormons DO NOT believe that they will ever be independent of and from God, nor do they believe that they will ever be co-equals with Him. Mormons believe that those who are exalted (or in Christian terms, “diefied”) will ALWAYS be entirely subordinate to our eternal Father and King…ALWAYS! Mormons also believe that they cannot achieve exaltation throught their own merits. It is only through the mercy and grace of Christ that men can become perfected IN Christ through His antoning blood and sacrifice (provided we choose to accept this gift which is given freely).

        Again (and with all due respect), I disagree with you on the proposition that God somehow created man out of a desire and purpose for men to worship Him. As a convert to Mormonism, I could never understand the traditional, orthodox Christian explanation of “Man’s purpose in life to worship God.” I do not believe that God is vain or that God created men out of vanity. I do not believe God is vain, but is rather a glorified and perfect and eternal being. My personal witness to you is that God does not NEED our worship as you so propose. Indeed, God’s purpose to and for our creation is NOT for us to worship God; God is not vain as did not feel the need to create man only for man to worship him.

        My testimony is that God’s purpose in creating man is much more selfless than that. You should note that this concept is not just unique to myself or other Mormons either (see the below comment from famed Christian author M. Scott Peck).

        From my part (and again with all due respect), the Bible is quite clear on this issue (please see my earlier post citing Bible passages). Indeed, I think it is quite clear that the belief of C.S. Lewis in literal divinization is the exact same as the belief of Mormon Christians. Note also what I had written earlier about the early patristic writings of the most celebrated fathers of the early Christian church in the first through fourth centuries. See also my earlier discussion about Bible commentary.

        Let me also restate for you the Orthodox Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology:

        “Deification (Greek theosis) is for Orthodoxy the goal of every Christian. Man, according to the Bible, is ‘made in the image and likeness of God.’. . . It is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become god by grace. This doctrine is based on many passages of both OT and NT (e.g. Ps. 82 (81).6; II Peter 1.4), and it is essentially the teaching both of St Paul, though he tends to use the language of filial adoption (cf. Rom. 8.9—17; Gal. 4.5—7), and the Fourth Gospel (cf. 17.21—23)…”

        “The language of II Peter is taken up by St Irenaeus, in his famous phrase, ‘if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods’ (Adv. Haer V, Pref.), and becomes the standard in Greek theology. In the fourth century, St. Athanasius repeats Irenaeus almost word for word, and in the fifth century St Cyril of Alexandria says that we shall become sons ‘by participation’ (Greek methexis). Deification is the central idea in the spirituality of St. Maximus the Confessor, for whom the doctrine is the corollary of the Incarnation: ‘Deification, briefly, is the encompassing and fulfillment of all times and ages,’ . . . and St. Symeon the New Theologian at the end of the tenth century writes, ‘He who is God by nature converses with those whom he has made gods by grace, as a friend converses with his friends, face to face.’ . . .”

        Note that the above passage is one of the ULTIMATE AUTHORITIES on orthodox Christian theology and, more importantly, this is EXACTLY what Mormon Christians believe. We will never be independent from God. We will always be subordinate to God. Let me state that again for clarification: Latter-day Saints DO NOT believe that human beings will ever be independent of God, nor that they will ever cease to be subordinate to God, period!

        They believe that to become as God means to overcome the world through the atonement of Jesus Christ (see 1 John 5:4—5; Revelation 2:7, 11)(i.e., through participation and acceptance of His divine mercy and sacrifice). Thus the faithful become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ and will inherit all things just as Christ inherits all things (see Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 3:21—23; Revelation 21:7). They are received into the “church of the firstborn,” meaning they inherit as though they were the firstborn (see Hebrews 12:23).

        As a fellow bible scholar, you should note that there are no limitations on these scriptural declarations; those who become as God shall inherit all things. In that glorified state, individuals who are “heirs with Christ” will resemble our Savior, will they not? Indeed, they will be immortal, they will never die, they will receive his glory and be one with Him and with the Father, even as Christ and the Father are one (see 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17:21—23; Philippians 3:21). They will be perfected in Him and sit with Him on His throne. They will be the called the “sons of God” and “children of the most high.” They will be “called gods” and will exist and live as He lives, will they not?

