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?
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.