        As Lord himself said, “Have I not said, Ye are gods and children of the most high?”

        The point is this: Mormon belief in exaltation is same as those beliefs demonstrated by quite every celebrated father of Christian orthodoxy durinig the patristic period. The Mormon belief in literal deification and their literal relationship with God as His children is no different from the well-documented beliefs of first and second century Christians. For a so-called “orthodox” Christian to deny this would be to deny the espoused dogmas of the early Christian fathers and, in turn, the very source of their religion of Christian “orthodoxy.”

        My piont is this: (and with all due respect, appreciation and love) I think you misunderstand what it is Mormons actually believe. If you were to actually look deeply at the doctrine of the LDS Church on this subject, you will find that it is no different from the well-documented beliefs of first and second century Christians on this subject, including but not limited to ALL of the most celebrated founders, historians, theologians, and bishops of the early Christian Church.

        Indeed, any “orthodox” Christain who professes a problem with the Mormon Christian teaching of exaltation either: (a) enitrely misunderstands what it is that Mormons actually teach or, perhaps more concerning, (b) are unaware of the well-documented teachings and doctrines of all of the most celebrated fathers of the early Christian church.

        In addition to C.S. Lewis, here is a statement of the famed “orthodox” Christian theologian, M. Scott Peck, as stated the follwing in his book, “The Road Less Traveled:”

        “For no matter how much we may like to pussyfoot around it, all of us who postulate a loving God and really think about it eventually come to a single terrifying idea: God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood.”

        This is EXACTLY what Mormons believe and it is no different from the beliefs of the vast majority of the most celebrated Christian theologians and historians throughout history. As I said, God is NOT vain; anyone who deeply considers God’s infinite love, wisdom, and goodness will eventually come to the conclusion that the anthropromophic God (who I testify does exist), had a much more selfless purpose in creating man other than to just have men “worship Him.” Indeed, men are that they might have JOY…and this is HIS purpose: “to bring to pass the imortality and the eternal life of man.”

        What a blessing it is to know that God did not create me out of selfishness, but rather out of selflessness! How great is the mind, wisdom and mercy of the Lord when one fathoms that He created the very heavens and took on the role as our personal savior for the sole purpose of OUR benefit to become like HIm and to live eternally as He lives!!!

        If anyone wants to read and understand more on this subject, I suggest you read a recent conference talk by Elder Dieter F. Uctdorf who clarified how even though man is nothing compared to God, we (as individual children of the most high) mean EVERYTHING to HIM!!! For me and my life, that gem of knowledge means EVERYTHING to me and, indeed, is a pearl of priceless value. It is a plain and precious truth that we ALL are entitled to know for ourselves if we dilligently seek the answer.

        Peace.

      • Bible Believer

        These are scriptures from God’s word on worship. All the scriptures I’ve taken from the Amplified Bible unless otherwise stated. If you click on the scripture reference you will go to that scripture at ‘Bible Gateway’ where you can read it in the translation or language you want to.
        Extol the Lord our God and worship at His footstool! Holy is He! Psalm 99: 5
        Psalm 40: 3And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.
        But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You. Psalm 5: 7
        Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array. 1 Chronicles 16: 29
        Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His wondrous works and devoutly praise them! 1 Chronicles 16: 9
        O fear the Lord, you His saints [revere and worship Him]! For there is no want to those who truly revere and worship Him with godly fear. Psalm 34: 9
        O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34: 3
        I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp, an instrument of ten strings, will I offer praises to You. Psalm 144: 9
        All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, and Your loving ones shall bless You [affectionately and gratefully shall Your saints confess and praise You]! Psalm 145: 10
        God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality). John 4: 24
        The secrets of his heart are laid bare; and so, falling on [his] face, he will worship God, declaring that God is among you in very truth. 1 Corinthians 14: 25
        Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array. Psalm 29: 2
        O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker [in reverent praise and supplication]. Psalm 95: 6
        Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe. Hebrews 12: 28
        Moreover, when He brings the firstborn Son again into the habitable world, He says, Let all the angels of God worship Him.
        Hebrews 1: 6
        The twenty-four elders (the members of the heavenly Sanhedrin) fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne, and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out, Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created. Revelation 4: 10-11
        There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed (detestable, foul, offensive, impure, hateful, or horrible). But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall worship Him [pay divine honors to Him and do Him holy service].
        Revelation 22: 3

      • Listen, I respect that you have your own opinion, and I also mean no disrespect or harm because I also love you. I just want you to know that I also believe that yes, we will go and become LIKE our Savior after we die. We will not BECOME our Savior though, if you understand what I am saying. We cannot become God. That is not what the Lord would have…we will become perfect, yes. In the image of God, yes. Like our Lord God Jesus, yes. But to say that we will become Gods is blasphemous.
        It is not us, but the Holy Spirit, Who allows us to walk in the Lord. We will never be perfect until we go to be with the Lord. And on that day, and for the rest of eternity, God is still God, and we are still not.

      • And I would also like to point out, with the same respect that I was shown, that Mormon beliefs are very unbiblical. The belief of “heavenly parents” and that “God had a father, and his father had a father, and his father had a father” is not found anywhere in the Bible. The book of mormon is not Biblical either. For anyone to say that “God was created” in any way shape or form, is also blasphemy. So, I may not be a mormon, but do YOU know what you believe? Because God said “I am the Lord; there is no other God.” For God to have a father, that would mean there was another god before him…blasphemy!! Please consider this. I say these things not to condemn or point fingers, but because I love you and want nothing more than for God to be glorified and for you to experience His love for you.

  56. stephen bibb

    1 Corinthians 8:5 | Read whole chapter | See verse in context
    For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

    John 10:34 | Read whole chapter | See verse in context
    Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

    soooo what about these scriptures in the king james bible

    • Hugo

      @ Stephen bibb
      1 Corinthians 8:5: for even if there are those called gods, whether in heaven, whether upon earth — as there are gods many and lords many –That are called gods – Gods so called. The pagans everywhere worshipped multitudes, and gave to them the name of gods.

      Whether in heaven – Residing in heaven, as a part of the gods were supposed to do. Perhaps, there may be allusion here to the sun, moon, and stars; but I rather suppose that reference is made to the celestial deities, or to those who were supposed to reside in heaven, though they were supposed occasionally to visit the earth, as Jupiter, Juno, Mercury, etc.

      Or in earth – Upon the earth; or that reigned particularly ever the earth, or sea, as Ceres, Neptune, etc. The ancient pagans worshipped some gods that were supposed to dwell in heaven; others that were supposed to reside on earth; and others that presided over the inferior regions, as Pluto, etc.

      As there be gods many – ὥσπερ hōsper, etc. As there are, in fact, many which are so called or regarded. It is a fact that the pagans worship many whom they esteem to be gods, or whom they regard as such. This cannot be an admission of Paul that they were truly gods, and ought to he worshipped; but it is a declaration that they esteemed them to be such, or that a large number of imaginary beings were thus adored. The emphasis should be placed on the word “many;” and the design of the parenthesis is, to show that the number of these that were worshipped was not a few, but was immense; and that they were in fact worshipped as gods, and allowed to have the influence over their minds and lives which they would have if they were real; that is, that the effect of this popular belief was to produce just as much fear, alarm, superstition, and corruption, as though these imaginary gods had a real existence. So that though the more intelligent of the pagan put no confidence in them, yet the effect on the great mass was the same as if they had had a real existence, and exerted over them a real control.

      And lords many – (κύριοι πολλοὶ kurioi polloi). Those who had a “rule” over them; to whom they submitted themselves; and whose laws they obeyed. This name “lord” was often given to their idol gods. Thus, among the nations of Canaan their idols was called בּצל Ba‛al, (“Baal, or lord”), the tutelary god of the Phoenicians and Syrians; Judges 8:33; Judges 9:4, Judges 9:46. It is used here with reference to the IdoLS, and means that the laws which they were supposed to give in regard to their worship had control over the minds of their worshippers.

      Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
      There be that are called gods – There are many images that are supposed to be representations of divinities: but these divinities are nothing, the figments of mere fancy; and these images have no corresponding realities.

      Whether in heaven or in earth – As the sun, moon, planets, stars, the ocean, rivers, trees, etc. And thus there are, nominally, gods many, and lords many.

      Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
      For though there be that are called gods,…. That are so by name, though not by nature; who are called so in Scripture, as angels and magistrates, or by men, who give them such names, and account them so:

      whether in heaven; as the sun, moon, and stars:

      or in earth; as men who formerly lived on earth; or various creatures on earth, who have been accounted deities; or stocks and stones graven by man’s device:

      as there be gods many: almost without number, as were among the Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, and others; yea, even among the Jews, who falling into idolatry, their gods were according to the number of their cities, Jeremiah 2:28

      and lords many; referring to the Baalim, or the several idols that went by the name of Baal, or lord, as Baal Peor, Numbers 25:3 Baal Zephon, Exodus 14:2 Baal Zebub, 2 Kings 1:2 Baal Berith, Judges 8:33.
      John 10: 34
      Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
      Unto whom the word of God came – Bishop Pearce thinks that “the word λογος, here, is put for λογος κρισεως, the word or matter of judgment, as in 2 Chronicles 19:6, where Jehoshaphat, setting up judges in the land of Judah, says: Take heed what ye do: judge not for men, but for the Lord, who is with you in judgment – λογοι της κρισεως, in the words or matters of judgment, – Sept., which is nearly according to the Hebrew to בדבר משפט bedebar mishpat, in the word or matter of judgment. In Deuteronomy 1:17, when a charge is given to the judges that they should not be afraid of the face of man, this reason is given: for the judgment is God’s. Hence it appears probable that λογος is here used for λογος κρισεως: and it is called λογος Θεου, because it is the judgment that properly belongs to God, and which they who give it on earth give only as acting in the stead of God. A way of speaking very like to this is found in Hebrews 4:13, where the writer says, προς ὁν ἡμιν ὁ λογος, with whom we have to do, i.e. by whom we are to be judged.” But the words λογος Θεου may be here understood for the order, commission, or command of God; and so it properly signifies, Luke 3:2; and in this sense it is found often employed in the Old Testament. When it is there said that the word of the Lord came, etc., it means, God gave an order, commission, etc., to such a person, to declare or do such and such things.

      And the scripture cannot be broken – Λυθηναι, dissolved, rendered of none effect, i.e. it cannot be gainsayed or set aside; every man must believe this, because it is the declaration of God. If those were termed gods who were only earthly magistrates, fallible mortals, and had no particular influence of the Divine Spirit; and that they are termed gods is evident from that scripture which cannot be gainsayed; what greater reason then have I to say, I am the Son of God, and one with God, when, as Messiah, I have been consecrated, sent into the world, to instruct and save men; and when, as God, I have wrought miracles which could be performed by no power less than that of omnipotence?

      Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
      If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came,…. The Syriac version reads, “because the word of God came to them”; either the divine “Logos”, the essential word, the Son of God, who appeared to Moses, and made him a God to Pharaoh, and who appointed rulers and magistrates among the Jews; and who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, from whom all receive their power and dominion: this sense is favoured by the Ethiopic version, which renders it, “if he called them gods to whom God appeared, the word of God was with them”: or else the commission from God, authorizing them to act in the capacity of rulers and governors, is here meant; or rather the word of God, which, in the passage of Scripture cited, calls them so, as it certainly does:

      and the Scripture cannot be broken; or be made null and void; whatever that says is true, there is no contradicting it, or objecting to it: it is a Jewish way of speaking, much used in the Talmud (y); when one doctor has produced an argument, or instance, in any point of debate, another says, , “it may be broken”; or objected to, in such and such a manner, and be refuted: but the Scripture cannot be broken, that is not to be objected to, there can be no confutation of that.

      (y) T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 4. 1. & Becorot, fol. 32. 1. & passim.

  57. St. Clement of Alexandria

    @JennieBee

    No offense, but this is not true. God created all things spiritually before he created them physically. This is biblical.

    As far as a premortal life is concerned, here is the Lord speaking to the Prophet Jerimiah:

    “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

    Jeremiah 1:5. (KJV)

    See also the following:
    God of the spirits of all flesh, Num. 16:22 (Num. 27:16).

    all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job 38:7

    the spirit shall return unto God who gave it, Eccl. 12:7

    Lord … formeth the spirit of man within him, Zech. 12:1

    who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind, John 9:2

    poets have said, For we are also his offspring, Acts 17:28

    For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, Rom. 8:29

    chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4

    subjection unto the Father of spirits, Heb. 12:9

    angels which kept not their first estate, Jude 1:6

    Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, Rev. 12:7

    For clarification not limited to the subjective and greatly edited works of Emperor Constantine, see also latter-day scripture:

    called and prepared from the foundation of the world, Alma 13:3
    bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord, Hel. 14:17
    third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away, D&C 29:36
    seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made, D&C 38:1
    man, according to his creation before the world, D&C 49:17
    Man was also in the beginning with God, D&C 93:29
    choice spirits who were reserved to come forth, D&C 138:53
    before they were born … received their first lessons, D&C 138:56
    in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, Moses 3:5
    he beheld the spirits that God had created, Moses 6:36
    intelligences that were organized before the world was, Abr. 3:22
    he stood among those that were spirits, Abr. 3:23
    took his spirit … and put it into him, Abr. 5:7

    Peace.

  58. Sunny

    Well, since I plot surfing and going boating and sliding down mansion banisters, I don’t feel that’s absent. I’d have to agree the church is forgetting itself, and not openly facing topics that should be addressed. I’m not sure I want to be a babymaker. I also think, what woman, in her right mind not be able to use science to create things? Also, I’m pretty sure there was a contest on who could make the….manliest animal because there is some messed up stuff on this planet.

    Cookie?

  59. Evan

    I think about this often, if were resurrected and live forever, if we eventually through eternity obtain all knowledge or at least a lot more than we have now, if there is endless infinite space and matter, if we have continued seed or spirit children, what would we be? Gods. I know it is a hard think to grasp, but we know there is endless space and matter, in theory becoming God is possible though we don’t know exactly how it works. Resurrection and eternal spirit is a biblical principal not Mormon. Divine nature is also biblical, not a Mormon only Principal. He is our father not only our god. We become like our mortal parents as children, like we will become like our spiritual father in heaven.

  60. Christina

    I am mormon and we do not believe that people become gods. I have found a lot of rumors about us lately and it’s crazy some of the things people come up with! No we don’t get our own planet when we die, we don’t become gods, we don’t have magic underwear, etc. I’m speaking for all Mormons right now to the whole world. Please just stop spreading rumors because it gives everyone the wrong idea about us. Thanks!

    • WGC

      Christina, what are you talking about? Have you only been a member for a short time?

      Exaltation is becoming like our Heavenly Father. Correct, we don’t “get our own planet”, but we—with our spouse—will procreate spirit children, nurture them to a point where they need to be mortal to progress further, and place them on the worlds we have created for them. Correct, we don’t have “magic underwear”, but we do wear undergarments that symbolize the covenants we take when we are endowed in the Temple.

      YOU, dear Sister, are the one spreading rumors. And you don’t speak for all Mormons. Study our doctrine more.

  61. I LOVE this doctrine! It is one of the most ennobling exalting principles I have ever learned, because it gives us a vision of who we really are and who can ultimately become! I was also THRILLED to find out that others, other than Mormons, also believe this. I have many friends in the alternative Christian world who have no problem with this idea whatsoever, and in fact, embrace as do I.

  62. The concept that man may become God through the atonement of Jesus Christ is not just an LDS belief. Eastern Orthodox Christians still believe it. Many of the early church fathers in the 1st and 2nd century taught it. Here are two quotes:
    Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, 130 AD-200 AD. Against Heresies, bk. 5, preface
    “If the Word became a man, It was so men may become gods.”
    Clement of Alexandria, 150 AD- 215 AD, “Exhortation to the Heathen”,
    Chapter 1
    “And now the Word Himself clearly speaks to you, shaming your unbelief; yea, I say, the Word of God became man, that you may learn from man how man may become God.”

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